Merhav Mohar never lost a match until a Latvian at the Sheraton Plaza in Israel took away his winning streak. KO'ed in the first round, the 21-year-old Israeli boxer said, "It was the best knockout ever seen in the Holy Land."
In America for the first time through Golden Boy Promotions -- Oscar De La Hoya's company -- Mohar is confident that at the March 25 nationally televised event, he'll come out the victor.
The Israeli-born boxer always knew he would take the athletic route.
Starting in karate and then moving on to Muay-Thai (kickboxing), Mohar beat out the competition and wanted to compete in a more visible sport. Fans and contenders nicknamed him "Chaos" for his constant energy in the ring -- making it difficult for his opponents to anticipate his moves. After being raised in Kenya and then moving to Israel, Mohar experienced a rough adjustment -- learning a new language, attending a new school and making new friends.
Well-adjusted now, the junior middleweight has no second thoughts about living in Israel, convinced it's where he belongs. A descendent of generations of Israeli pioneer fighters, Mohar proudly serves in the Israel Defense Forces (he has a line of "Hatikva" tattooed on his right arm), and commands a team of soldiers in security and intelligence. With five months left of his service, it has been tough juggling both his boxing career and his military life, but the army understands the demands of the sport.
His parents never thought he would opt for a career in the ring.
"My mom is a Jewish mom, she'd obviously like me to be a doctor," he said with a chuckle.
Interestingly enough, Mohar disappointed his father by not choosing a combat route in the army. Though his mother has never seen him fight, she makes him apologize to his defeated opponents.
"If I knockout someone," he said, "she says, 'OK, now go over and say you're sorry.'"
As an Israeli fighting in an American ring, Mohar hopes to be an ambassador of peace, and show Americans that Israel is more than the war zone they see on TV. Will he make a living out of boxing? He boxes for the love of the sport and for himself first, but if this premier fight jump-starts a career, "Why the hell not?" he said.
The fight will be held March 25 at Grand Olympic Auditorium at 7 p.m. and will be televised live on HBO Latino. For tickets, call (213) 480-3232.