Call Em Out Fridays: Vernon Forrest - Is The 'Viper' Snake-Bitten?

By Vivek Wallace, photo by Naoki Fukuda: This weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment deals with one of the sports most enigmatic figures. In the eyes of many fight fans, categorically, Vernon Forrest remains in that proverbial hit-or-miss echelon. Few have ever totally understood how a man can rise to greatness by defeating a future hall-of-famer one night, then lose to a far less than talented smoke puffing loud mouth on the other. That type of swing in the pendulum leaves room for many questions. Unfortunately, at times it can appear like the ones that are never completely answered. So in an effort to understand this talent-with-questions, today we dig into topic like any other weekly 'Call Out' session, and do what we always do....Analyze the 'fan supportive' perspective, analyze the 'critics perspective', and after I throw my thoughts in the hat, we let you, the reader proceed in wearing it out!

forrestVernon Forrest - (Fan Supportive Perspective): Vernon Forrest has been one of the perennial light middleweights within the last decade of the sport. Having a solid amateur background in which he tallied 225 victories in 240 fights, there really isn't much that the 'Viper' hasn't seen or done in the ring. Those accomplishments in his amateur days included a trip to the '92 Olympics, which wouldn't end too well after a bout with food poisoning that struck a day before he saw action. As a professional, Forrest continued to show all the great signs - speed, power, strength, and sheer ability. He would compile a solid record of 31-0 on his rise to the top before running into what was easily the most talented name on his resume to date. That person was none other than 'Sugar' Shane Mosley. Coming into the fight many wondered whether or not Forrest would be able to adapt to a fighter who was this well rounded. After 12 rounds of a very lop-sided affair, there were no doubts among any one relative to the fight - aside from the opponent who found himself asking what happened when it was all said and done? This was the same man that soundly defeated Oscar De La Hoya, among countless others. This was the man talented enough to bare and carry the name 'Sugar'. And in the end, this was also the man who learned a venomous snake bit was more sour than sweet. To demonstrate that he was no fluke, Forrest would take an immediate rematch, staged only 6 months later, and produce very similar results. With such a win under his belt, most thought the road ahead would be all sun and sands. Unfortunately, as most of us have learned, life tends to write a different script......

Vernon Forrest - (Critics Perspective): For every great thing fans have to say about Forrest, in the eyes of the critics, there's always another parallel to follow. As age begins to set in, (37), bodily wear and tear is perhaps the biggest culprit for the at times lackluster appearance of a fighter previously known to have more upside than downside. Following the victories over Mosley, Forrest would find one of his most trying times - as thy relate to the ring. In a very ominous moment, few may remember the words of his next opponent who had long marveled a chance at something big, as he stated days before the showdown that it was simply time to "clip his [Forrest] wings and bring him down to earth"; And that he did. Nicaraguan mad-man, Ricardo Mayorga was believed to have very little chance, as was Forrest against Mosley. Also similar was the results, as in the end Mayorga would make short work of Forrest. Rumors of certain injuries and camp qualms for Forrest ran rapid, but the rematch was more of the same. After being knocked out in the 3rd round, and subsequently losing a decision, the veil of invincibility around Forrest had suddenly faded. He would slowly work his way back into contention, but apparently it took one 'snake' to know another, as the somewhat previously unknown 'Latin Snake' (Sergio Mora), knew exactly what formula was needed to breakdown the 'Viper'. Mayorga used power to keep Forrest at bey in their fights, but for the first time, Forrest was soundly outboxed which said a lot. Did he overlook his opponent?, or simply take him lightly? No one knows, but what many critics feel they do know now is that Forrests' better days could very well be behind him.

Vernon Forrest - (This Writers Perspective): Personally, I've always liked Vernon's talent, and think that the truth about him lies somewhere deeply entrenched between the fans perspective and the critics perspective. I think he's far more talented than the average, and while some can argue that his better days are behind him, I think it's a bit premature to say he doesn't still have some good ones ahead. Oscar De La Hoya is the light middleweight name on the tongue of most fans, but even at this age, I think Forrest has the goods to compete with, if not soundly defeat him as well. Any true fans of the sport know that styles make fights, and Mayorga apparently had a style that Forrest never could figure out. The herky-jerky style of Mora won't be any easier, and tomorrow night, we'll see if Forrest made the necessary adjustments to overcome those odds. Win, lose, or draw, I don't think the end is near if the passion still burns within Forrest. A passionate Forrest can run with some of the best in the sport. If there's any question that I do have, it's whether or not that passion does actually still burn. If it shines, so will he. If it's dim, his days are slim. The time is now upon us....So what's it gonna be Forrest?

(Follow more boxing talk from ESB's Vivek Wallace at, contact him at and 954-292-7346, or show him some love at

Article posted on 13.09.2008

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