By James Slater – Not long to go now before a big fight, that may well turn out to be one of the hardest of recent years to watch, goes ahead. Next Saturday, fans of the great Erik Morales will no doubt be watching the legendary 34-year-old’s challenge of the much younger, the much harder-hitting and the much faster Marcos Maidana with their hands in front of their faces. Some people have expressed genuine concern for the wellbeing of the Mexican hero going into this one. After all, when he announced his retirement following the points loss he suffered at the hands of David Diaz in 2007, Morales complained of headaches..
Now, at a higher weight and with his skills eroded even further, “El Terrible” goes in with arguably the hardest-hitting 140-pounder in the sport. And what “El Chino” had to say yesterday on a telephone press conference made it clear he will not in any way be taking things easy on the man he respects. Far from it: 27-year-old Maidana, 29-2(27) says he plans to come out “all guns blazing” against the man he once looked up to (and probably still does).
“It’s not going to be easy,” Maidana said of the April 9th fight that will contest the interim WBA light-welterweight belt. “But you’ll see the same old Maidana come out, throwing punches with guns blazing. If he can withstand it, great, if not, good night.”
And that’s the key: will Morales, as tough a guy who has ever laced up the gloves, be able to take it? Another good question is, will Morales, 51-6(35) have no option but to stand and fight hard? Morales has said all along he has the style, the technique needed to beat a somewhat crude fighter like Maidana. Maybe we are in for a shock, and the fight will not turn out to be a war of a dogfight, but will instead evolve into a classy boxing match, with the remaining skills of Morales getting the job done.
Morales is absolutely convinced he will win next Saturday.
“People have to remember that I chose the fight with Maidana,” Morales said. “My technique is better than his. There are certain rules in fights – I just hope he follows them.”
What did Morales mean by that last sentence? Is he of the belief that the Argentine he will be swapping leather with is a dirty fighter? Maidana was deducted a point in his last fight, the points loss to Amir Khan, but the stray elbow infringement in the 5th-round was hardly a major foul.
In any case, whether he applies the rough stuff against him or not, Morales says he’s had the fight with Maidana on his mind for quite a while. If you believe Morales, each of the three comeback wins he’s had since coming back was picked carefully, each bout leading towards a shot at Maidana.
“I had a game-plan,” Erik said. “Now I’m going to peak for Maidana. I assure you I will win this fight.”
If Morales does shock us with one last great performance and wins his fourth “world” title on April 9th, where will the win list amongst the biggest upsets of recent years?