By Jake Donovan
Former reality star Sergio Mora kept alive his rapidly declining career with a 7th round stoppage win over Jose “Shibata” Flores in their 10-round affair Friday evening at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
Mora weighed 161 lb. for the middleweight main event; Flores came in at 158 ¾ lb.
Despite being eight years young and the much fresher fighter, Mora spent most of the evening fight in reverse while the 39-year old Shibata Flores – a title contender a decade ago – constantly charged forward.
The first piece of drama took place in the second round, when Flores snapped back the head of a retreating Mora with a left hand fired from the southpaw stance. Mora spent way too much time with his back touching the ropes, making it too easy for the slow-footed Flores to find him.
Beginning to fall behind, Mora went to work in the 4th round. The former super welterweight titlist began digging to the body, which slowly took its toll on Flores as the rounds wore on.
The action remained competitive throughout and in fact carried the same template – Flores flying off of his stool, Mora enjoying a mid-round flurry at center ring, and Flores rallying back to finish strong. It didn’t make it easy on the ringside judges, although Mora eventually took care of that problem.
Not appreciating the direction of the fight, Mora’s trainer Derrick Campos gave his fighter an earful prior to what turned out to be the final round. Mora responded, firing his jab with conviction at the start of the 7th, also shooting a right hand behind and coming underneath to the body.
For the first time in the fight, Flores struggled to keep up, and it eventually proved to be the difference. Mora let loose with a right hook and left hand towards round end, which served as the beginning of the end. Flores sat on the ropes with his hands pinned to his head as Mora unloaded, with the threat of a stoppage in the air as referee Lou Moret instructed Flores to fight back.
The bell appeared to save the faded Mexican, though he took advantage of an unsuspecting Mora, connecting with a right hook to the chin well after the round ended. Mora yelled for action to be taken, but before Moret could react he was informed by Flores’ corner that the middle-aged fighter was done for the evening.
The official time was 3:00 of the seventh round.
Mora advances to 23-2-2 (7KO) with the win, his first in well over a year. The 31-year old entered the fight on the heels of a nine-month layoff after suffering a split-decision loss to Bryan Vera on ESPN2 during Super Bowl weekend earlier this year.
His draw with nearly-shot Shane Mosley last September puts that much further distance between wins, his last coming against Calvin Green in April ’10. In fact, the win over Green marked his only victory in a span of three years, dating back to his title win over the late Vernon Forrest in June ’08, a career-best achievement that was trumped just three months later.
In beating Flores, Mora lives to fight another day, although every indication is that he’s forever done as a contender, now six years after becoming a known entity thanks to the reality show “The Contender.” Perhaps sensing he’s at the end, Mora is now in search of cashout fight as he called out lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez after the fight.
Unlike Mora, the 39-year old Flores spent much of his career in anonymity. His claim to fame was giving Fernando Vargas a moderate challenge before suffering a 7th round stoppage in what turned out to be his lone title shot. Having stepped away from the game after a shutout loss to Verno Phillips in 2002, Flores returned last year and had won two straight before falling short to journeyman Roberto Garcia earlier this year.
The loss to Mora is his second straight and most likely spells the end of his long career as he falls to 45-12 (26KO).
Hugo “The Boss” Centero cleaned up the telecast with a hard-fought six-round decision win over sub .500 clubfighter Hector Orozco.
Scores were 59-55 and 58-56 (2x) in the spirited welterweight swing bout, with Orozco performing way beyond his pay grade in giving Centero a scare and also winning over the crowd. So inspired was the crowd, that they booed the final verdict, although it appeared on the surface to be the correct call.
Centero advances to 10-0 (6KO), though not the finest day in the office for the 20-year old Oxnard prospect. Boasting a paper thin resume thus far, an upgrade in competition is mandatory if Golden Boy Promotions intends to keep him in televised bouts.
Orozco falls to 4-9 (0KO), though hardly embarrassed himself in the process. The hard-luck Minnesota journeyman is no stranger to being overmatched, with all but two of pro fights to date coming against undefeated opponents. One of the two exceptions came in a rematch to a fighter (RJ Lasse) he earlier became the first to beat, with his other three wins coming in rematches avenging earlier losses.
Jose Vargas spent nearly four rounds of his six-round swing bout against Oscar Chinchilla with his right eye swollen shut, but the super featherweight prospect persevered with a well-earned unanimous decision in a terrific slugfest. 59-54, 58-55 and 57-56
It hasn’t been the easiest of comebacks for the 32-year old Vargas, who returned to the ring earlier this year after an 11-year “break.” Dating back to 2000, the Coachella native was stuck in a three-fight funk (0-1-2) before being fed a soft touch earlier this summer for the sake of getting a win.
He most certainly earned one against Chinchilla, who recovered from a second round knockdown to go to war with his in-state rival. Despite scoring a knockdown, it was Vargas on the verge of suffering a stoppage loss when enough left hands began to cause massive swelling to his right eye.
It was bad enough to where an extended break took place in between the third and fourth rounds so that ringside physicians could take a look. After conferring with the referee, it was decided to let the bout continue.
Toe-to-toe action soon followed, as neither fighter gave an inch the rest of the way.
Vargas earns the hell out of the win as he improves to 6-1-1 (0KO). Chinchilla is now a .500 fighter in falling to 2-2-1 (0KO) but certainly fought well enough to earn a future TV date.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]