01.08.04 – By Wray Edwards: Last night’s Vegas contest between Mexican Erik Morales, and El Salvadoran Carlos Hernandez was opened, and presented, as not only a boxing match, but an event at which two national heroes brought the honor and pride of their homelands before the world. Both countries national anthems were sung, and a lot of flag-waving took place. There were some interesting parallels and differences between these two diligent men.
In parallel, they were both from our Latin neighbors to the south. Both have roots there, but also reside and train in the Southwestern U.S., and possessed World titles. Their differences were appropriate to their origins, in that Morales, the taller of the two, is from the larger country Mexico, while Hernandez represented Mexico’s little brother to the south. I have traveled extensively in both nations, and found that last night’s boxing ambassadors were very representative of their heritages.
The classical boxer Morales, brought the exalted skills one might expect coming from the larger, and more cosmopolitan nation. Hernandez, on the other hand, represented the much smaller, and until recently, more violent society. It was then, no surprise that Hernandez’ style was of the street, showing courage, determination and resilience by roughing it up inside. When you are from a place in which death squads, revolution, and bullet riddled cars are seen along the road from the airport to the Capital, your view of life will most probably center on survival.
Morales’ meteoric rise to boxing championship through technique and skill was pitted against the patient, long-term struggle of Hernandez to achieve a crown for himself and his people. The fight was a microcosm of those very attributes, with Hernandez the brawler having to pay a heavy price to get past Morales’ reach advantage, to bring his brand of mayhem to Erik’s front yard. The majority of the fight saw Carlos moving doggedly forward through Erik’s minefield, as he has throughout his ten-year boxing career, often arriving at Erik’s front door a bit messed up.
Once inside Morales fistic fences, Hernandez was at times, able to unleash bunches of punches, and an occasional head butt, which eventually cut both of Erik’s eyes to a minor degree. Unfortunately for Hernandez, once he got inside, or was close enough to strike, he did not always let his hands go, as his corner was begging him to do. Morales was not so shy, and cut loose at every opportunity when the fighters were at HIS favorite distance. In fact, since Carlos was often inactive, when he felt like snuggling, Erik seemed to welcome these little siestas to rest up for the break, and then to return to his classical, long-range sharp-shooting.
Neither boxer seemed to have the ability to deliver the necessary power for a KO, therefore the fight went the distance. Neither fighter was ever in real trouble though Hernandez came close to touching a glove; it was 50/50 off balance, and a medium power stroke from Erik which caused the stagger. Because of the style differentials, the fight was not a candidate for FOTY, but it did have enough action, combined with the patriotic fervor of the fans in attendance, to make for some good entertainment. Both fighters earned respect and gratitude for their performances.
As is often the case, there has to be a loser. Last night, it was Carlos Hernandez. He was unable to satisfy his tiny country’s desire for a “victory” over their big brother to the north. Carlos was obviously disappointed during the post-fight interview. The only positive note for him there, was speculation that Erik would move up in weight, and leave the S Feather WD for Hernandez to try to recapture. Hernandez speculated he might follow Morales up in weight. That would be a mistake.
But there was a winner, and it was Erik Hernandez, who once again demonstrated that he is a serious champion in the SFWD and contender for Jr. LWD and above should he decide to move up. He has so many exciting and delicious fights which are possible, that one hardly knows where to start. Pacman, Frietas, Casamayor, Diego, Marquez, and others are all there to be had, not to mention that the relatively young Morales can move up two, or even three more times as his taller frame might allow. He is, obviously, a classy guy, and will hopefully be paired with other boxers who match him in style. Every time that happens, we are in for a treat.