It was a stretch to call Saturday night’s fight at Barclays Center between Danny Jacobs and Sergio Mora a “championship” fight.
Jacobs (29-1, 26 KOs) had fought one world-class opponent in his career (Dmitry Pirog) and was stopped in the fourth round. Mora (28-3-2, 9 KOs) has spent much of the last ten years living off the name recognition that came from a successful run on The Contender. But Jacobs and Mora are professional fighters with skills. And their fight was a good one while it lasted.
Mora is a ring stylist who tends to avoid all-out action. This time, he had a different plan in mind.
“I take a good punch,” Sergio told this writer the day after the fight. “I don’t think Danny does. I was ready to go all out from the start.”
Midway through round one, Mora hooked to the body, waited for a receipt, and got one in the form of a straight right hand that landed flush on his jaw, depositing him on the canvas. Sergio rose and backed into a corner. Jacobs followed, stopped to admire his handiwork with his hands down, and . . .
Boom! A left hook up top from Mora returned the knockdown favor.
The action continued in round two.
“I knew the first four rounds would be tough,”Mora said on Sunday. “And then it would be a war of attrition. I’ve been there and won those kind of fights. The one time Danny was there, he got knocked out.”
Then the unthinkable happened.
“I was fighting low against the ropes,” Sergio recounted. “I’m comfortable in that position. I’ve made a career of defending myself that way. Danny hit me on the back of my head or neck with a grazing punch. He put his weight on me. We both lost our balance. I went down. My right leg was bent under my body, but I was okay. Then he stumbled over me. I heard a loud pop and felt an incredible pain in my ankle. I got up. And as soon as I put my weight on the ankle, it confirmed what I already knew. My ankle was broken.”
“Are you ready to go?” referee Gary Rosato demanded.
“No,” Sergio responded. “My ankle.”
The fight was stopped and ruled a knockout victory for Jacobs at 2:55 of the second stanza. But was that the right ruling?
It’s unclear from the camera angles aired by ESPN whether or not Mora visited the canvas as the consequence of a legal punch. Unless footage to the contrary exists, the ruling of the referee on that point has to stand.
But there’s a second issue: Was Mora’s broken ankle caused by a legitimate boxing move (the knockdown) or by an accidental foul that followed?
A look at one of the ESPN replay angles appears to show the following: Mora is on the canvas with his right ankle bent backward. As Jacobs stumbles forward over Sergio’s body, Danny’s right thigh pushes against Sergio’s torso with the force of his momentum and weight, pinning Sergio’s already-turned ankle under the weight of both bodies. It’s at this point that Sergio heard the “pop” and a look of unspeakable pain crossed his face.
The New York State Athletic Commission has used video replay in the past to overturn fight results.
In 2007, Terrance Cauthen was ahead of Raul Frank on the judges’ scorecards when he was accidentally head-butted on the chin and knocked woozy. Referee Ricky Gonzalez didn’t see the headbutt, stopped the fight, and declared Frank the winner by knockout. After a hearing, the result was changed to “no contest.”
That same year, the NYSAC used video review to change the result of a fight between Delvin Rodriguez and Keenan Collins. The bout was originally ruled “no contest” after Collins suffered a fight-ending cut above his left eye that referee Eddie Claudio ruled was caused by an accidental clash of heads. A review of the video showed that the cut was caused by a punch. The result was changed to a second-round knockout in Rodriguez’s favor.
Fundamental fairness requires a hearing on Jacobs-Mora if Sergio follows the proper legal procedures and brings the matter to the attention of the NYSAC.
“I don’t need another loss on my record,” Sergio says. “And it’s not fair that I should have one.”
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His most recent book -Thomas Hauser on Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press.