Although he sat on a rubdown table and spoke briefly to reporters in the dressing room after the fight, Moore then collapsed into a coma and died 75 hours later. The autopsy revealed a bruised brain stem.
Since then no local fighter has risen to the heights of Moore, who was selected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame last year and will be enshrined once the COVID pandemic restrictions are lifted.
The only Dayton fighter to meet upper echelon fighters since then has been heavyweight Tom “Ruff House” Fischer, whose 36-11 career in the 1970s and ’80s saw him in the ring with the likes of Leon Spinks, Jimmy Young, Michael Dokes, Quick Tillis, Marvis Frazier and Ron Stander. None of those were world title fights though.
Although the International Boxing Organization is not one of the top four (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO) sanctioning bodies in boxing, its bouts are recognized as world title matches.
And Gongora is recognized as a fighter of merit.
“I know he’s a skillful fighter and a great competitor,” Pearson said in a videotaped interview with Matchingroom Boxing the other day. “I think he’s one of the best guys at 168 pounds. I feel like he’s the most tactical, the most skillful guy other than Canelo Alvarez at 168.”
Alvarez is the WBA and WBC super-middleweight champ and is considered the best pound for pound boxer in the game by Ring Magazine.
“Beating (Gongora) would definitely put me in position where I can write my own check,” Pearson said. “I could call out to other champions because I’d be a champion.”
But Pearson knows that’s a tall order in this fight.
Soon after the fight was made, he admitted to me that he knew he was matched with Gongora because the promoter considered him a “B-side” opponent: “They’re bringing me in to lose.”
He said Gongora’s connections were especially emboldened because he was being added to the card on short notice – just 3 ½ weeks – and even more so because he has not fought in almost two years.
Gongora – a 31-year-old Ecuadorian who fights out of Boston – is a two-time Olympian who won a bronze medal as a light heavyweight at the 2012 London Games. Since then he has gone 19-0 as a pro with 14 knockouts.
His greatest victory came last December at the very same Seminole Hard Rock when – as an 8-to-1 underdog – he knocked out Ali Akhmedov of Kazakhstan in the 12th round of their fight for the vacant IBO super middleweight title.
That landed him a five-fight promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing, the sports event promotion company from England who put on the show.
Saturday’s fight – also promoted by Matchroom – is the first in Gongora’s new deal, but already he and his promotional company are looking beyond Pearson.
A story on the Matchroom website noted how Gongora will start with “a successful defense against Pearson before targeting the big name showdowns.” And Gongora was quoted as saying: “In order to become No. 1 you have to fight the best, so I am waiting for the opportunity to present itself for a fight against Canelo Alvarez.” Although Pearson is 17-2 as a pro, his recent inactivity has come about, he said, because of a COVID cancellation 13 months ago and then some “disagreements” with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, which had signed him to a multi-fight arrangement.
He has a new trainer (Arturo Rangel) and a new promotional company (San Antonio-based Davies Entertainment) for this fight.
It’s the first time in his 10-year pro career that he’s fighting at 168 pounds. His other bouts have been at junior middleweight (154) and middleweight (160).
Milt Pearson, Chris’s dad and a guiding force in his son’s career, was at Thursday’s final prefight press conference in Florida and said his son is ready:
“His body looks good and his mind is in a really good spot right now.”
He said there will be a contingent of some 50 people with Miami Valley ties at the fight, including Chris’s grandmother, Zell Pearson, his two aunts, an uncle, cousins and several friends.
In his videotaped interview the other day, Pearson – who moved to San Antonio last summer to train – still sported his Miami Valley ties.
He wore a sleeveless Dayton Dragons’ jersey.
“I started boxing when I was seven years old,” he said. “So this opportunity at a world title means everything to me. This has been my lifelong goal, my lifelong dream, my lifelong mission.
“The circumstances aren’t perfect, but none the less it’s an opportunity to do what I’m capable of doing and become a world champion.”
Although it was back in May of 2019, he too is coming off his greatest fight. Fighting on short notice then too, he upset previously unbeaten Brazilian Yamaguchi Falcao with a 10-round decision to win the WBC Latino Middleweight title.
“This is kind of a similar situation to that,” Pearson said. “I was able to take Falcao’s WBC regional belt then and I look forward to doing the same thing to Carlos Gongora.
“Becoming a world champion is my only goal at this point.”