By Dan Ambrose: IBF 160lb champion Jermain Taylor (33-4, 20 KOs) will be defending his title against the aging fringe contender Sergio Mora (27-3-2, 9 KOs) on February 6th at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
This is an ideal first title defense for the 36-year-old Taylor, because Mora doesn’t have the kind of power that has traditionally given Taylor problems in the past. Taylor has suffered bad knockouts at the hands of Kelly Pavlik, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch. However, Taylor has always done good against fighters with little in the way of power, and he should be fine against Mora.
If Taylor gets past Mora, he’ll need to face former WBO middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam in his next defense. N’Dam is the IBF mandatory challenger. Mora is an optional title defense that the International Boxing Federation has approved for Taylor.
This means that Taylor should be able to make at least one successful title defense before he potentially runs into trouble in his second defense against N’Dam.
Mora has a nice little winning streak of four fights against bad opposition. He’s kind of like Taylor in that respect. Mora does well against weak opposition, but when he steps up a class, he loses. He was beaten twice by Brian Vera in fights in 2011 and 2012. When Mora reduced the level of opposition, he turned things around with wins over Dashon Johnson, Dashon Johnson, Milton Nunez and Grzegorz Proksa.
It’s hard to believe that Mora was once a world champion. It seems like so long ago when he defeated the late Vernon Forrest in June of 2008 to win the WBC junior middleweight title. The two fighters faced each other three months later with a motivated and in shape Forrest easily beating Mora by a 12 round decision.
Mora’s career kind of hit a stall after the loss to Forrest. There hasn’t been any other world title shots for Mora until he was signed for the Taylor fight. Mora’s losses to Vera obviously didn’t help matters any. If he had beaten Vera, he would have put himself in range of a title shot. Mora’s soft match-making also has been a problem, because it’s hard to get ranked high when you’re facing 2nd tier opposition instead of the top tier guys.
Promoter Lou Dibella sees the Taylor-Mora fight as a good one. “It’s a quality fight and it gives Jermain a chance to defend his title before his mandatory defense is due,” Dibella said to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. “And for Sergio Mora, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”
For boxing fans thinking that Taylor was going to fight a high caliber opponent for his first title defense, they should have been a little more realistic. I didn’t see Taylor fighting anyone with a pulse for his first optional title defense because of the high risk of him losing his strap if he fought anyone with any kind of talent.
The middleweight division is weak as it is, but picking from the bottom of the rankings will ensure that Taylor will win the fight.
Mora is ranked #10 WBC, #14 IBF, #14 IBF, and his adviser is Al Haymon.