Jermain Taylor will make the first defense on his IBF middleweight title when he faces Sergio Mora on a Biloxi, Mississippi edition of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
Billed as a voluntary defense, the IBF approved the February 6 bout on the condition that the winner must then fight the mandatory challenger in Hassan N’Dam, who is coming off a unanimous decision over Curtis Stevens.
“It’s a quality fight and it gives Jermain a chance to defend his title before his mandatory defense is due,” said Taylor’s promoter, Lou DiBella, ESPN. “And for Sergio Mora, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. He turned it down once many years ago when it was a much bigger fight and for a lot more money. But he passed on it then and I think it’s one of the great regrets that he has had. He said if he ever got the opportunity again it’s something he would want to do. This is a fight that both guys wanted.”
The fighters were first scheduled to meet in 2007, when Taylor was the undisputed middleweight champion following two decision victories over Bernard Hopkins. Due to the fight being scheduled for Memphis, Mora declined the title opportunity believing the venue was too close to the champion’s hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Mora is currently on a four-bout win streak since losing a majority 12-round decision to Bryan Vera in August 2012. Taylor has gone 5-0 since returning in 2011 from a two-year hiatus due to brain-bleeding suffered in a October 2009 KO defeat to Arthur Abraham.
With both fighters being managed by Al Haymon, this isn’t too surprising. Taylor has wisely not been in with any punchers since his return and I’m sure his team is looking at Mora as a “soft touch.” But the Latin Snake is a spoiler and not a worn-out fighter even at 34 years old. A Mora victory would not be surprising.
Credit to HBO and Showtime for staying away from this one. This is a Friday Night Fight-level contest at best.
And for the record, I pick Hassan N’Dam to beat either of these guys should they fulfill their mandatory requirements later this year.