Unlike most fighters who run through boxing regimens almost robotically, Sergio Mora, “The Latin Snake,” does things differently.
From his awkward fighting style to his college degree, the East Los Angeles prizefighter refuses to conform to orthodox standards or expectations of professional boxers.
“They can say what they want,” declares Mora.
Once again, Mora swims against the tide when he faces the much taller Eric Regan (26-2, 17 KOs) on Aug. 25, at Sacramento in a middleweight eliminator to see who faces middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor or WBO middleweight titleholder Javier Castillejo of Spain.
It doesn’t matter to Mora.
“I know what people are saying,” said Mora (18-0, 4 KOs), just a little irritated that television boxing announcers and writers would scoff at his willingness to meet Taylor, should he beat Regan. No easy feat.
“It doesn’t matter what they say,” Mora, 25, says with disdain. “It’s not about them.”
It wasn’t long ago that Mora graduated from “barbecue boxing” to champion of the first Contender reality boxing series. Every Tuesday fans or haters can watch Mora provide commentary on the current Contender series on ESPN.
“I get tidbits in the show,” said Mora, who replaced Sylvester Stallone who is occupied making another Rocky movie. “It’s a good show.”
On a steamy Wednesday afternoon, Mora works out at his gym in Montebello, a small city that borders East L.A. The 110-degree temperatures in the gym don’t bother him as he steps through paces like a machine. He’s focused.
“What most people don’t realize about the Contender is the hungrier and more focused fighter is going to win,” Mora said after sparring with Roger Vargas, the younger brother of Fernando Vargas. “You can’t fool the millions of people watching it. They can see right through you.”
In 2005, when Mora rocketed to fame by emerging as the first winner of the popular boxing reality show with wins over the late Najai Turpin, Ishe Smith, Jesse Brinkley and two riveting wins over the talented Peter Manfredo Jr., a new star was born.
This past May 4, Mora stopped Archak “Shark Attack” Ter-Meliksetian in the seventh round of a scheduled 10-round fight. Mora suffered his first knockdown in the opening round then came storming back to record his first knockout in three years.
“I needed that knockdown,” Mora said, who has been sparring with 6-foot-3-inch Eddie Sanchez. “It made me focus.”
John Montelongo, his co-trainer and advisor, is not the usual boxing type. He works as a Montebello Police officer when not in boxing duds and has a calm demeanor for someone who battles crime on a daily basis.
“Sergio is the same guy,” says Montelongo, who first spotted Mora when he was a young teen anxious to learn boxing. “The only difference is he’s famous now.”
Mora says fan recognition is much more apparent outside of California.
“I don’t know why, but once I get out of California, people come up to me,” Mora said.
Mora’s other trainer, Dean Campos, taught him the unorthodox boxing style that confuses most opponents.
In 2000, Mora and Jermain Taylor fought in the Olympic box-off finals in Florida. Taylor won by a slim margin.
“Sergio is strong,” said Taylor last November. “He’s a lot stronger than he looks. And he’s awkward. He’s a real good fighter.”
Should Mora beat Regan later this month, the rematch between Mora and Taylor will probably take place.
“It doesn’t give me pressure to know I might fight Jermain Taylor,” said Mora. “I’m flattered.”
It’s a very unorthodox approach. But that’s Mora.
On Aug. 18, two fight cards take place within 15 miles of each other. First, undefeated junior welterweight Timothy Ray Bradley of Indio headlines a boxing show at the Omega Products International in Corona, California. Bradley is one of the local hot prospects that people are talking about nationwide. For tickets and information call (714) 935-0900.
Down the I-15 in Temecula, middleweight contender Sam Soliman (32-8), the Australian human punching machine, meets local fighter Enrique Ornelas (24-2) who is preparing in Big Bear. Also on the show will be Riverside’s Chris Arreola, a rising heavyweight prospect. Vassiliy Jirov is also scheduled to fight at Pechanga Resort and Casino. For tickets and information call (877) 711-2946.
Fights on television
Tues. ESPN, 7 p.m., The Contender reality boxing series
Wed. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Rogers Mtagwa (21-10-2) vs. Alvin Brown (26-8)
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Anthony Peterson (18-0) vs. Marc Thompson (15-1)
Fri. Telefutura, 9 p.m., Jose Cotto (27-1) vs. Ivan Hernandez (24-2)
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Anthony Hanshaw (19-0) vs. Esteban Camou (19-1)
Sat. HBO 7:00 p.m., Vernon Forrest (37-2) vs. Ike Quartey (37-2-1)
Sat. Showtime, 9 p.m., Rafael Marquez (35-3) vs. Silence Mabuza (19-1)
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?