To get the action started for this week’s edition of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, coming live from Jacksonville, Florida, undefeated Brazilian prospect Patrick Teixeira (19-0, 17 KO) met Marcus Willis (13-2-2, 3 KO) in a 10-round contest of junior middleweights.
From early on in the fight Teixeira showed he was the bigger and stronger puncher, and at times through the early rounds he hurt Willis with only seconds left, but was unable to close the deal.
As each round passed Teixeira continued to find his rhythm and it was because of his diligence in continuing to come forward but at the same time Willis’ inability to use his jab to stop the taller fighter in his tracks.
While Teixeira could’ve controlled each round using his technical boxing and jab over the shorter Willis, he chose to make it a slugfest allowing himself to get caught more often than he would if he chose to box more sensibly.
In the fourth round Teixeira suffered the first cut of his career due to an accidental head butt, but it proved not to be an issue as the fight got deep into the late round.
Willis showed his scrappiness as he continued to stand in front of Teixeira and exchange power shots, but got caught with the most solid shot of the night in round seven and was nearly stopped against the ropes with two minutes left. It appeared that Teixeria was going to get a referee stoppage, but only head hunted when he had Willis pinned, and was unable to connect with the money shot to say good night. Willis escaped the barrage as it seemed that Teixeira punched himself out.
Both fighters entered the ninth round for the first times in their career, and with only two rounds left it was evident that Willis needed a knockout to win the fight, which was a tough task since he is not known for his power.
The 22-year-old Teixeira extended his unbeaten streak to 20 wins as he was awarded a unanimous decision, but showed he needs more refinement before he takes a step to the next level of competition. But having been forced to go 10 rounds for the first time in his young career, he showed strong conditioning in being able to finish the fight strongly.
In the main event of the night former WBC light middleweight champion and Contender champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora (23-3-2, 7 KO) looked to get back to contention status as he faced Grzegorz “Super G” Proksa (29-2, 21 KO).
Mora reached the pinnacle of his career to date back in 2008 when he defeated Vernon Forrest to capture the belt, but in the five years since has only gone 2-3-1.
He knew that tonight was the chance he needed to show that he still has what it takes to hang with the division’s best and work his way toward a title fight again, but the action following the commencement of the first round was off to a slow start.
Proksa was very tentative with his attack, coming in with his hands at his sides and moving his head but rarely looked to setup his jab or any combinations.
Mora was off to his typical start, fighting in spurts and looking to establish angles with his elusiveness and fast feet.
In the fifth round Mora turned up the pace a bit as he backed up Proksa and landed a nice combination of punches, but as he has done in his past, backed off rather than going in for the kill, letting Proksa get his feet back under him.
The fight was a bit of a standstill until Mora really came alive and began to dominate, using his faster hands in the seventh round. Proksa never had a chance to find any strategy that appeared effective against Mora, and Mora saw this and capitalized on it for the remainder of the fight, winning an easy unanimous decision.
Despite getting off to a slow start, Mora was able to show his poise and experience in finishing strong and if anything else making a statement that he has what it takes to fight for the hardware again.