- Dan Rafael, Boxing
- 0 Shares
LAS VEGAS -- Vernon Forrest, apparently, isn't done after all.
Labeled washed up by many after losing his junior middleweight title to Sergio Mora in a poor performance in June, Forrest recaptured his old form and his title Saturday night, easily outpointing Mora in their rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The fight, which was far more entertaining than their first dreadful encounter, was the co-feature on the card headlined by the Joel Casamayor-Juan Manuel Marquez lightweight championship fight.
From the outset, Forrest (41-3, 29 KOs) -- also a former welterweight champion who twice defeated a prime Shane Mosley -- used a strong right hand and accurate left jab to control the fight.
Mora, who won the first season of the reality series "The Contender" and became the show's first world titleholder, was never really in the fight, and it showed on the scorecards: 119-108, 118-109 and 117-110, all for Forrest. ESPN.com also had it for Forrest, 117-110.
"Now you see the difference between a contender and a real champion," Forrest said. "My better was better than his better. I had a bad night in the first fight. I was flat. Tonight it was basic Boxing 101 -- jab, jab, jab."
When they met for the first time June 7, Forrest was a big favorite but didn't show much during the fight. Forrest was out of gas halfway through the bout and Mora, 27, went on to claim a majority decision, after which he had possible fights with Mosley and middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik on the table.
However, Forrest, 37, had a rematch clause in his contract and exercised his option for a return match, which Mora (21-1-1, 5 KOs) begrudgingly gave him.
At Friday's weigh-in, Mora was two pounds over the 154-pound limit, although he made it on his second try almost two hours later. Mora blamed that for his less-than-stellar performance.
"My legs weren't there, and my weight didn't come out the way it usually does," Mora said. "I only had six weeks to train, and I usually have 10. It was a short camp and I worked too hard. This guy is old and I should have won."
Forrest had a big fifth round, during which referee Vic Drakulich warned both fighters for dirty tactics. They had head-butted each other and thrown low blows often during the fight.
But Forrest landed a thudding right hand that clearly hurt Mora. Later in the round, he had Mora wobbly after firing a combination just before the bell. In the sixth, Forrest again hurt Mora with right hands, and Mora was holding on.
At the end of the seventh, Forrest unloaded a left hook to the chin that dropped Mora into the ropes and Drakulich properly ruled a knockdown.
In his first fight since officially signing with Golden Boy, junior welterweight prospect Victor Ortiz (22-1-1, 17 KOs) powered to an easy fifth-round TKO win against Argentina's Roberto Arrieta (30-14-4, 13 KOs).
Ortiz signed with Golden Boy earlier this month, a move that was expected. He had declared bankruptcy and had his contract with Top Rank thrown out. During the legal proceedings, Ortiz got an injunction that allowed him to box on Oscar De La Hoya's May 3 undercard, a fight in which he stopped Dairo Esalas in the fifth round. But Ortiz looked rusty and was knocked down.
Against Arrieta, Ortiz looked much sharper. He dropped Arrieta in the second and fourth rounds before dropping him again with a right hand in the fifth. Arrieta, who was cut over his right eye, made it to his feet, but referee Jay Nady called it off at 2:25.
"During the fight he was telling me I was too young and I would never be a world champion and that he was the champion," Ortiz said. "In that round I dropped him and I said I was the champ. Now I want to get in with some high-profile names."
Arrieta, 32, was an experienced trial horse with losses to Vicente Escobedo (a Golden Boy lightweight prospect) and former junior lightweight titlist Mzonke Fana.
• When super middleweight Julio Cesar Garcia (41-4, 34 KOs) faced Troy Browning in an ESPN2 fight last summer, he was a big favorite but lost a majority decision after sleepwalking through the fight. Garcia did the same thing against Danny Perez, but this time lost unanimously.
Perez thoroughly dominated the 21-year-old Garcia, whom manager Shelly Finkel and Golden Boy had high hopes for.
Instead, Garcia turned in a lethargic performance and lost 100-90, 99-91 and 97-93.
For Perez, it was a career-boosting victory.
He was a onetime welterweight contender who once knocked Antonio Margarito down in 1999 in the first of Perez's two losses to him. He took the fight with Garcia on just a couple of weeks' notice after the Nevada commission would not approve faded former junior middleweight titleholder Yory Boy Campas.
Perez, 31, ended a three-year layoff with a six-round decision win in July and looked good as he backed Garcia up all night and landed hard blows with both hands.
"I took a few years off and now I am back and strong and ready to go," Perez said.
• Middleweight Daniel Jacobs (9-0, 9 KOs), a fast-rising 21-year-old prospect from Brooklyn, N.Y., didn't break a sweat, needing just 57 seconds to blow out Ramon Espinoza (10-8, 4 KOs), who didn't appear to have any stomach for a fight. He went down seemingly from a phantom shot early in the first round and then went down again from an overhand right that didn't look very damaging. Referee Toby Gibson immediately stopped it to give Jacobs his seventh first-round knockout.
• Philadelphia blue-chip junior welterweight prospect Danny Garcia (7-0, 6 KOs) dropped Tyrone Wiggins (9-23-1, 6 KOs) with a double left hook to knock him out at 1:04 of the first round. Garcia was coming back from a broken thumb that had kept him out since May.
• Puerto Rican featherweight prospect Carlos Velasquez (9-0, 8 KOs) stopped Jose Navarrete (12-18-2, 5 KOs) at 1:11 of the fifth round of a scheduled eight-rounder. Velasquez won every round until knocking Navarrete to a knee. He beat the count, but referee Robert Byrd stopped it.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.
Washed up? Hardly. Vernon Forrest proved he still has it by outgunning Sergio Mora over 12 rounds on Saturday.