TEMECULA, CALIF.—-Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora ventured into the land where upsets can take place and the unorthodox can pay dividends. But not on Thursday.
Before a crowd of well-wishers, Mora (27-3-2, 9 Kos) used his speed, defense and world class skills to out-point the always game Dashon Johnson (15-18-3) of Riverside, who brought a few of his own fans to the Pechanga Resort and Casino. The fight was not televised but was easily the most action packed on the 13-bout Goossen card.
“He was tough like I expected,” said Mora, 34. “It was an ugly fight, but you need ugly fights.”
The East L.A. raised former junior middleweight world champion was fighting an opponent who knows what works against world class fighters and prospects. It was the same kind of arsenal that was exhibited in the same arena by Ricardo Mayorga in his massive upset of Vernon Forrest, the same fighter that Mora ironically defeated to win the WBC junior middleweight title a few years back. The Pechanga ballroom has some crazy juju.
“He threw punches from here and from there,” said Mora, who demonstrated the awkward and windmill like blows. “You can’t defend well against those. I’m used to straight punches but you still have to deal with them.”
Mora’s speed and reflexes kept him from getting tagged. Johnson, who has speed of his own, was at times frustrated from the lack of success. But he’s a professional and never quit trying to land the big blow. Well, he did trade knockdowns with Mora in the second round. A Mora left hook temporarily dropped Johnson who was off balance against the ropes. Then Johnson pushed Mora off balance and hit him with a right that sent him down. More often than not Mora out-landed Johnson for the next six rounds.
Johnson never quit.
“Any guy like him that can take a punch is always going to give guys problems,” said Mora. “He can take a punch and he can give a punch. Honestly, if my glove wasn’t covering me it probably would have hurt…a lot.”
Mora’s goal for 2015 is to win another world title. Now that he’s with Al Haymon there are plenty of middleweights. He especially wants current IBF middleweight champion Jermain Taylor who years ago was set to fight Mora.
“We have some unfinished business,” said Mora. “I want Jermain Taylor.”
Dominic Breazeale (13-0, 12 Kos) knocked out Epifanio Mendoza (40-20-1) at 2:37 of the first round of their heavyweight clash. Yes, Mendoza now fights at heavyweight. Breazeale dropped a right hand on Mendoza’s noggin and he went spiraling down. He beat the count and Breazeale delivered a right and left that sent Mendoza tumbling along the ropes like dry tumble weed.
Edwin Rodriguez (26-1, 17 Kos) stopped Derrick Findley (21-14-1, 13 Kos) in the first round to break a sweat in their light heavyweight mismatch. Findley must have hurt his neck looking up at Rodriguez who pile drove the much shorter fighter into submission.
Few punches were thrown in the heavyweight showdown between Antonio Tarver (31-6, 22 Kos) and Johnathon Banks (29-3-1, 19 Kos) but those that were unleashed were powerful. At 2:25 of round seven Tarver stopped Banks with a four-punch combination along the ropes. Banks had been floored earlier with the same four-punch combination earlier in the round. Tarver’s win was followed by several bellows from the former light heavyweight champion who seemingly belongs in the heavyweight division.
Former junior middleweight champion Austin “No Doubt” Trout (28-2, 15 Kos) out-classed Luis Grajeda (18-4-2, 14 Kos) for seven rounds before the fight was stopped by the Mexican’s corner at the end of the round.
Trout, normally a counter-puncher, realized around the fourth round that Grajeda was fearful of any semblance of an attack. From that point on Trout became the aggressor and really changed things around with a body shot that took all of the life from Grajeda in the sixth round.
Grajeda may have feigned a punch but never delivered anything in the seventh round as Trout looked to end the fight with an aggressive but focused attack. More body punches landed and at the end of the seventh, the fight was called off.
Colombia’s Oscar Escandon (24-1, 15 Kos) managed to squeak out a split decision win over the kangaroo antics of Canada’s Tyson Cave (24-3, 8 Kos) after 12 back and forth rounds in super bantamweight action. Or should it be called non-action. Two judges scored it 115-113 for Escandon and one 117-111 for Cave.
Cleveland middleweight Terrell Gausha(18-2, 8 Kos) stopped Brooklyn’s Cesar Vila (7-2) in the eighth round with a four-punch combination. For most of the fight the two traded punches with Gausha having a slight advantage each round. But the end came at 2:30 of the final round when Vila stuck his chin out and Gausha took advantage.
Former junior featherweight world titlist Rico Ramos (24-4, 12 Kos) won by decision over Juan Ruiz (24-16) after eight rounds of a featherweight contest.
Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington (15-0, 11 Kos) knocked down Mike Sheppard (22-18-1) of West Virginia twice in winning by technical knockout at 1:26 of the first round in a heavyweight fight. Washington is an ex-USC Trojan football player.
Long Beach super middleweight Malcolm McCallister (1-0) won his pro debut against Tijuana, Mexico’s Fernando Najera (1-6) by knockout. The end came at 1:42 of round two when Najera’s corner threw in a white towel signaling to end the fight.
New Jersey light heavyweight Marcus Browne (13-0, 10 Kos) floored over the scales opponent George Blades (23-7) twice in the first round. The end came at 1:25 of round one. Blades weighed nearly 20 pounds over the agreed limit.
Vatch Martirosyan (4-0), the younger brother of Vanes, nearly shut out Eddie Diaz (0-3) for four rounds in a welterweight contest. There were no knockdowns in the fight. The scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37 for Martirosyan who fights out of Glendale.
Ahmed Elbiali (8-0) floored Lawrence Blakey (2-3) twice in the first round and twice in the third round to win by technical knockout at 1:44 of round three.