Sergio Mora is the kind of fun-lovin’ dude who could find a way to have a good time with a ball of string—especially if that string was wrapped around a six-pack.
An open book whose pages could have been penned by a raconteur like Oscar Wilde, Sergio Mora (28-3-2, 9 KOs) acknowledges that in the past, the best of times occasionally got the best of him.
“I’ve always been inconsistent, because I like to enjoy myself,” he says, his voice radiating as much energy as the battery in his cellphone. “I love traveling, I love good company and I like going to bars.”
Mora, who will challenge 160-pound champion Daniel Jacobs in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), has long lived life with the unchecked enthusiasm of a kid who’s discovered the skeleton key to the Chuck E. Cheese franchise.
But in recent years, he says he’s learned to balance revelry with a measure of restraint.
Mora cites his back-to-back fights with late, great former 154-pound champ Vernon Forrest as a turning point.
In their first meeting, in June 2008, Mora outfoxed the skilled veteran, tying Forrest in knots by attacking him at the kind of tricky angles that could have confused a geometry nerd.
Mora won a world title in the process. His rematch with Forrest, however, would be a different story, one with an ending as bleak as a Cormac McCarthy novel.
“When I became champion, I got lured into the champion lifestyle and that was because of my lack of responsibility,” Mora says. “Three months later, I lost that title to the same fighter. He wasn’t any better, but I was different.”
“I was living high on the hog and being called ‘champ’ everywhere,” Mora remembers. “I spent the entire camp losing weight and feeling horrible. It taught me a lot. I was at a point in my career where I needed that reality check.”
Seven years later, Mora’s second scrap with Forrest remains a transformative moment for him.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Mora since then—there were plenty of choppy waters in his two debatable decision losses to Brian Vera in 2011 and 2012—but these days, he's riding a five-fight winning streak and looking more dynamic in the ring than he has in years.
And it can all be traced back to that night when he faced Forrest for the second time.
Mora may have lost the fight, but he gained perspective.
“That fight right there, it made me a man,” he says. “It made me realize, ‘You forever have got to kick your own ass because if you don’t, someone else is going to do it for you.’”
For complete coverage of Jacobs vs Mora, visit our fight page.