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David De La Mora vs. Anselmo ‘Chemito’ Moreno – Preview

By: Boxing Writer Carl Hewitt

With a victory Saturday night in El Paso, Texas, Panama’s Anselmo ‘Chemito’ Moreno, the WBA 118 lb. champion, can set himself up for much bigger fights when he moves up to the more talent-laden super bantamweight division, as expected. Moreno’s last outing was a career-defining near-shutout decision victory over Australia’s Vic Darchiniyan, a former three-division champion. By the sixth round, Darchinyan had been reduced to overly-aggressive lunging and rabbit punching. Even in defeats to Nonito Donaire, Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares, The Raging Bull was at least competitive for the duration. Against Moreno, however, he looked to be in over his head against a man who’d promised an impressive display, and delivered one.

So just how good is Moreno? Well, he hasn’t tasted defeat since dropping a unanimous four-round decision in his native Panama to Saturnino Camacho nine years ago. Since then, it’s been nothing but the winner’s circle for Moreno, with the vast majority of his wins coming via decision. In the victory over Darchinyan, Moreno began getting more leverage on his punches after the midway point of the bout, and Darchinyan’s willingness to aggressively rush in waned a bit with each passing round.

Saturday night’s opponent is the power-punching David De La Mora of Tijuana, Mexico, a bantamweight with an impressive record of 24-1, with 17 of those victories coming by way of knockout. In his only previous title try, De La Mora traveled to Japan in August 2011 and challenged Koki Kameda for the “regular” WBA 118 lb. title belt. In a tight give-and-take affair, De La Mora lost a close unanimous decision to the champion, a decision that was subsequently protested to the WBA by De La Mora’s management team. He’s not the prototypical Mexican fighter, though — De La Mora employs good head movement and displays above-average boxing skills. The title bout this weekend is being fought in Texas, home to many knowledgeable and avid Mexican and Mexican-American boxing fans. That should pose no concern for Moreno because he’s accustomed to fighting on the road, having won his title in Germany in 2008 via unanimous decision over Volodymyr Sydorenko. Anyone who follows boxing knows how difficult it is to walk out of Germany with a decision victory over a German or European fighter.

Most fans, writers and experts consider Moreno to be a “cutey” or a “runner” with minimal power, but as the Darchinyan fight highlighted, this guy can sit in the pocket, make you miss, then make you pay. And as that fight wore on, Darchinyan demonstrated less and less of an appetite to consume the counter right uppercuts to the ribcage and overhand lefts Moreno began landing with regularity. De La Mora is a short, aggressive fighter who relies on pressure and his impressive power to wear opponents down, but he’s faced few boxer-punchers with Moreno’s overall skill set. The Panamanian did eat a few decent left hands early against Darchinyan, but never deviated from his patient game plan of attacking judiciously and resourcefully, then sliding out of range from the ensuing counter-attacks. Darchinyan simply had no answers over the fight’s second half, while Moreno looked like a fighter who’d fought at this high level his entire career.

Skill inside the prize-fighting ring is measured primarily by the skill level of the opposition. In Moreno’s case, there simply hasn’t been the opportunity to fight guys like Donaire, Mares or Agbeko at 118, possibly due to the fact that he’s based abroad and has fought in such places as Panama, Venezuela, Germany, France and Haiti, but not the U.S. — until the Darchinyan fight. But all of that appears to be changing, as Moreno and his team have suggested that this defense against De La Mora could very well be his final outing as a bantamweight. “I’m ready to fight the best and I’ve shown that in the past. I’m staying at 118 maybe for one more fight and then I’m ready to jump to 122 to fight the biggest names out there,” said Moreno earlier this week. Don’t believe a word of it. With names like Donaire, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Mares now at super bantamweight, expect Moreno to make the four pound ascent in weight much sooner rather than later.

Prediction: Because De La Mora applies a much more educated brand of pressure than Darchinyan does, expect Moreno to be even sharper defensively than he was against The Raging Bull. Because this is his second major showing live in front of U.S. boxing fans, Moreno promises a bit more offense and risk-taking this time around. After viewing footage of De La Mora, I get the impression that despite being a diminutive pressure fighter with good power, he has fairly fast hands, recovers well defensively and is seldom out of position to punch. Kameda shook him several times in Japan, but was never able to assume control of the bout. In fact, De La Mora gave just as good as he got that night. This kid is only 23  and will likely continue to improve. Moreno is 26 with a wealth of championship-level experience. It all adds up to a fairly-competitive fight, though probably not as action-packed as the Showtime audience would like.

If De La Mora can outwork Moreno and steal a few rounds early, he can very well get the Panamanian to open up offensively more than he’s accustomed to. The chances of De La Mora assuming an early lead in this fight are fairly slim, however, as Moreno is constantly pumping his underrated jab and working in subtle uppercuts to the body on the inside. Moreno does many under-appreciated things that go undetected by the untrained eye, which is why many of his fights end in close decision victories. He’s unlikely to stop De La Mora, or even completely dominate him, but the disparity in height, reach and ring savvy weigh heavily in Chemito’s favor.

De La Mora is 24-1 for a reason — he’s a pretty good fighter. And with the recent mass exodus of talent to the 122 lb. class, it’s quite conceivable he can win a major belt within the next 12-18 months. But he’s not winning Moreno’s belt. Moreno is a highly-skilled, thoroughly-seasoned and motivated champion looking to soon make a bigger splash on a bigger stage against more accomplished opposition. That doesn’t mean he will overlook De La Mora this coming weekend — he won’t. In a spirited, competitive and sometimes strategic affair, the fighter with bigger fish to fry will find a way to outclass, outlast and subdue a very game opponent in a performance that would appeal to most boxing purists. Moreno by UD. 

Anselmo Moreno defends his WBA Bantamweight title against Mexico’s David De La Mora in the co-feature to the Eric Morel-Abner Mares battle for the vacant WBC Super Bantamweight title. Tickets are on sale for $25, $50, $75 and $150, and can be purchased at the University of Texas El Paso box office or by calling (915) 747-5234. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.TicketMaster.com. The SHOWTIME telecast starts at 9:30pm EST.

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