But when the cards were tallied up after the grueling four-round light middleweight contest at the Westchester County Center, the Arklow native was a deserved unanimous points winner over the beefy Brooklynite to up his professional record to 2-0 (1 KO).
There were no knockdowns and all three judges, Oscar Perez, Louis Rivera and Bob Gilson scored it 39-37, or three rounds to one, for Moore.
“It was a learning curve. I was trying too hard for the knockout and neglected my boxing skills,” said Moore after what could turn out to be the hardest fight of his rookie year.
“I should have been picking my shots. It’s not a good win. I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll take a bad win over a good loss any day,” he added.
Ireland’s 2001 world amateur championship bronze medalist might have been a trifle tough on himself. Jones, 27 like himself, was no slouch and came in the ring undefeated — albeit his only pro fight had been changed to a non-contest for a drug violation – and with over 225 amateur bouts under his belt.
Although he never had Moore in danger at any time, the American, switching from orthodox to southpaw stances throughout the bout, was resilient and showed keen survival instincts.
Jones was hurt on several occasions by shots to the body but survived by grappling with Moore.
“I was tired,” he admitted later. “I lost seven pounds in 24 hours to make weight. I thought I could pull it off but [Moore] kept coming.”
Indeed, from the first round when Moore opened up landing good left jabs, the Irishman never let up the pressure, even when Jones was trying to wrestle him. He punctuated his dominance in the first stanza by connecting with a solid right that clearly dazed Jones midway through the round but was forced to go into the trenches in the second heat.
The third round was a big one for Moore who pounded away at his man, stunning him again after spinning away from a clinch on the ropes and connecting with a right hand to the jaw. Jones held on.
Moore had another strong round in the fourth, during which he had Jones going on several occasions. However, Jones survived the assault.
Despite his mild disappointment at not dispatching his opponent, Moore, who made his debut with a second round KO of Gabriel Garcia on Aug. 5 and predicted that Jones would be tougher than the Ecuadorian, was content at chalking up his second pro victory.
“I feel good that I’ve got win number two. I’ll take a couple of days off and start preparing for Boston,” he remarked, alluding to the Sept. 17 “Mayhem in Mansfield” card in Massachusetts on which he’s scheduled to appear.
“He controlled all aspects of the fight [and] was never in any trouble,” said trainer Harry Keitt. “Four-round fights don’t do [Moore] any justice because he’s a pressure fighter who comes on strong as the fight progresses.”
“Tough fight, good win,” quipped Irish Ropes boss Eddie McLoughlin. “I’ll give him a ‘B’ minus. He was trying too hard. But a win is a win.”
Said John Duddy, Moore’s Irish Ropes stablemate: “It was a very awkward fight and the guy [Jones] tried to make it as awkward as possible. But James stuck to his game plan.”
Jim Moore, James’s 59 year-old father and coach of the Irish junior national team, flew in from Arklow for the fight and gave his son two thumbs up for his performance.
“Very good. The other guy was very experienced,” remarked Moore Sr., who trained the boxer from age seven until his last amateur contest last November.
He’ll be vacationing in Bulgaria with his wife Mary when he turns 60 on Sept. 18. He’ll be expecting a special birthday present from the only one of his three sons still active in the ring when James fights again in Mansfield, Mass., the day before.
Clancy wins at Sheraton
Boston cruiserweight Mark Clancy outclassed Mike Needling in a four-rounder at the Sheraton Resort in Hyannis Port, Mass., last Thursday to improve to 4-0-1 (win, loss, draw).
“I could have stopped him in the second round, but I wanted to box and get some rounds in,” said the County Clare product.
He wobbled Needling, an 0-6 journeyman out of Philadelphia, with a left uppercut and right hand to the chin midway through the round and continued to connect at will after that.
“I felt strong,” Clancy, who’s 29, said.
Coming off a points decision over Duane White in Foxwoods on August 5, Mark has been the more active of the Clancy brothers.
However, older brother James, a 31 year-old heavyweight who’s been trying to drop down to cruiserweight, may appear on the Mansfield card on September 17.
James last fought in April when he beat Joseph Kenneth on points in Boston.