Optimistic Mora has the goods to blaze through Forrest
Unmotivated during training camp and listless in the ring, Vernon Forrest had a ready-made excuse after losing to Sergio Mora in June. But even if he returns stronger in the rematch, is it possible that Mora's just the better man?
Originally Published: September 9, 2008By Graham Houston | Special to ESPN.com
AP Photo/George Ruhe"Beat ya to it!" Sergio Mora, right, was quicker on the trigger against Vernon Forrest in June.When a fighter loses unexpectedly, he sometimes acts as if he can't quite believe what happened. So it is with Vernon Forrest. Surprisingly beaten by Sergio Mora in June's junior middleweight title bout, he gets the chance to put the record straight in Saturday's HBO PPV show at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Forrest still seems to be struggling to come to terms with the Mora setback. It was a night when, after making a strong start, Forrest's fighting prowess tailed off into ineffectiveness. "I was just flat," Forrest said in a conference call with the media in the countdown to the fight. "It was one of those days." Being flat, he said, is when a fighter sees the moves he should be making but makes them two or three seconds too late. "It's like a delay in pulling the trigger," he explained. Forrest is 37, but he is quick to say that his age had nothing to with his performance, pointing out that he had been fast and sharp in his two prior fights, against Carlos Baldomir and Michele Piccirillo.
One problem Forrest had before the last fight, he said, is that he was bored during a long training camp in Vero Beach, Fla. For this fight he has prepared at home in Atlanta, and he says he feels all the better for it. Forest started preparing in February for the first fight, and long before June rolled around he was finding training a wearisome thing. He was just going to the gym to get it over and done with, rather than going to the gym with enthusiasm. "We've got a better schedule of preparation and we can peak at the right time," Forrest said. "And so I guarantee you you'll see a much, much better performance out of Vernon Forrest. You will see a classic Vernon Forest kind of performance." In his training, he said, he hasn't been focusing on any one thing in particular but has been mixing things up, bringing into play all the ingredients that made him a champion in two weight divisions. "I'm going to bring my A-game and get my championship back," he said. The possibility exists, though, that Mora's style and tactics had a lot to do with Forrest's performance. Forrest dominated the fights with Baldomir and Piccirillo, but then they are both slower, veteran fighters. Mora, 27, brought something different to the fight. The "Latin Snake" from Los Angeles was quick and tricky, making unexpected moves that seemed to take Forrest out of his stride. Forrest is at his best when he is able to engage in a set-piece boxing match and control a fight with his excellent left jab and straight right hand, backed up by the hooks and combinations. The wild and unpredictable Ricardo Mayorga unsettled Forrest with rushes and rough stuff. Mora was able to discomfit him in a different way, by slipping punches and darting in and around the older man, changing direction, feinting with his gloves and shoulders and generally proving to be hard to hit and difficult to figure out. In the first meeting it was like watching one man going steadily downhill while his opponent seemed to be growing in zest and confidence with each passing round. Forrest seemed to be lost in a private world of exasperation and perhaps embarrassment, a world in which nothing was going right. His trainer, Buddy McGirt, exhorted him to "wake up." By the last third of the fight, though, it was Mora who was running the show, even dropping his hands and taunting Forrest. One judge had Mora sweeping the last four rounds; the other two judges had him winning three of the last four. It was the sort of showing that can lift a fighter's confidence to new heights. Mora has always believed in himself, even if detractors didn't take his "Contender" title seriously. One heard the comments that Mora was "only" a reality-TV champ, as if somehow he had yet to validate himself as a fighter -- but Mora had the last laugh after producing the fight of his life against Forrest. The question now to be answered is whether Mora merely flattered to deceive or whether he can give a similarly impressive performance against a presumably more focused, better prepared Forrest. Mora, naturally, believes that what he did in June he can do again on Saturday. Defending the title on Mexican Independence Day gives him an added boost, he said, calling the coincidence "a dream come true. I mean, that's like a storybook. And for me to go out there as the world champion is just unbelievable." Mora knows that there are some who see the win over Forrest as a fluke. "I've just got to keep little by little changing people's minds like I did the first fight," he said. "And if I can put a stamp on the second fight, then maybe I can eliminate some more criticism. But there's always going to be people with negativity, always."
Tom Casino/ShowtimeDoes Mora, left, have Forrest's number?
|TV lineup the Golden Boy Promotions/HBO PPV card Saturday night (9 ET) from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas: • Lightweights: Joel Casamayor (36-3-1, 22 KOs) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (48-4-1, 35 KOs), 12 rounds, for Casamayor's title • Junior middleweights: Sergio Mora (21-0-1, 5 KOs) vs. Vernon Forrest (40-3, 29 KOs), 12 rounds, rematch, for Mora's title • Junior welterweights: Victor Ortiz (21-1-1, 16 KOs) vs. Roberto Arrieta (30-13-4, 13 KOs), 12 rounds • Super middleweights: Julio Cesar Garcia (41-3, 34 KOs) vs. Danny Perez (32-5, 17 KOs), 10 rounds|
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