Congratulations Erik Morales!! Now Please Retire!

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By Jason Peck: I’m not one of those old-time boxing fans, who watched back in the day when Nixon was president, John Travolta was popular and Muhammad Ali was the only word in sports. I hadn’t even been born yet. My addiction started little more than a decade ago when Erik Morales was already recognized as a living legend, and I’ve never lost my admiration for him..

I knew Morales would win on Saturday – I wasn’t worried about this fight. The Powers That Be had generously bestowed a title he didn’t deserve against a last-minute replacement that looked like he couldn’t shave yet. No, what really worries me is the Next Fight. Having secured a title for the lucrative legend, those same generous Powers That Be will soon match Morales against someone who can seriously hurt him. Sorry, but a legend deserves better.

Opponents of a Morales retirement will argue that Morales would never have made history in four weight divisions had he retired years ago following his brutal loss to Pacquiao.

Maybe I’m a doubter then – a hater, a glass-half-empty coward afraid of trifling things like impossible odds. I argue the opposite.

You can’t blame Morales for taking the opportunity when the WBC offered him a title. But everyone knew the truth, including Morales and the HBO team: He didn’t deserve the title shot.

He cannot be ranked among the best at 140 pounds. A true title fight results from the logical, rightful efforts of a man battling his way through other worthy challengers until he emerges as worthiest of them all. By that criteria, Morales was still nowhere close. No, this was an aberration that shouldn’t have happened. This was cheap politics and dollar signs. This was the sport’s least savory elements triumphant again.

A Morales victory means lucrative fights for the WBC. Better yet, it means unification bouts against men legitimately at the top of the division. To name a few, both Timothy Bradley and Amir Khan are A-list fighters. Lucas Matthysse ended on the wrong end of two bad decisions, but anyone would certainly rank him higher than Morales.

For his part, Morales looked slow and old, immobile and clueless when the action got too heavy in the early going. Punches were wearily thrown, like a man woken from his nap. Saying he was a shadow of his old self is charitable. Credit must be given to Cano in his losing effort (see below). But come on!

Prior to the fight, Cano was rated 12th by the WBC. He rarely beat men with winning records and never fought 12 rounds. He has promise, but Morales’ failure to make short work of Cano places him at the bottom of the elite fighters he almost certainly will fight.

Amir Khan talked about a future unification bout with Morales. I haven’t heard any protest from the Morales camp. That means it will probably happen, and it shouldn’t.

Time to call it a day. It sounds like I’ve been hard on Morales. I criticize the old, tired and washed-up Morales who is openly manipulated by boxing’s foul overseers. I must call attention to the prime Morales who legitimately, decisively won his first three titles, fought the world’s best without excuse and rightfully spent much of his career in the pound-for-pound rankings.

What does he have to prove?

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Two thoughts in closing.

First, Morales is the SECOND Mexican fighter to win titles in four weight divisions. It baffles me that people have already forgotten Jorge Arce’s landmark accomplishment in May.

Arce won titles at 108, 112, 115 and 122. That’s four. Count ‘em on Boxrec.

Secondly, congratulations to Cano. I cannot imagine how intimidating it must have been to fight a national hero you undoubtedly grew up idolizing, especially as that legend’s late replacement. It becomes all the more impressive when you consider Cano’s lackluster resume going into the Morales fight. He was set up to lose and have his ass-kicking broadcast to all six continents.

Cano nevertheless gave it his all, put Morales in serious trouble and undoubtedly would have gone much further except for that horrible cut. Experience won the day for Morales. Hopefully, Cano’s handlers will recognize this young man’s potential, and put him back in the title scene after some fine-tuning.