By Gary Purfield
Brian Vera won his super bowl in his hometown of Fort Worth with a close split decision nod over former contender champ and former WBC junior middleweight champ Sergio Mora. Vera used pressure and his face first style to win the main event of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights which was live from Fort Worth Texas to kick off Super Bowl weekend with the big game on Sunday being held in nearby Dallas Texas.
The two contenders gave their all and put on an entertaining close fight. Further they demonstrated that often it does not take undefeated fighters on the pound for pound list to provide a good action filled fight. It simply takes a good matchup of styles and two guys willing to go.
The main event deemed “Super Brawl” was a ten round middleweight bout with a contracted weight limit of 163lbs.
Mora has been the most successful of the contender participants including winning a world title beating the late Vernon Forrest. Following his bout with Shane Mosley Mora was heavily criticized by fans and media when he made little effort to engage his opponent. The Mosley fight was an opportunity to show his potential on a big stage against one of the best of this generation but Mora failed to impress. Leading up to the Vera fight Mora made statements that he would show a different side and deliver a crowd pleasing performance.
Meanwhile Vera has not had the same success including losing four of his past five coming into this bout but he has fought tough competition since his time on the contender series. Vera has been able to produce some upsets including knocking out then undefeated prospect Andy Lee in 2008.
Vera took control early putting pressure on Mora from the opening bell by coming forward and throwing a high volume of punches. Mora’s slick defense allowed him to slip a lot of punches in the early rounds but still the sheer volume of Vera’s attack allowed him to land shots. Vera was committed to relentless pressure and his attack. Mora, despite saying he would be more aggressive in this fight seemed like the same Sergio early on. He would slip punches, make a face at this opponent but would not return fire.
In round five the fight took a change with an intense round of toe to toe action. The first four rounds were often fought with Vera pressing Mora into the ropes. In round five the action was in the center of the ring with both fighters active giving and receiving punches. This was the first round it really seemed Mora might get into the fight.
The remainder of the fight saw back and forth action with each fighter trying to gain and maintain momentum. Vera was able to open a cut over Mora’s left eye in the sixth round with a punch. Another cut was opened over Mora’s right eye in the seventh, this time from an accidental head butt.
With cuts over each eye and probably knowing he was down on the cards Mora mounted a late aggressive rally. He controlled the ninth for his biggest round but may have emptied the gas tank a round early. Mora seemed to have control of the tenth as well but did not have the same energy he brought in the previous round. By the end of the fight both fighters were bleeding and tired but managed to flurry down the stretch with what they had left.
Vera was awarded the tight upset split decision with one judge giving the fight to Mora 96-94 and the other two judges seeing it for Vera with identical scores of 96-94. Many of the rounds were close and difficult to score but Vera did seem to deserve the fight with his pressure and being the busy fighter outworking his opponent.
For Vera 18-5 (11 KO) he sets himself up for more opportunities at upper level fighters and decent paydays. He has demonstrated that win or lose he provides a stiff test for the top fighters and comes to fight making for crowd pleasing action. Mora 22-2-2 (6 KO) suffers a massive set back. This fight was supposed to not only be a win but one in which he looked good to set up future opportunities. Instead of looking ahead to title shots Mora will have to return to the drawing board.
In the opening bout of the broadcast undefeated prospect Charles Hatley and spoiler Chris Chatman fought to a draw in an eight round junior middleweight bout. Hatley is a well-regarded prospect but so far has been matched soft. Chatman not having the pedigree of Hatley has made the most of opportunity. His only loss was to top prospect and Olympian Demetrius Andrade. Recently Chatman has made a habit beating undefeated prospects with wins over Lester Gonzalez, Alberto Herrera, and two other undefeated fighters.
The fight did not disappoint the crowd as they engaged in a tight and entertaining fight match. Hatley dropped Chatman one minute into the first round with a straight right and looked like he could make it a short night. Chatman managed to survive the round and gets his legs back.
Chatman controlled the middle rounds for the most part with better speed and technique. While Chatman bull rushed in Hatley was able to time his opponent to land clean effective counter punches.
In the late rounds Hatley seemed to be getting tired from eluding Chatman around the ring and Chatman’s punches started getting closer to the mark. Then in round eight behind on the cards Chatman dropped the undefeated prospect with a straight left hand down the middle. Hatley got to his feet and Chatman went in to get the finish. Like Chatman in the first round Hatley was able to survive the onslaught and send the fight to the judges.
The first judge gave the fight to Hatley 77-73 with the other two judge seeing it 75-75 to end the fight with a majority draw. Hatley stays unbeaten at 14-0-1 (11 KO) and Chatman 9-1-1 (4 KO) earned the hard fought draw with his pressure and desire not to give in when behind.
In the middle bout Ray Ximenez destroyed Alfredo Berto in a four round bantamweight fight with all three judges scoring every round for the winner 96-94. Ximenez an eighteen year old still in high school blasted Berto all over the ring in round one with every punch in the book. The referee probably could have stopped the fight several times in the first round as Berto got tagged with power shots and wobbled around the ring.
The second round was much of the same with Ximenez dominating his overmatched opponent. Rounds three and four were also dominated by Ximenez with Berto doing his best to stay in the fight and occasionally land a punch.
Ximenex goes to 2-0 (1 KO) and Berto goes to 1-4 (0 KO). Really not sure why the referee or Berto’s corner did not stop this thing very early with Berto being little more than a punching bag and taking unnecessary punishment in a fight he could not possibly win.
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