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Saturday Night Fights – Sergio Mora vs. Vernon Forrest

It’s been a good year and a half since I missed watching a UFC PPV, but with their recent UFC 85: Bedlam show, I couldn’t talk myself into paying $44.95 to watch a very average card. Had this been on live television, I’d have been all over it. But there just wasn’t anything that I had to see. It wasn’t really the UFC’s fault though. Originally, Chuck Liddell was supposed to face Shogun Rua (and then Rashad Evans), but Chuck hurt his hamstring and turned it purple and he was out of the fight. Chris Leben and Michael Bisping were also supposed to fight, but Leben had issues with the authorities which didn’t allow him to train for the fight, and that one was scrapped too. Matt Hughes and Thiago Alves became the main event and while I’m a Hughes fan and Alves is a good fighter, there was nothing there. It was simply put together at the last minute and I wasn’t moved to buy the show.

Even though I wasn’t going to pay to watch MMA last night, I got my fix via the sweet science. Showtime and HBO both had fight cards last night and while it’s a pity as to what relates to big boxing cards on cable TV these days, at least I had some fighting to watch.

The fight I was most interested in had more to do with the challenger than the champ. Vernon Forrest was the WBC Super Welterweight champion and he was fighting Sergio Mora. Mora was the winner from the first season of The Contender, but with only 5 knockouts in his 20 victories, no one was really taking him seriously, including Forrest. Forrest called him a pretender instead of a contender and who could blame him? Mora hadn’t fought anyone and it seemed that his fights were strategically put together so that he could get a title fight without anyone really knowing if he could fight. But Mora fought last night, and shocked the boxing world. Ok, maybe he didn’t shock the world. But this was still an upset.

Mora didn’t really hurt Forrest, but he out boxed the man from about the 5th round on. He was quicker, in better shape, and probably landed more power shots as well. Forrest is the real deal and I’m not sure if his age caught up with him or he simply had an off night, but the younger Mora was taking it to the champion for more than half the fight. It wasn’t what I expected. He would follow a Forrest right hand by taking a step to his right and throwing a sharp left hook. It didn’t look like a dance as many great fights do. It was awkward and there was a ton of grabbing, but in the end, we had a new champ and something that the Contender brand desperately needed.

(On the undercard, lanky Paul Williams beat Carlos Quintana for the WBO Welterweight championship by knockout in the first round. Williams reminds me of a bulkier version of Mark Breland, who won a gold medal in 1984 at the Summer Olympics. Coincidentally, Breland has trained Vernon Forrest in the past.)

On the HBO side, Kelly Pavlik just destroyed a young man named Gary Lockett. It was like video game boxing. Pavlik walked right through him, didn’t really move his head at all and stalked Lockett down. Lockett definitely got his shots in, but Pavlik simply didn’t think he could hurt him and just threw tons of straight rights at Lockett. Lockett went woozy twice, but instead of falling, he took a knee for the standing eight count. He went down a third time and his corner threw in the towel in the third round. That was one of the biggest mismatches I’ve seen in a while.

Did I miss the UFC show? Maybe a little bit. Did the boxing make up for it? Eh, it came close. Watching Mora do his thing was good enough, even if neither man was in any trouble. But I guess that’s the difference between boxing and the UFC. In the UFC, you’re so conditioned to see fights end in entertaining fashion. When they don’t, the fans usually turn on the fighters. While there were a few boo birds during Mora’s victory, by the end of the fight, he had them in his back pocket.

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