Usually when fighters engage in a war of words, it’s nothing more than hype to help sell a fight. In the case of Daniel Jacobs and Sergio Mora, the vitriol is very real.
The veteran brawlers’ genuinely dislike for each other has been evident since Daniel Jacobs (31-1, 28 KOs) defended his 160-pound title with a somewhat controversial victory over Sergio Mora (28-4-2-9 KOs) on August 1, 2015, in Brooklyn, New York.
That night, Jacobs and Mora traded first-round knockdowns. Then near the end of Round 2, the bout suddenly ended when Mora fractured his right ankle while falling to the canvas and was unable to continue.
Jacobs contends—and referee Gary Rosato ruled—that Mora’s injury occurred while he was knocked down by a punch, and thus Jacobs was declared the winner by technical knockout. Mora insists a right hand barely grazed his head as he was ducking, he fell to the canvas because his ankle broke and the fight should’ve been declared a no contest.
In the 13 months since, Mora’s unwillingness to admit he was beaten has rankled Jacobs. At the same time, Mora—angered because Jacobs has downplayed his ring accomplishments—spent months taking shots at the "Miracle Man” while demanding a rematch.
Jacobs finally gave in to the request, and the two rivals are set to meet Friday at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania (Spike, 9 p.m. ET/PT). It’s a rematch the champ didn’t want—he’s gone so far as to call it a “step backward” for his career—but one he’s looking forward to, if nor other reason than he wants to silence “The Latin Snake.”
“I want to hurt this man. I want him to eat his words,” Jacobs, a 29-year-old Brooklyn native, said during a recent pre-fight news conference. “I’m going to come in there and try to punch you in the face.”
Such comments amuse Mora, who believes his nonstop pestering of Jacobs is the only reason he finally agreed to a second meeting.
“I said so many negative things about him that I got under his skin and he took this rematch,” says Mora, a 35-year-old native of East Los Angeles. “Taking criticism is part of being a champion. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. He’s the one with everything to prove.”
“ I want to hurt this man. I want him to eat his words. ” Daniel Jacobs on Sergio Mora
Jacobs certainly proved a lot—in a very short amount of time—in his last bout.
While Mora has spent the past year rehabilitating his ankle, Jacobs returned to action in December and scored a sensational 85-second stoppage of former champion and fellow Brooklyn resident Peter Quillin.
Not only was it Jacobs’ 11th consecutive victory—all by stoppage—but it was easily his most impressive to date.
Now he’s hellbent on destroying Mora in similar fashion.
“He’s landed an opportunity at fighting me again, but this is an opportunity that I'm looking forward to,” he says. “For me, this is probably the first fight that I’m entering in with mean intentions.”
Mora says he expects Jacobs to replicate his game plan from the first fight and attack immediately, meaning the action could continue where it ended last summer.
“I think we’ll pick up where we left off because of the animosity between us,” says Mora, a former 154-pound world titleholder. “We both want to start off getting each other’s respect. I don’t think it’s going the distance.
“Jacobs wants to knock me out, I want to knock him out, and each of us believes he’s capable of doing that. I know he has power early, but he fades late. If it goes past six rounds, that’s in my favor. “
Mora, who burst on the scene by winning The Contender reality show more than a decade ago, has made a career of defying the odds, but he’s done so with a style often maligned as unappealing.
While that certainly wasn’t the case in the action-packed first meeting, Jacobs is convinced Mora has no desire to feel his power once again and has expressed concern his opponent will stay out of harm’s way by reverting to his defensive-minded style in the rematch.
“Sergio Mora’s extremely awkward, which has allowed him to get where he is,” says Jacobs, who weighed in Thursday at 159.6 pounds, while Mora tipped the scales at 159.3. “Now that he knows my power, I doubt he’s coming forward. He’ll try to take me into what he calls deep waters, which means … he’ll try to make [the fight] a stinker.”
Mora contends he plans to test what he calls Jacobs’ “suspect chin,” but that he’s not about to be unnecessarily risky.
“I said I was going to be exciting and more aggressive,” he says. “I didn't say I was going to be stupid.”
Says Jacobs: “He would be stupid to bang toe-to-toe. But this my opportunity to quiet the critics and make a final statement once and for all that I am the better fighter, better boxer and better in general than Sergio Mora. He has nothing to stop me.”
For complete coverage of the Jacobs-Mora rematch, hit up our fight page.