By James Slater: We saw a classic changing of the guard last night in Houston, as young tiger Danny Garcia out-fought, out-thought and out-punched aging lion and living legend Erik Morales over 12 at times exciting rounds. And even if the final scores in the favour of the unbeaten 24-year-old known as “Swift” were way too wide (two of the three cards anyway), Garcia deserved his win and he is now on the way to true stardom.
But even as we must congratulate Garcia on becoming the World Boxing Council (WBC) 140-pound champ (and setting himself up for some potentially massive fights with the likes of Amir Khan, Lamont Peterson, Tim Bradley, Zab Judah, etc), most of the attention is being focused on all-time great Morales. Have we seen the Mexican superstar’s final fight?
I think that in light of the way the relative light-hitting Garcia (with just 14 KO’s to his name, Garcia is not known as an out-and-out banger) put Morales down and almost had him out in that 11th-round, it’s clear “El Terrible’s” once formidable capacity for taking punishment is no more. Sure, the 35-year-old master sucked it up and used his savvy to make it through the roughest round he has endured in his career since his third and final fight with Manny Pacquiao, but had he been in with a genuine banger, Morales would likely have been stopped.
Fans worried about Morales’ conditioning heading into the fight when he failed to make weight on the scales. Looking at his body, Erik did look a little flabby. In the early rounds it looked as though the veteran would pound out another win, however, as Garcia looked a little overawed; but Garcia’s speed and timing soon got him into the fight in a big way. Morales, never a hard guy to tag, was eating plenty of leather and even though he was firing back, it was the younger man’s night.
Morales will not want to go out on a loss, but if he does carry on and faces another young warrior; a harder-hitting one especially – he will possibly go out on his back. There has been talk of a summer showdown with fellow aging Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez, but “Dinamita,” even though he is older than “El Terrible,” looks to have retained too many of his skills for Morales to be able to deal with. Marquez’ hands are still fast, Morales’ are not; at least not in anything other than occasional bursts.
If he does bow out now, as surely everyone will agree he should, Morales leaves the sport that made him great and vice-versa with a fine 52-8(36) record.
It will be sad to say goodbye to the man who has given us all so much to cheer about over the years, but it was sad seeing Morales on the deck and in bad shape last night. If he does show stubbornness and decides to fight again, it could get even sadder for Morales’ millions of fans.