LOS ANGELES-If you’re a boxing promoter you can’t mess around on Mexican Independence Day. If you’re going to bring it, you better bring it hard.
Matching WBC junior middleweight titleholder Sergio Mora (21-0-1, 5 KOs) against the man he took it from, Vernon Forrest (40-3, 29 KOs), in a rematch along with Cuba’s Joel Casamayor against Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez for the lightweight title, that’s bringing it.
Mora, Forrest, Casamayor and Marquez are part of a solid doubleheader at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 13, a date that falls around Mexican Independence Day and that means Mexicans and boxing fans expect a major fight or two.
Golden Boy Promotions presented a Mora-Forrest press conference on Wednesday. The fight card will also be available on HBO pay-per-view.
About two months ago former Contender reality television champion Mora pounded out a victory over Georgia’s lean and mean Forrest. It wasn’t supposed to happen, according to the Viper.
“I over trained,” said Forrest, 37, while at a press conference held at El Paseo Inn, a Mexican restaurant located in Olvera Street, a tourist trap that also is home to the historic Avila House. (More on this later).
Forrest, who was the first and second man to beat Pomona’s great Sugar Shane Mosley, said he prepared hard for his title defense against East Los Angeles born Mora. In fact, he
trained too long according to him.
“You can under train and you can over train,” Forrest said. “Against Sergio Mora I was the worst I could be. That was not the real Vernon Forrest.”
Mora, who captured the title by majority decision on June 7, could have skipped the rematch and taken another fight. There were offers to fight Mosley and even discussion over a meeting with fellow East L.A. boxer Oscar De La Hoya. You could have called that the “Battle for Whittier Boulevard” because both live right off the aorta for East Los.
But things didn’t work out. If De La Hoya would have consented then Mora’s promoter was willing to buy off a rematch with Forrest. It didn’t happen, so Mora is fighting Forrest again despite the fact the WBC doesn’t allow for rematch clauses. The Latin Snake could have ignored Forrest and walked away with the green title belt. It’s just not his style.
“Jeff (Wald) and Sergio lived up to their promise of a rematch,” said Shaw, who promotes Forrest and added that he’ll be rooting against Casamayor because he did not honor a rematch promised to him in another fight.
During the photo shoots both fighters mad-dogged each other nose to nose.
“I expect Vernon Forrest to use all his experience in the next fight,” said Mora, 27, who had been fighting as a middleweight until the match against Forrest was offered. “He’s an elite fighter and a future Hall of Famer.”
As people cleared out of the press conference in the Mexican restaurant, I walked by the historic Avila House. It was the very first house ever built in Los Angeles city limits. I thought about walking inside the place and claiming it as my birthright. My last name is Avila and according to an old UCLA buddy who is the former curator for the Avila Adobe museum, the first owners of the Avila house were from Durango like my family. Hmmm. That could be an interesting thing to investigate.
I checked out the premises to see if things were OK. It’s pretty airy and has a nice patio in the middle of the compound. But they’re charging $1 to take a look. They’re not impressed when I show them my ID that has Avila on it.
A few weeks ago a press conference at the Biltmore Hotel in L.A. was held for the Marquez-Casamayor announcement.
I arrived early because I decided to take the train instead of driving my car through traffic. That turned out to be a great idea. I took a book I just purchased, Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, and relaxed all the way to Union Station. From there I took the subway to Pershing Square--that’s across the street from the ritzy hotel and the press conference.
Because I arrived so early, I had a lot of time on my hand. Inside the palatial hotel I immediately spotted Marquez and his trainer Nacho Beristain preparing to be interviewed by HBO. I spotted Tony Walker the pay-per-view executive for HBO and we had a cup of coffee before I was going to be interviewed. We talked about future pay-per-view events and how the Marquez-Casamayor fight might be a tough one to sell. That was before Mora and Forrest were added to the card.
A few minutes later I was escorted to a room in the back of the hotel where the HBO crew was set up. Inside the small room was the gregarious Casamayor. He’s a happy-go-lucky fellow when he’s not fighting. But don’t even act like you know him on fight day. He’s totally focused and he has no friends if you know what I mean.
About 200 boxing gloves were on two sets of tables waiting for both boxers to autograph them. First it was Casamayor who saw Beristain inside and began chatting with the esteemed trainer.
Casamayor is a pretty talkative guy and funny too. Beristain has no humor but he’s still friendly.
About 15 minutes later in came Marquez who spotted Casamayor. The Cuban immediately jumped up and greeted the Mexican fighter warmly. For 10 minutes they chatted. At one point Marquez said “we’ll have a good and clean fight.”
“Of course,” responded Casamayor.
One thing about this fight, we’ll definitely see two incredibly talented and scientific fighters inside the ring.
Marquez is coming off a close loss to Manny Pacquiao that many felt he won. Casamayor is coming off a brutal affair against Michael Katsidis who knocked the slick Cuban through the ropes. Casamayor could have lost the fight but he rectified it by knocking out the heavy-handed Aussie.
Casamayor has the Ring Magazine version of the lightweight title. Marquez wants it.
“We’re going to show boxing fans how it’s done,” said Casamayor.
Marquez expects to discover two things in his next fight: 1) can he fight as a lightweight? 2) Does he have enough technical prowess to offset Casamayor’s vast experience?
The newest East Los Angeles world champion said he won a lot of money betting on Antonio Margarito last weekend.
“He’s a beast,” said Mora, whose gym Margarito’s team uses to prepare for fights. “I remember the first time I ever saw him I said to my team I’m going to kick his ass. It was in Oscar De La Hoya’s camp when we were both up there. He hit me with an uppercut and messed up my nose.”
Both Mora and Margarito have sparred numerous times since then.
“He’s a monster,” Mora said.
The Latin Snake also said when he met De La Hoya during a book signing in Los Angeles, they spoke a little about his fight with Forrest.
“He wanted to know if Forrest hits hard,” said Mora of De La Hoya.
Maybe the winner between Forrest and Mora will fight De La Hoya?
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?