Viva Morales!

01.03.04 – By Matthew Hurley: Once again Erik Morales, arguably the most under appreciated great fighter of the last ten years, provided fight fans with all they could possibly ask for. From the moment he engaged the brave Jesus Chavez for the WBC Junior Lightweight title the sparks flew and the dramatic give and take action had all the hallmarks of yet another Morales classic. But the question that now must be asked is, how many more of these wars does Erik have left in his twenty-seven year old body? A fighter, even a great one, can only give so much and “El Terrible” has paid a heavy price in claiming three championships in three different weight divisions.

Oddly, Morales’ greatest gift to boxing fans may be his greatest flaw as a fighter. His willingness to brawl negates his extensive boxing skills. After getting severely rocked in the opening round against Chavez, Morales, who had moved up in weight, immediately found himself trapped in yet another vicious war. The second he got hurt technique went out the window and Erik simply fired back. His genius surfaced in round two when he timed Chavez perfectly and launched a blistering right uppercut that decked the champion. The uppercut would remain his dominant weapon for the rest of the fight. But instead of using his superior jab and quick footwork, Morales made what could have become an easy fight into a struggle. He allowed an obviously impaired Chavez to wail away on his rib cage with thudding left hooks. Chavez had apparently hurt his right shoulder in the second or third round and his right cross became all but useless until the final round when he let it go in desperation.

Yet Erik’s willingness to go to battle is what makes him so compelling a fighter. It’s also what fuels the constant criticism and second guessing in regard to his greatness from boxing writers and broadcasters like Larry Merchant. Merchant seemed to scoff at Erik’s chances against Joel Casamayor and Diego Corrales as the fight wore on. And yet despite it all Morales keeps on winning, and he wins in thrilling fashion. That’s what makes Morales a great fighter and it’s why his fans revere him. It’s also why he’s now a lock for the International Boxing Hall Of Fame. Make no mistake, anything Erik accomplishes from here on out only enhances his Hall Of Fame credentials.

But again, the question remains, just how much does he have left? This corner says, without hesitation, that Erik would destroy the murderous punching, but weak chinned Diego Corrales. Casamayor present a different, compelling challenge in a more pure boxing sense. However, it’s a match-up in which I believe Morales would finally reveal his expert boxing skills and win a close, tactical fight. But if he gets hit, and hit hard, all bets are off and the warrior in Morales will override those boxing skills he neglects all too often.

Regardless, each and every fight he’s involved in until he hangs up the gloves will be dangerous and, knowing Erik, each and every fight will be a barn burner. So enjoy this great fighter while you can because warriors like Erik “El Terrible” Morales are few and far between, and as we saw recently with the vicious defeat of his arch nemesis Marco Antonio Barrera at the hands of Manny Pacquiao, they can grow old and fall apart overnight.



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