Boxing


Erik Morales-Everything a Fan Could Want

27.08.05 - By John Way: It's a testament to Morales' ability that he is considered to be one of the three best fighters in the world, despite the fact that he lacks an alphabet title. He doesn't need one, because "El Terrible" isn't about the political side of the sport. Now, with the boxing world at his feet after his twelve round clinic over superstar Manny Pacquiao, he is the total package, becoming a byword for courage by facing the best in the business, managing to beat every man placed before him. Simply put, when a fighter only loses to men named Marco Antonio Barrera, (as is the case here) you can be sure he's great.

Beginning his career in March of 1993, Erik started his career with twenty-six straight wins before picking up his first world title, at junior featherweight. While this feat isn't necessarily amazing at first glance, consider that those first twenty-six men had a combined total of 377 wins. Try to find another fighter these days that can boast such a thing.don't hold your breath! His eleven round title winning effort came against all time great Daniel "The Mouse" Zaragoza in a forgotten classic of masterful boxing, featuring genius ring generalship, with plenty of bruising blows.. Over the next several years, Morales ripped through the 122lbs division with ferocity reminiscent of Wilfredo Gomez' reign of terror during the early eighties. Rather than taking on a pushover in his first defense-as is the modern custom-he battled top contender John Lowey for seven rounds before scoring another knockout. Soon after, names like Regelio Molina and Jose Luis Bueno were added to his growing resume. It was only the beginning.

After three successful title defenses, Morales was lined up with former two division champion Junior Jones. "Poison" was coming off the most impressive streak of his career, with wins over Orlando Canizales and Marco Antonio Barrera. This time, Jones was dominated by "El Terrible" before capitulating in the fourth round. With this sensational performance, Morales was vaulted into the pound for pound picture, where he has resided comfortably since then.

Riding high from his win over Jones, Morales opted to take a pair of "easy" fights, knocking out superb contenders Juan Carlos Ramirez and Reyante Jamili. His streak of stoppages came to a halt when Erik battled Belfast's pocket rocket, Wayne McCullough. Considered by an increasing number of fans to be the toughest man to ever lace 'em up, Wayne took Morales' thunder on the chin for twelve rounds, and fired back with his own arsenal to make for an entertaining scuffle.

Then came that fabled first war with arch-nemesis, Marco Antonio Barrera. Considered by many (this writer included) to be one of the five best fights ever, these two professors of the sweet science let it all hang out for twelve grueling, bruising rounds. As with all great fights, this junior featherweight showdown was rife with controversy as many pundits believed Erik was fortunate to hold on to his title by split decision. Who cares? As the task of making weight grew increasingly arduous for everyone's favorite human beanpole, Morales wisely opted to hop up to featherweight, where things were getting hot with players like Manuel Medina, Naseem Hamed, and Juan Manuel Marquez. The calculated risk proved wise, as Erik made a splash into the rankings with a win over pugilistic legend Kevin Kelley (KO7), followed by an opening round blowout over accomplished Rodney Jones.

Every fighter hits a dry spell at some point in their career, and Morales hit his after the move to 126lbs. He looked totally human against In Jin Chi and Guty Espadas before taking a year off, and losing a wafer-thin verdict to Barrera in the rematch. Bent on jumping right back into contention, Morales handed classy Texan (there is such a thing!) Paulie Ayala the thumping of a lifetime. Using his laser guided uppercut coupled with a counter right hand straight out of a horror movie, Erik dominated enough of the twelve rounds to win back his WBC title. Not far removed from twin wins over Johnny Tapia and Clarence "Bones" Adams, Ayala was regarded as one of the best fighters alive at the time, and is a probable candidate for the Hall of Fame someday.

Riding high from his pounding over Ayala, he bided his time for most of 2003, before rematching pesky Guty Espadas in his first fight at junior lightweight. Three rounds was all the time Morales needed to dispatch the troublesome Esapadas, finishing the bout with a sensational one punch ending. 2004 was a bittersweet year for Tijuana's finest, as Erik started off in fine fashion, winning two 130lbs titles against countryman Jesus Chavez and El Salvadorian fire plug, Carlos Alberto Hernandez. By beating Chavez, Morales joined a different Chavez-the Julio Cesar version-as the only Mexicans to win world titles in three divisions. In an effort to cap one of the best years of his career, Erik signed to meet his nemesis Barrera a third and final (?) time. In the fight of his life, Marco started fast, carrying enough of the early rounds to win a sensational war, dubbed the best fight of 2004 by Ring Magazine. Instead of having a few interim, confidence building fights to regroup from his disappointing loss, Morales sought to immediately leap back into contention by facing Manny Pacquiao. As every boxing fan knows, Pac-Man had previously thrashed Erik's bogeyman, Barrera in 2003, making the Philippines-based phenom a solid betting favorite.

Opting to use his much-vaunted boxing skills, "El Terrible" esqued the brawling tactics which had landed him in the middle of so many pitched battles, and the switch paid off! By ratcheting his best win in several years, "El Terrible" is considered one of the five best fighters on the planet. After four consecutive distance fights, each one a grueling affair, Erik is poised on the brink of an early winter showdown with Pacquiao, assuming he can get passed Zahir Raheem on September 9th.

Simply put, if Morales knocks out Raheem, and beats Manny in the rematch, he's fighter of the year; Floyd Mayweather would have to stopped Zab Judah to top the streaking Mexican's accomplishments. One thing's for sure, Win, Lose, or Draw, Morales always brings everything to the table.

Comments are welcome below.

Article posted on 27.08.2005



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