Fight fans had to wonder going in to Saturday’s Sergio Mora/Vernon Forrest rematch underneath the Juan Manuel Marquez/Joel Casamayor scrap, would the old Forrest show up, or would an old Forrest show up in the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas?
By the second round, it was apparent, to watchers and to Mora, that Forrest was not shot, and in fact, still had skills, speed and pop intact. The 37-year-old Viper scored a knockdown in the seventh, and controlled the pace throughout the evening, impressing the judges enough to score a unanimous decision. It was Mora, age 28, who lacked energy and zest. The scores were 118-109, 117-110, 119-108.
“I told y’all my better was better than his better,” Forrest told Ron Borges after the scrap. “That’s the difference between a Contender and a champion.” In the first bout, Forrest admitted he was flat, and said he controlled him with the jab. “This was basic boxing 101,” he said.
Forrest landed 231 to Mora’s 83, and out-threw his foe, 634 to 477.
Vic Drakulich was the man in charge in the ring. The WBC super welterweight crown, held by Mora, was on the line. The Georgian Forrest (40-3 coming in) weighed in at 154 pounds at the weigh in, while the Californian Mora (21-0-1, just 5 KOs) weighed 154 pounds after sweating off several pounds to make the limit on Friday.
In the pre-fight staredown, Forrest looked away as the ref gave instructions. Was this indicative of nerves, we had to wonder.
In the first round, both righties looked to establish the jab. Mora, as is his usual, kept his lead hand, the left hand, low. It was a tight first round, as both men got warm. Ten punches landed between them. In round two, Forrest landed a three-punch combo early. The Viper was more aggressive, and took the frame. In the third, a clash of heads bothered Forrest. But he shook that off, and pumped his jab. He also spoke with a left hook that Mora didn’t care for.
In the fourth round, it had become abundantly clear, this Forrest wasn’t the same guy who Mora schooled in their first encounter. The Contender alum ate hits, and waved Forrest to serve up more. Vernon went low, and got a warning. After the round, trainer Buddy McGirt told Forrest he was “breaking him down slowly.” Agreed. Mora’s trainer said “c’mon baby, we need a good round here.” Agreed.
In the fifth round, Forrest held and hit Mora, drawing a warning. Some blood trickled from Mora’s left eye in the last third of the round. A right hit Mora hard and the crowd reacted. The Viper was on target picking Mora off down the stretch, and it looked bad for Mora, unless he seriously perked up. Bottom line, a guy like Mora without pop needs to be busier, far busier, than the other guy. He was not, to this point.
The sixth round saw Forrest loading up with heavy rights. He clanged a few off Mora’s noggin and threw in a couple of lefts to boot. He did land a left that scored. In the seventh, it really looked like the crash diet for Mora had taken its toll. He had little zip. Forrest scored a knockdown at the bell, via a counter left hook, that had Mora being held up by the ropes. In the eighth, Forrest kept Mora at bay with the jab. He won the round with jabs alone. In round nine, Mora looked too dry for a guy who had fought 24 minutes. Then again, Forrest didn’t drip sweat either. Mora landed a sharp right that staggered Forrest, his best punch, and we had some drama back in the bout. Then Forrest went back to work, and had Mora in trouble in the last 10 seconds.
In the 10th, you had to laud Mora for his stones. He didn’t bail, and slither out of the fight. He got the rubber suit out, depleted himself, and proved himself to be a professional. OK, he should not have been over, but once it was determined he was, he did what needed to be done. Forrest, though, couldn’t be sweated off. In the 11th, Mora came out aggressively. Then Forrest jabbed, and took back the tempo. Mora actually looked perkier than he did in the first half of the fight, go figure. The Vipers tank was nearing E. McGirt told him, “Fight hard this round, we need it.” In the 12th, Mora’s jab to start was snappier than it was early in the bout. Forrest caught him coming in with both hands, and the crowd reacted. Mora went down to the bitter end hoping to land a game changer, hats off to him.
The two did not hug after the scrap.