Erik Morales – The Hall Of Fame Awaits

erik morales 08.08.07 – By Matthew Hurley: With all apologies forwarded to David Diaz, as his tenacity is truly inspiring, the night of August 4th as he charged forward like a bull against his nemesis, my heart was with Erik Morales. As a writer who has never affiliated himself with any promoter or network I will admit, and write unapologetically, that when a fighter captures my heart I will be there with him for the long haul.

I, along with most fans and media scribes didn’t know how much “El Terrible” had left. Having said that, we all assumed it wasn’t much. He’s been through too much through a punishing career and looked like a spent bullet in his brutal knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao in their third fight. I just crossed my fingers and hoped I wouldn’t be witness to a Joe Louis – Rocky Marciano moment that so many of my elders lament.

I wasn’t.

Erik Morales fought his heart out, and on my card scored a draw in a fight you would be hard pressed to find anyone picking him to win going into the bout. His technical superiority kept him in the fight against a stronger foe. That ability to measure his opponent and strike back when hurt put Diaz on notice in the very first round when Diaz stunned him and lunged after him only to discover what everyone who has ever fought Erik has discovered – he’s most dangerous when hurt. Morales fell back against the ropes, bounced forward and struck back with a perfect right cross putting Diaz on the seat of his pants. It was then we all knew were in for yet another Erik Morales thrill-a-minute treat.

As the fight wore on Erik’s experience and fighting spirit kept his rubbery legs beneath him as the relentless aggression of Diaz began to sap his strength. Those final rounds, where the fatigue of a fighter aged beyond his years was being played out before us in all it’s agonizing longevity, proved that sometimes spirit and determination can carry a man to places no one thought he could go. And most “experts” didn’t think Erik would make it to the final bell.

Erik Morales had been in those tumultuous situations a dozen times too many but against Diaz, about mid-fight, for once he didn’t care about the belt anymore. Even though he wanted that fourth title with all his heart he cared more about proving his critics wrong and being able to face his beloved fans with fist pumping pride. After all, as much as Erik loves to win he loves the label of being a true warrior even more. The idolatry of his fans means everything. He was going to finish this grueling, thrilling fight on his feet regardless of the fact that he couldn’t keep the spirited Diaz off him. So he used every trick in the book during the second half of the bout and threw in some vintage “El Terrible” onslaughts to keep Diaz honest. When the bell rang to end the fight, he sagged against the ropes. He had nothing left to give. He had nothing left to give us.

The fighter had already made up his mind. Before the decision was even announced he nodded to his father. He sucked on a bottle of water and accepted congratulations. The championship was still in the balance and the fight was very close but it didn’t matter to him any more. He knew he was done. There was nothing left to prove. And when the scorecards read closely for Diaz the old fighter nodded and gave his congratulations and walked away with class and dignity.

Erik Morales will easily be voted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame five years from now on the first ballot. His pride and his love for his fans and the sport of boxing will ensure that he will be at Canastota for his induction and I, along with all of his fans, will be there to applaud a career that was truly remarkable.

Article posted on 09.08.2007

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