Styles make fights. This sort of oft-repeated adage was born from the sport of boxing. Boxing, as with any combative sport, in an endeavor that puts its athletes through a dangerous dance with another combatant every time they step into the ring. A fighter can be the most skilled, or the toughest son of a bitch in the game, but if his fistic weakness hinges on a certain style of an opponent, all that talent means nothing without intelligence. The examples are as old as time itself; you have the boxer versus the puncher, the brawler versus the fundamentalist, etc. While certain styles can blend together to create a cure for insomnia, other combinations prove to be as combustible as gas and flame.
Tomorrow night, fight fans here in North Texas will be treated to a main event that promises a combustible mix of boxing skill and personality between two star pugilists in Sergio Mora and Brian Vera. Both fighters are as game as any in the sport, but it is their contrasting styles that make this bout such an intriguing one.
Sergio Mora (22-1-2, 6 KOs) is a man most commonly known for his breakout performance in winning the inaugural Contender show, a boxing reality series in which the winner received a $1 million dollar purse at the end. While Mora emerged victorious in the season’s most successful, and popular, series the fact remains that off all the fighters on the show, he was the one who had the prerequisite mix of charm and talent. Unlike the other participants on the show, many who just as quickly faded back into obscurity, Mora was able to capitalize on this fame and fortune and parlayed his expose on the show to a string of lucrative paydays. However, despite the newfound financial success, Mora’s pinnacle as a pro thus far had to be his upset title winning performance over the late Vernon Forrest in 2008. Despite the common opinion that Forrest was far out of Mora’s league, the Los Angeles native dug deep and simply out worked and out hustled Forrest in route to capturing the WBC junior middleweight crown. It was
a watershed moment in the life of Mora, and while he has gone 1-1-1 in his last three fights, the fact remains that the heart of a champion still beats in the “Latin Snake.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum comes Fort Worth’s Brian Vera. There is “tough” and then there is “Brian Vera tough.” Vera (17-5, 11 KOs) is a throwback to a bygone era when boxers took on the temperament of gladiators. Now of days it seems that our boxers are more enamored with the diversity of their stock portfolios than in the actual act of fighting. Vera bucks this trend with a grizzled determination and punches that hit like mule kicks. Despite starting his career of superbly by going 14-0 and winning the IBA Intercontinental super middleweight title, Vera was not touted or treated like a legitimate prospect/contender. Instead, many in the industry considered Vera nothing more than a glorified club fighter, a dismissal that stung Texas fight fans who knew that Vera was as capable as any fighter in the sport. However, fortunes seem to favor those who work for them and Vera’s break came via the Contender, just as Mora’s had before him. Granted, Vera did not win his season’s tournament, nor was his season of the Contender as popular and relevant as Mora’s inaugural season, but the fact remained that his grit and guile was illustrated for the world to see and he has since parlayed that to a number of high-exposure fights.
Perhaps no fight has done more for Vera’s reputation like his upset TKO victory over the once highly touted Irishman Andy Lee. Despite non-stop buzz and hype surrounding Lee and his work with renowned trainer Emanuel Stewart, Vera was undaunted and beat the living hell out of Lee over seven one-sided rounds. However, since that moment Vera has gone 1-4 in his last five. But, in Vera’s defense his last five opponents have been a Murder’s Row of talent with a combined record of 104-2-1. That’s an incredible feat for a fighter.
All of this brings us to Friday night’s eagerly anticipated showdown between Mora and Vera in the ESPN Friday Night Fights main event taking place at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Despite the difference in career arcs, this bout is a lot harder to call then one might expect. On one hand you have the slick counterpunching style of Mora. There is a reason why he enjoys the nickname the “Latin Snake” and it has to do with his elusive, unorthodox fighting style. Like a snake, Mora seems to lie and wait in coiled fashion only to leap out and strike with laser accuracy. Mora’s opponents have not been tomato cans either. While he fought Forrest twice, winning one, Mora has also tangled with the likes of the great Shane Mosley, holding the former world champion to a draw. Mora is a man who can bring the fight, and seems to be energized by fighting under the cameras and bright lights. One would expect him to embrace fighting on ESPN in the epicenter of the Super Bowl.
Vera, as stated before, fears no man. With Vera there is no flash, no posturing, what you see is what you get with him. He is a no nonsense fighter, one designed to grind out a win by walking through Hell with gasoline underwear on. If any fighter will be able to overlook Mora’s popularity it will be Vera. One would expect Vera to simply try to out-muscle Mora over the course of the fight. It’s not a bad plan given that one would have to give the edge in pure boxing ability to Mora.
This fight has certain ramifications surrounding it. A win by either fighter buts them in the hopper for lucrative paydays at middleweight and super middleweight. There is a ton ridding on the line for these two fighters which is why when both boxers enter the ring Friday night the eyes of the boxing world will be glued to witness what is sure to be a combustible mix of talent and heart.