By Jackie Kallen
It’s been almost 10 years since the first season of The Contender debuted on NBC.
Most fans agree that it was — by far — the best season.
With Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard at the helm, it was an interesting show whose premise was to highlight 16 of the alleged top boxers in the sport, even if it didn’t end up actually doing that.
But for the winner, Sergio Mora, it was a launching pad.
This week, Mora (known as “The Latin Snake” and now 34 years old), is fighting on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights to be telecast from Biloxi. His opponent is 23-1 Abraham Han from El Paso, TX. This is an important fight for Mora, because a win keeps him relevant in the game and a loss could mark a slippage in ratings. With a record of 27-3-2, Mora would benefit greatly from an impressive win on TV.
Mora was supposed to face Jermain Taylor, but due to Taylor’s rib injury and subsequent arrest for aggravated assault, he is obviously not fighting. Han was happy to take the fight at the last minute and sees it as the opportunity of a lifetime. He is, no surprise, predicting an upset.
After his win on The Contender, Mora was not as active as he would have hoped he’d be. He fought twice in 2006, once in 2007, and three times in 2008. In June 2008 he won the WBC title by defeating the late Vernon Forrest. However, three months later, Forrest beat him in the rematch and reclaimed the belt.
After that, Mora didn’t fight again until April 2010, when he KO’d Calvin Green in the 7th round. He managed to eke out a draw against Shane Mosley a few months after that, and then fought twice in 2011 and only once in 2012, when he lost a close decision to Brian Vera for the vacant WBO NABO Middleweight title.
Following that, Mora fought twice in 2013 and twice in 2014.
Mora has expressed his efforts to stay optimistic and focused during his roller coaster ride since The Contender. Through the wins and the losses, he has still kept his eye on the prize and is determined to nab a title in the next few outings.
On the FNF undercard, Detroit’s undefeated 25 year-old super welterweight Dominique Dalton will face Juan Carlos Rojas in an eight-round battle. Dolton lost to Keith Thurman in the 2008 Olympic Trials and is considered to be one of the top prospects in his weight class. At 15-0 with 8 KOs, he has not yet met anyone who posed a threat to him.
Rojas, 7-8, will hardly be the man to upset the applecart. But it’s activity and all boxers need that to stay sharp.