SAN ANTONIO – Brian Vera took home a majority decision win over Sergio Mora Saturday night in front of 3,096 fight fans at the Illusions Theatre in the Alamodome.
It was Vera's second win over Mora in as many tries. The two fighters previously in 2011 in Fort Worth, where Vera earned a split decision win. This time, Vera nabbed the victory by a majority on the judges' scorecards (114-114, 118-110 and 117-111).
The fight settled into a consistent pattern early. Vera would come forward and wing wild shots at Mora, who would slip, parry and counter cleanly. It made for an entertaining bout.
Vera would repeatedly crowd Mora into the corner or ropes. He'd smile and snarl his way while barreling in close, but he'd often get hammered in return after a quick dodge from the cagey and quick Mora.
The crowd chanted Vera's name throughout the contest, showing support for their fellow Texan.
After somewhat of a lull, Mora came out in the sixth with renewed vigor. He started the round off with a sharp right hand in the center of the ring, and then showboated a bit later up against the ropes when he thought he was getting the better of it.
"The Latin Snake" Mora uncoiled even more in the seventh. He'd let Vera miss wildly, then land sharp shots in return. Vera landed a hard shot at the end of the round, though, that had Mora stumble a bit to leave things more even.
Mora seemed to tire in the eighth. He did more backpedalling than countering, and Vera's pressure remained unrelenting.
The ninth was mostly Vera's, who began to have his way with the defensive-first Mora, whose legs appeared slower than before. An end of round exchange went the way of Mora, though, making it a tough call for the judges.
In round ten, Mora came out more fierce and aggressive. He landed his hardest punches of the night and left Vera mostly befuddled.
The final two rounds were hotly contested. Both men had their way at times. Mora would slip and counter with authority. Vera would come forward and throw in volume.
Neither fighter relented, and both believed themselves the winner at the end of it. After the verdict was read, Mora was visibly upset while Vera showed adulation. Mora stormed out of the ring mumbling curses at anyone quick enough to keep pace with him as he left the building.
Meanwhile, the win put Vera right back in line for another meaningful middleweight bout in the not too distant future.
In the opening professional bout of the evening (it was preceded by a slew of amateur bouts), Benjamin Whitaker (1-0, 1 KO) impressed the local crowd with his professional debut effort.
The San Antonio welterweight only needed two rounds to dispatch of his opponent, Germain Carson (0-2). The fight ended at 2:33 of round number two with Whitaker standing over the hapless Carson, who lay sprawled helpless at the victor's feet in his own corner.
In the next bout, Darquan Arnett (6-0, 4 Kos) stayed undefeated in his young career, too. The Floridian junior middleweight blasted Ishwar Amador (11-11, 7 Kos) with a crisp straight right hand to end things before they really got started. The fight was immediately halted, at just 36 seconds of the first round, after Amador crumbled to the canvas and lay motionless.
Next up was bantamweight prospect Adam Lopez (4-0, 2 KO), who dispatched of Mario Delgado (0-2) quickly and efficiently in round number one of their contest. Lopez stalked Delgado around the ring until trapping him in the corner, where he let loose a vicious combination. The fight was stopped with Delgado doubled over from a body shot at 1:20.
Welterweight Steve Hall (5-3, 5 Kos) came to the ring amid raucous cheers from his adopted hometown crowd, his head adorned with a sombrero, his arms waving both Mexican and English flags. The Englishman's white trucks where one part American flag, one part English.
Milton Ramos (8-3-2, 2 KOs) didn't care, and he took it right to the popular local fighter from the opening bell.
Ramos landed clean shots in the first round with nicely timed counter punches. The two traded shots throughout the second. Hall steadily moved forward trying to dig shots to his opponent's body and head. Meanwhile, Ramos played the matador, using a well-timed jab and good footwork to position himself for power punches.
Ramos caught Hall in the third with crisp counter punching, but the tough brawler kept moving forward and throwing his own hard shots. That same script played itself out through the rest of the six round affair, with Ramos typically getting the better of the action.
Judges at ringside scored the fight for 60-54, 59-55 and 58-56 for Ramos.
In the next fight, junior featherweight Javier Rodriguez (3-0-1) was just too strong for Kermit Hendricks (1-3). The aggressive, rough-and-tough fighter, nicknamed "The Pitbull", came forward fast and furiously right from the start of the bout. Hendricks just couldn't keep Rodriguez off his chest, despite his best efforts at throwing jabs and one-twos.
All three judges scored the fight 39-37 for Rodriguez.
In the co-main event of the evening, El Paso's Antonio Escalante (27-4, 19 Kos) defeated Leonilo Miranda (26-5, 25 Kos) by devastating knockout in round number two. Esclante lured Miranda in close when it appeared he might be hurt himself, then let go a ferocious right cross to put him down and out.
The referee stopped the bout at 1:18 of round number two with Miranda still on the floor.
The final bout that took place before the Vera-Mora main event was a featherweight swing bout between Houston's Jerren Cochran (5-0, 3 KOs) and Forth Worth's Jesus Rocha (3-4). Rocha clipped Cochran with a hook in round one but was bested by the latter's hand speed both before and after.
Cochran floored the overly anxious Rocha in round two with a straight right hand. It didn't deter Rocha, though, who kept coming towards his more skilled counterpart with ruthless and crude (but often effective) combination punching.
At the end of the four rounds, judges scored it for skill over will, 40-35 twice and 39-36 for Jerren Cochran.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV