Sergio Mora had the pleasure of tangling with Manny Pacquiao's next victim, Shane Mosley, back in September. That waltz didn't make anyone's fight of the year list, but Mora's last outing, against Brian Vera on the February 4th Friday Night Fights, was quite the fan friendly rumble.
I called Mora to congratulate him on the effort, which goes down in the record books as a split decision loss, and to get his thoughts on Mosley's chances against Pacquiao on May 5 in Las Vegas. I wanted to get his take on how much Mosley has left, as I've been nagged by my certainty that Mosley simply doesn't have the needed skills remaining to make many problems for Pacman. That nagging is acute, since as I wrote Monday, I have a hard time coming down on the other side of a Freddie Roach assessment. He thinks Mosley will be formidable. I do not. Mr. Mora, please weigh in...
"I think Mosley is going to be able to do well," said Mora, the 30-year-old Californian with a 22-2 mark. "I think Mosley hurts Pacquiao in the third or fourth round."
Mora made some stellar points in building something of a case for Mosley. One, that he was off for almost a year and a half before he fought Floyd Mayweather, on May 1, 2010. So if there were times when he looked something close to shot there, we should factor in the rust, and of course, that Mayweather is a defensive Picasso. Also, Mora said, yes indeed Mosley didn't look great against him. But Mora's defense was on high alert that night, as he respected Mosley's power. And Mosley traditionally looks less than wondrous against defensive masters: against Winky Wright, against an on-his-game-De La Hoya, against Luis Collazzo, he wasn't on his 'A' game. "We made him look bad," Mora said. But, Mora stated, against an aggressor like Pacman, the warrior in Mosley will come to the fore.
"Now, I didn't say Mosley would win," he said, chuckling. "I don't think it will go the distance. And I'll bet the house."
Mora acknowledges that Mosley has lost a foot off his fastball. The fighter and I agreed that a better, more respectful term than "shot," or "nearly shot," would be "diminished." Yes, Mora said, Mosley is diminished. "But he is a born fighter, a smart fighter, who gave me trouble with his angles and strength. If you want to call him "shot" because he gets hit more, that happens to every guy as they get older. But he still has speed, power and intelligence."
To reiterate, Mora still likes Manny in this scrap, bigtime. He become a full on believer when he saw what Manny did to Margarito. Mora has sparred with Margarito going back more than ten years, and had seen Margarito take punishment from light heavies: "What Pacquiao did was unbelievable. I sparred Margarito for so long. The man has cement in his head. And he works really, really hard. Manny dismantled him, and Cotto, and Clottey. It made me consider him among the greatest of all time! Finally, I admit it!"
Mora told me he's looking to get a rematch with Vera, on neutral turf. He didn't like the setup in Texas, Vera's home base, at all. The 16 foot ring did him no favors, he said, and neither did having to fight in soggy gloves, which had already been used and were sweat-logged. He will sit down with his promoter, Richard Schaefer, on Friday, and lobby for a chance to show Vera that away from his territory, he won't have the same luck.
I asked him if he'd sent a "Did you see that?" text to Jim Lampley, the HBO man who gave Mora a thumbs down for his showing against Mosley. Mora laughed and said he hadn't. But he admitted that while it isn't the best idea for career longevity or longterm health, fan friendly brawls are good to engage in now and again. "In a weird way I wanted to put myself in that situation after the fight I had with Mosley," he said.
"And I didn't quit though I was cut, like Devon Alexnader! Do I say I was robbed, no. But I absolutely feel I deserved the decision. That it was a split decision in his hometown says I deserved the decision. I want a rematch, and this time I'll embarrass him. We'll give fans something great, but it'll be easier for me, and it'll be just as physical."
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?