Middleweight titleholder Daniel Jacobs does not at all hide the fact that he really had no interest in giving Sergio Mora a rematch.
He believes it is a step backward for his career.
"I absolutely do. I mean, to me, this is kind of like a just-stay-busy fight because we weren't able to get the fight that we actually wanted, for whatever reason," Jacobs said. "But, to me, I don't think this does anything for my career. We've always wanted to move up to bigger and better opposition each time out. This is kind of a step back."
Nonetheless, Jacobs will defend his secondary title for the fourth time when he fights former junior middleweight titlist Mora in a rematch on Friday (Spike, 9 p.m. ET) at the Santander Center in Reading, Pennsylvania.
In the cofeature of the Premier Boxing Champions card, lightweight contenders Robert Easter Jr. (17-0, 14 KOs), 25, of Toledo, Ohio, and Richard Commey (24-0, 22 KOs), 29, of Ghana, will square off for a vacant world title.
Thirteen months ago, Jacobs and Mora both suffered knockdowns in the first round of an unexpectedly wild fight. In the second round, Jacobs was awarded a knockout victory when he dropped Mora again with a right hand, and Mora broke his right ankle going down and was unable to continue.
"I mean, to me, this is kind of like a just-stay-busy fight because we weren't able to get the fight that we actually wanted, for whatever reason. But, to me, I don't think this does anything for my career. We've always wanted to move up to bigger and better opposition each time out. This is kind of a step back." Daniel Jacobs
At least that is Jacobs' version of events and why the fight was called off. Mora, however, disputes the legitimacy of the knockdown because he said he had twisted his ankle before the punch was thrown.
It is a bitter point of contention, and they spent several minutes arguing about it on a recent teleconference with reporters to talk about the rematch, Mora's first fight since the injury and Jacobs' first since his electrifying first-round knockout of Brooklyn neighborhood pal and former titleholder Peter Quillin in December.
"It was no knockdown. I'm the one getting punched, by the way, so I didn't feel the punch, and it was definitely just me twisting my ankle," Mora said. "It was Jacobs pushing me down as well. Yeah, the referee kept warning Jacobs also that he was pushing me down with his elbow. I normally go down low like that. So, it's not the first time it happened. So, it's a mix of a lot of things. But it wasn't a punch to knock me down. It was all my ankle. And if it was a punch, then why didn't I stay down? I was up at the count of two or three on one foot. So, it definitely wasn't a punch."
Jacobs (31-1, 28 KOs), 29, of Brooklyn, New York, did not let that go unanswered, interjecting, "He's saying that that last shot wasn't a punch that put him down. I don't know what my eyes were seeing, or I don't know what my fists felt, but in my opinion, and I think, if you clearly go to the video, the replay, it was a punch that put him down. It was the uppercut that started [it] and then it was the overhand right that put him down."
The 35-year-old Mora (28-4-2, 9 KOs), of East Los Angeles, said the right hand only grazed him and did not cause him to fall.
"Yeah, the overhand right grazed the back of my head, but my ankle was already twisted," Mora said.
Said Jacobs: "It could be a graze. It could be whatever you want to say it could be, but it put you down."
So, punch? Graze? Twisted ankle? Whatever it really was, Jacobs had heard enough from Mora about it, and when other fights Jacobs hoped to have did not pan out, such as the one against world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, he agreed to fight Mora again.
"It was no knockdown. I'm the one getting punched, by the way, so I didn't feel the punch, and it was definitely just me twisting my ankle... It was all my ankle. And if was a punch, then why didn't I stay down? I was up at the count of two or three on one foot. So, it definitely wasn't a punch." Sergio Mora
"I understand that it left a bitter taste in certain people's mouths because of the way Sergio Mora lost but, in my opinion, he was on the verge [of being knocked out] anyway," Jacobs said. "So that's how I look at it. But this is for me an opportunity to kind of quiet the critics and just make the final statement once and for all that I am the better fighter, better boxer.
"Hell, I'm better in general inside that square ring. Sergio Mora has nothing in there to stop me."
Jacobs did not plan to be out of the ring for nine months following his 85-second destruction of Quillin, but it happened because of the difficulty making other bouts, he said.
"I've been out for quite some time. The reason we've actually been out for so long was because we were trying to get a better opportunity at fighting B.J. Saunders," Jacobs said. "Obviously, that fight took a little longer than anticipated. And this is the reason why this fight is happening. It isn't because I've been avoiding Sergio Mora. I just understand that this fight for my career at this particular point isn't really going to do anything for me.
"It's more going to do more for Sergio than it would do for me. But me and him have the same management in Al Haymon. So I can understand why this fight is being made. But the reasons why he's saying this fight is being made as far as me ducking him and not wanting to fight him, I mean, that's absurd. That's absurd. But I'm just excited nevertheless to be back into the ring."
Mora could not care less about Jacobs' dismissive attitude. He is simply happy to have a second chance to win another title after the abrupt ending to the first bout. He has gone through a rigorous rehabilitation and said the ankle is now back to normal.
"I'm going to have that TKO on my record for the rest of my career and the rest of my life, and it's sad because I don't want it to be on a technicality," Mora said. "So does it irk me? Absolutely. But am I past it? Yes. I just want an opportunity to clear whatever happened. Jacobs said that he dropped me twice. I only fell once. I dropped him once. Round of the year [according to] Sports Illustrated. Second round, I feel I was in control and winning. With five or 10 seconds left, the injury happens, and I bust my ankle.
"So there's a lot of unanswered questions, and for whatever reason this fight is happening again. I'm fully prepared for whatever comes. I just want my opportunity, and I'm thankful that I got it."