MORONGO-As Sergio Mora attempted to mount an attack against the counter-punching Rito Ruvalcaba, a fan shouted to the former Contender star “you’re not on the Contender any more, this is real.”

Mora nodded his head and proceeded to thump on his opponent.

The East L.A. boxer shook off more rust and stopped Ruvalcaba in six rounds before a sold out audience at Morongo Casino on Friday. It’s the first step toward setting himself up against bigger and better things.

“The guy hit hard, real hard,” said Mora (20-0-1, 5 KOs).

Mora was coming off a disappointing draw against Elvin Ayala last October. He wants to keep busy in 2008.

“I want to get into the ring as much as possible,” said Mora, 27.

It was apparent that Ruvalcaba (31-9, 28 KOs) did his homework before meeting Mora. From the onset the tall angular Mexican fighter was set on making Mora attack. But it just didn’t work out the way he wanted.

In the third round, Mora began firing jabs to the body and head. That set up his left hook on the inside and overhand right from the outside.

From the fourth round on, Mora’s quickness and agility proved too perplexing for Ruvalcaba who kept trying to corner the fleet East L.A. boxer, but never could trap him effectively.

“I was very well-prepared,” said Ruvalcaba. “He’s getting better and better.”

A solid right cross by Ruvalcaba landed solid on Mora’s chin in the fifth round, but he quickly moved out of range with a string of well-placed jabs. An overhand right landed flush on Ruvalcaba’s head but he shook off the blow.

Mora looked more comfortable in the sixth round and fired a one-two that moved Ruvalcaba into a corner. The East L.A. fighter saw that he had stunned his opponent and fired several lightning combinations looking for the knockout. Referee Ray Corona tried to step in between the two fighters but was tripped up. Meanwhile Mora kept firing and when the referee managed to get up, he quickly stopped the fight at 1:22 of the sixth round to the crowd’s displeasure.

Ruvalcaba offered no excuses.

“He beat me,” Ruvalcaba said.

Mora seeks to fight Irish John Duddy this year.

Other bouts

Vicente Escobedo’s journey back from Mexico City resulted in another victory, this time against Puerto Rico’s rugged southpaw veteran Pascali Adorno.

Now trained by Nacho Beristain, the Sacramento native Escobedo took another step into the comfort zone with a workman-like performance in beating Adorno over 10 rounds in a lightweight bout.

“I trained properly for this fight but I couldn’t land the left hook to the liver because he’s a southpaw,” said Escobedo (16-1, 11 KOs), who prepared in Mexico City the past two months. “He was very durable.”

The first three rounds saw Escobedo trying to find the proper distance against the muscular, but shorter Adorno. He fired jabs tentatively but wasn’t able to land them with conviction.

Around the fourth round Escobedo began finding the range for his right cross and closed the distance. Adorno concentrated on firing back at Escobedo’s body.

“Escobedo is good but I didn’t feel his power like a Kid Diamond or Miguel Angel Huerta,” said Adorno (10-7-2, 4 KOs) who fought both lightweights in the past. “I only had one month to train for this fight.”

Escobedo landed repeated three-punch combinations and seemed to hurt Adorno with a right hand uppercut in the ninth round. But the Puerto Rican lightweight proved resilient.

“I feel I had a good fight I just need more activity,” Escobedo said.

All three judges scored it 100-90 for Escobedo.

New York’s Michael Anderson (2-0) used several quick left hooks to stop Utah’s Chris Montoya (2-3) at 1:52 of the first round in a welterweight contest. Montoya’s corner stopped the fight by throwing in the towel. Anderson had Shane Mosley in his corner.

Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia (3-0, 3 KOs) needed just two rounds in blasting out Mexico’s Marlo Cortez (2-4-1) with a left hook at 1:07 in the second frame of a welterweight bout.

Puerto Rico’s Javier Cintron (14-9-2, 10 KOs) dropped Mexico’s Jonathan Arias (15-1, 8 KOs) with a counter right hand in the second round of a bantamweight fight. Then, in the third round, Cintron followed it up with another right hand that wobbled Arias forcing referee Tony Crebs to stop the fight at 1:05 in the third. The fans were upset. It was Arias first loss and first fight outside of Mexico.

Las Vegas junior lightweight Jose Magallon (6-5, 4 KOs) dropped Mexico City’s Jonathan Bobadilla (4-2) twice in the second round with left hooks and then cruised on to an easy victory after six rounds. The judges scored it 60-52 for Magallon.

In a heavyweight match, San Francisco’s Ashanti Jordan’s (2-0, 2 KOs) first punch convinced Arizona’s Fritz Dejean (0-1) he should not continue. A Jordan left hook beat Dejean’s left hook and down he went. Though the Arizona boxer beat referee Corona’s count, he did not want to continue and the fight was stopped at 1:06 of the first round. Dejean seemed to be having problems with his right eye.