Exposure is the name of the game in boxing and both middleweight contenders Sergio Mora and Brian Vera know it.
“It’s why I’m willing to go to Texas,” said Mora.
Down San Antonio way former junior middleweight world champion Mora (23-2-2, 7 KOs) returns to the Lone Star state to face always dangerous Vera (20-6, 12 KOs), on Saturday Aug. 11. They meet at the Illusions Theater. It’s a rematch of a fight last year won by Vera.
“I come to fight,” says Vera plainly and simply.
Vera and Mora are both alumnus of the Contender television reality series. Mora won the first tournament and Vera did well but lost to Jaidon Codrington in 2007. Exposure from that television boxing series was the world’s first glimpse of the two Mexican-American prizefighters with contrasting styles.
“When I fought on the Contender it was a hot show,” said Vera who began boxing at age 20. “I was inexperienced but it was good learning for me.”
Soon after, Vera was matched with Irish Andy Lee and stopped the southpaw in the seventh round in the televised match. That led to more televised fights against junior middleweight prospects James Kirkland, Craig McEwan and Isaac Rodrigues>
Despite losses to those fighters Vera always presents danger because of his solid chin and aggressive fighting style. Plus, he can punch.
“Now my trainer is Ronnie Shields and I’ve been training in Houston,” said Vera, 30, who lives in Austin.
Mora lost to Vera by split decision a year ago in Fort Worth, Texas. It was a fight that the East Los Angeles native accepted though numerous obstacles presented problems before entering the ring.
“I fought without my trainer and didn’t know what to expect in Texas,” said Mora who is a native Californian. “The conditions were very different from what I was accustomed to in California.”
In a close 10 round fight, Vera took the decision. It was only Mora’s second professional loss.
“It left a bad taste in my mouth,” said Mora. “He came in ready.”
Mora’s second loss stung him especially since the only other defeat came at the hands of the late great Vernon Forrest.
“People forget I beat Vernon first,” said Mora, who captured the WBC junior middleweight world title with a win over Forrest in 2008.
Now 31, Mora feels he has a lot of fight left in him and points to other boxing stylists such as Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez who are in their mid-thirties but still competing at a high level. He just wants his opportunity too.
A knockout win over Shibata Flores last November kept him on the radar and he seeks to continue maintaining visibility with this fight against Vera.
Mora was offered a fight with Erislandy Lara for a significant amount at 160 pounds and accepted, but the offer was pulled. Fights against Winky Wright, Peter Quillen and Jermain Taylor were also mentioned but nothing materialized. Even a potential fight with middleweight titleholder Gennady Govotkin evaporated.
“I’ve got that hunger,” says Mora. “People aren’t giving me a chance and counting me out.”
A few months ago Mora helped Colorado’s heavy-hitter Mike Alvarado prepare to fight Riverside, California’s slick fighting Mauricio Herrera. Both sparred dozens of rounds with Mora providing guidance on how to fight a slick boxer. It proved invaluable advice as Alvarado found it difficult to connect with solid shots against Herrera, but landed the shorter more accurate blows suggested by Mora. Alvarado won the fight against Herrera that many see as the Fight of the Year so far in 2012.
Vera knows another win against Mora puts him right smack in the middle of the middleweight pack that seems to be heating up. Mora knows this too.
“We’re ready for this fight,” Mora says. “His strength is his size.”
The Texas middleweight is prepared for Mora’s distinctive style.
“I expect him to move around and be real awkward,” says Vera. “I’ve got to put a lot of pressure on him.”
Exposure is the reward for the winner.