Tuesday, February 1, 2011
ESPN’s Friday Night Fights pits Fort Worth Native against former world champion boxer
Besides the spectacle in the ring, numerous NFL players are expected to be in attendance.
FORT WORTH On a fight card billed as the Superbrawl, former WBC junior middleweight champion Sergio Mora (22-1-2, 6 KO’s) faces Fort Worth born Bryan Vera (17-5, 11 KO’s) on February 4 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. One of the many events in ESPN’s live broadcasts from Fort Worth, the fight card begins at 7 p.m. and airs on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. local time.
Both fighters are products of the reality TV series The Contender and will fight at the 160 pound middleweight limit. While Mora is a clear-cut favorite, Vera looks to upset another high level contender. In 2008, Vera defeated Andy Lee (24-1, 18 KO’s) by knockout in the seventh round, handing the Irishman his only loss. Past Vera opponents include three currently undefeated fighters: Maksym Bursak, Craig McEwan, and James Kirkland. “You can never count him out,” says Lester Bedford, sports manager and marketer for the fight. “He’s had too many fights where he’d lost before the bell even rang and came back to beat the other guy.”
Having fought in his home state only once since 2006, Vera expects local support. “This is the first opportunity for Bryan to fight where he has the crowd behind him in four or five years,” says David Watson, Vera’s manager. Vera had been scheduled to fight former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik at Cowboys Stadium on the undercard of Pacquiao-Margarito in November before Pavlik pulled out of the fight for ambiguous reasons. Pavlik subsequently entered an alcohol rehabilitation center. “It was devastating [when Pavlik withdrew] because that was Bryan’s chance,” Watson says. “We were notified eight days before the fight. It was a big money fight for us and an opportunity.”
Mora also has much at stake after a lackluster performance in his last fight, a draw against future hall-of-famer Shane Mosley. After winning NBC’s original Contender, Mora captured a junior middleweight title from the late Vernon Forrest, but lost a subsequent rematch. Known for his boxing ability but criticized for his defensive style and lack of power punching, Mora seeks to reestablish his place as a world champion with a strong showing against Vera. “It’s an opportunity for him to redeem himself,” says Bedford. Although one might expect Mora to fight more aggressively than usual, Watson says Vera is planning for multiple scenarios. “I don’t think he wants to trade with Vera, so his only choice is to fight like he fights: Use his distance and tie up.”
In the semi-main event, Charles Hatley (14-0, 11 KO’s) of Dallas will fight southpaw Chris Chatman (9-1, 4 KO’s). A top prospect, Hatley is a former U.S. National Amateur Champion and Olympic alternate. Hatley defeated long time veteran and fan favorite Emmanuel Augustus in his last fight. Chatman lacks Hatley’s amateur pedigree, but his only loss comes to rising star Demetrius Andrade, the 2007 world amateur champion and 2008 U.S. Olympian.
Rounding out the undercard, Olympian Luis Yanez (4-0) of Duncanville and U.S. Jr. Olympic Champion Ray Ximenez (1-0) of Dallas will fight in separate bantamweight bouts. Besides the spectacle in the ring, numerous NFL players are expected to be in attendance. Forty seats have been reserved for Pittsburg Steelers players who will be staying at the Omni Hotel in downtown Fort Worth.
Tickets for this event are available now through Ticketmaster and will be on sale at the Fort Worth Convention Center on fight night.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Assignment Desk, DFW
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