Almost eight years after refusing to meet Jermain Taylor for the middleweight title on his Memphis home grounds, East L.A.’s Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora can nod with confidence it was the right move for various reasons.
“Back in 2007 I had only fought one 10 round fight. I was fresh from The Contender and making really good money,” said Mora by phone on Saturday night. “I wouldn't have gotten a decision no matter how close the fight was. I was thinking longevity. A year later I became champion beating (Vernon) Forrest.”
That decision to decline the middleweight title shot and the $1 million purse was ridiculed and became a theme for his detractors. Yes, he defeated the late great Forrest for the junior middleweight title, but $1 million dollars doesn’t come along too often. Still, Mora has proven to be a thinking man’s fighter.
Mora (27-3-2, 9 Kos) will meet Taylor (33-4-1, 20 Kos) who now holds the IBF middleweight world title on Feb. 6, at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Miss. The middleweight battle will be televised on ESPN. Ironically, Lou DiBella who lambasted Mora back in 2007, now promotes the former junior middleweight champion.
“He has a history of making middleweight champions like Sergio Martinez and Andy Lee,” said Mora of his new promoter DiBella. “He plays the numbers like that guy in Moneyball.”
Team Mora also signed a contract to have Al Haymon advise. The two additions have proven to be quite important in Mora’s resurgence.
Though the fight takes place near Taylor’s home grounds it doesn’t affect Mora this time around.
“Not at all. I've been 36 rounds with two Hall of Famers in Forrest and Sugar Shane Mosley. I'll fight him anywhere now,” said Mora confidently.
Mora has won his last four fights two via knockout. His style has changed over the years and though he still is probably the best defensive middleweight today, the East L.A. prizefighter has added pop and aggression to his arsenal.
Taylor recently captured the IBF title with an impressive victory over Australia’s Sam Soliman that ended in a lopsided unanimous decision. He also reinvented himself after a brief sojourn from boxing.
Mora had his sights on any of the middleweight titleholders or contenders before the announcement came on Saturday night. He cared not where or who the opponent would be as long as it was a well-known name.
Before the announcement Mora rattled off a who’s who of middleweights he would fightm including Peter Quillin, Miguel Cotto, Sergio Martinez, Andy Lee, Gennady Golovkin or Taylor. He’s got Taylor now.
“Now eight years later I get another opportunity to become Middleweight Champion and a two division champion. Longevity is what was on my mind. Not the quick money like all the other guys that were part of The Contender,” said Mora. “They sold themselves out for a quick pay day. Where are they now? “