by Fox Doucette
“Latin Snake” Sergio Mora (27-3, 9 KOs) takes on Abraham Han (23-1, 14 KOs) in the main event on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights from Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi this week. Meanwhile, in the co-feature, prospect Erickson Lubin (8-0, 6 KOs) of Colombia gets his first major showcase on national television as he takes on Rodolfo Quintanilla (14-3, 11 KOs), who will be fighting for the first time outside his native Mexico and who has one win in his last six fights.
The main event invites a question that has dogged Sergio Mora ever since he lost the rematch to Bryan Vera (who was last seen getting beaten silly by Willie Monroe on FNF three weeks ago.) Specifically, just what is Mora exactly trying to do with his career? Since August of 2012, Mora has fought four times, and in no case has anyone in the ring with him been anything even approaching a legitimate fighter.
Mora fought Grzegorz Proska of Poland, who wasn’t the same after Gennady Golovkin clobbered him and who looks done after losing a fight to unbeaten Maciej Sulecki in Krakow in his most recent fight. The other three guys the Latin Snake has taken on haven’t even had the legitimacy of being a patsy for a rising champion. He knocked out two chumps in mismatches then couldn’t even get rid of a guy who is 2-15 in his last 17 fights (Dashon Johnson, who to his credit knows what he is—a guy who will give rounds to prospects, since he’s been stopped only twice.)
Read that last bit. “Gives rounds to prospects.” Sergio Mora has world title aspirations, or at least he’ll tell you he does…so what’s he doing 30 fights into his career fighting guys like that? It’s been over two years since his last loss, why’s Mora still in recovery mode?
It’s not like Abraham Han is Carlos Monzon or Marvin Hagler at middleweight. This fight is for the USBA middleweight strap and presumably a privileged place in the IBF’s pecking order. Your titlist at 160 in the IBF is Jermain Taylor, who is facing legal prob…oh. There’s your answer. Both guys in this fight are trying to make a grab for a title that will allow them to call themselves middleweight champion without having to fight Golovkin for the distiction. Glad we’ve settled that, then.
Your other combatant in this contest is Abraham Han. Here’s what you need to know about him. He has 23 wins over mid-level fighters and freight train bouncers. He has a knockout loss to the only prospect worth a damn that he’s ever stepped in with—he got stopped by Glen Tapia, who is himself best known for getting stomped by James Kirkland when he tried to step up in class. Han is roughly the equal of Mora size-wise; both men have fought most of their careers between junior middle and middleweight, occasionally stepping up the scale to 168. Both are the same height, 6’0”. The advantage here is in level of competition (for Mora), not any natural size advantage.
This should be an easy win for Mora, but it’s the kind of fight where he’s painted himself into a corner. Unless he looks spectacular, he’s not only going to hurt his chances of getting a shot at that soon-to-be-vacant IBF strap, he’s also going to kill what’s left of his ability to draw fans on television. The social media audience at ESPN’s official FNF page is already using words like “boring” to describe Sergio; your columnist has even written that Mora’s a better broadcaster than a fighter. We’ve all been wrong before. Maybe Mora’s got a big knockout punch in his bag of tricks. Maybe an upset’s on tap for Han—that’s why we watch.
Meanwhile, the co-feature is classic (and we mean it this time) showcase squasheroo. Erickson Lubin has knocked out six of the eight men to face him and won easy decisions against the other two. Rodolfo Quintanilla has knocked out the nobodies and been smacked around whenever he’s fought someone with any kind of ability. Either Lubin’s going to win an easy one, possibly with some dynamite for the Punch of the Night highlight reel, or else Quintanilla, fighting for the first time in the United States, is going to expose the Colombian big-time. Nothing is truly pre-ordained in this world, but nine times out of ten, you can tell from the matchmaking that Quintanilla is in here as an opponent to make some fresh meat look good. Again—this is why we watch. Lubin has our attention, let’s see what he does with it. A star might be born if his style translates well under the bright lights of the TV experience.
Friday Night Fights airs February 6 at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s events, including any swing fights that make air, shortly following the conclusion of the telecast, and your columnist will be on the ESPN Friday Night Fights Facebook page providing commentary to that audience as always. Keep it here—we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune and writes the weekly What If alternate-history series for this publication. His opinion column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. If you noticed the hedging after last week’s bold but ultimately miles off the mark statements, that was on purpose. Fan mail, hate mail, and Latin Snakes On A Plane jokes for Mora can be sent to email@example.com.