The sport of Boxing can be and often is a sport of opportunities. Some fighters work their way up and are able to position themselves for a mandatory world title shot. There are also fighters however, who are given the chance to fight for a world title by way of a champion choosing to make an elective title defense.
In the case of former WBC Jr. Middleweight world champion Sergio Mora the year 2015 was to begin with one such opportunity as he was slated to challenge current IBF Middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor on February 6th in Biloxi, Mississippi. Many Boxing fans remember Mora as being the season one winner of “The Contender” reality TV series in 2005. Mora would go on to score an upset when he dethroned two-division world champion Vernon Forrest for the WBC Jr. Middleweight world championship in June 2008. Mora’s reign as champion would come to an end three months later as he would lose the championship back to Forrest in their rematch in September 2008.
After losing the title back to Forrest, Mora would not return to the ring until April 2010 when he moved up in weight to the Middleweight division and scored a seventh round stoppage of Calvin Green. Since then, Mora has faced some difficulty in trying to emerge in the world title picture as a Middleweight. Following his win over Green, Mora earned what some feel was a controversial draw in his fight with multi-division world champion Shane Mosley in September 2010 and would come out on the losing end of two close decisions to Middleweight contender Brian Vera in February 2011 and August 2012.
Despite suffering those setbacks, Mora has fought on and has won his last four fights since his second fight with Vera in 2012. Most recently, Mora scored an eight round unanimous decision over Dashon Johnson in December of last year. On the momentum of a four fight winning streak in which he scored two knockouts in those four wins, Mora secured an opportunity to challenge two-time Middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor for Taylor’s IBF world championship. Unfortunately for Mora, his opportunity to become a two-division world champion will not take place on February 6th.
Taylor, who won the IBF championship in October of last year scoring a twelve round unanimous decision over Sam Soliman, has had legal troubles including an arrest on charges of domestic battery and aggravated assault in connection with the alleged shooting of his cousin Tyrone Hinton in August of last year prior to his fight with Soliman. To complicate matters further Taylor was arrested in January and charged with five counts of aggravated assault, three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, and possession of marijuana in connection with an incident following a Martin Luther King Day parade in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas where Taylor allegedly discharged a firearm. Taylor pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on $50,000 bail. The arrest as well as a broken rib Taylor suffered while training for the fight with Mora subsequently resulted in the cancellation of the fight.
The legal troubles that Jermain Taylor is facing has put the status of the IBF Middleweight world championship in question and for the moment has taken an opportunity for a shot at the title away from Sergio Mora. Mora however, will still fight on Friday night when he faces Abraham Han at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Han, who will enter the fight with a record of 23-1, with 14 Knockouts is coming off a ten round majority decision win over Marcos Reyes in October of last year. A question that some might ask as this fight approaches is what effect if any will the cancellation of the bout with Taylor have on Mora, who will enter the fight with a record of 27-3-2, with 9 Knockouts.
Mora and Han, who are currently rated number fourteen and fifteen respectively in the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) rankings will fight for the vacant United States Boxing Association (USBA) Middleweight title. Although what will become of the legal problems involving Jermain Taylor and the status of the IBF Middleweight world championship is unknown, I believe that the winner of this fight could well find himself in position for a potential title shot for the IBF title, if in the event the IBF strips Taylor of the title and chooses to order a fight for what would be the vacant championship.
Although fighters such as Billy Joe Saunders, David Lemieux, Peter Quillin, and Felix Sturm are all currently rated higher in the IBF’s Middleweight ratings than Mora and Han, it is important to remember that up until a couple of weeks ago Sergio Mora was going to challenge for the IBF title. One could assume based on this that the winner of the fight between Mora and Han will likely be in line for a title shot and could very well find himself in position to go against current IBF number one contender Hassan N’Dam if the IBF title does become vacated.
What will become of the IBF Middleweight championship picture remains to be seen. The outcome of this fight however, may open possibilities for interesting fights down the road in what is one of the sport’s most competitive divisions. We will see what happens on Friday night.
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