Later today from the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NYC, RING Magazine WBC/WBA Light Welterweight Champion Danny Garcia faces Mexican legend and future hall of famer Erik Morales.
Tonight's headliner featuring Danny Garcia and Erik Morales will be a rematch of the first bout which took place in March with Garcia winning a unanimous decision.
Will Morales vs Garcia 2 be any different than their first bout?
Morales vs Garcia I Facts
- Age Gap? At 35, Erik Morales was 12 years older than the Puerto Rican challenger
- Ranking: Erik Morales entered as RING's No. 5 light welterweight while Danny Garcia was ranked No. 7 by the same publication.
- Odds: Morales was a 2.8 to 1 betting underdog
- Controversy: WBC light welterweight champion Erik Morales came in two pounds over the contracted limit and was subsequently stripped by the WBC of his title. As a result, the now-vacant title was only at stake for Garcia.
- Purse: Morales earned a $1 Million USD while Garcia pocketed $175,000 USD. This increased to $225,000 following the ($50,000) fines levied against Morales for showing up overweight.
- Conditioning: Erik Morales looked to be carrying a spare tire, albeit a tiny one, around his midsection
PunchStats: Garcia out-threw Morales 779-547, outlanded Morales 238-164 and landed twice as many powershots, 170-71. Morales connected on more jabs, 93-68 and both men landed 30-31% of their overall punches.
In the opening rounds, it was the older man, Erik Morales (52-7, 36 KOs), who established himself first by utilizing a sweet, stiff jab. The Mexican applied pressure and unleashed three and four punch combos on his Puerto Rican foe over the first 4 rounds. Already showing the wear, Danny Garcia (22-0, 14 KO) sported a mouse under his right eye but was very much unphased by Morales' early assault. Utilizing superior speed, Garcia ripped "El Terrible" with hooks to the body in the early going.
Giving as much as he was receiving (if not more), Erik Morales appeared to tire a bit in Round 6, seemingly wanting to employ some rope-a-dope. And when Garcia attacked, the cunning Mexican found success by sneaking in his right uppercut on the inside followed by hooks and right-hands in Garcia's face. But Garcia, not to be outdone, landed some hard rights of his own in response.
After six rounds, Garcia vs Morales was an even fight and one could even argue Morales held a slight advantage in rounds won, 3-2-1.
But entering Round 7, Erik Morales appeared quite a bit more fatigued than he was in the previous stanza and Danny Garcia started to seize control. The Puerto Rican jolted Morales, who grinned in acknowledgement, with a left hook amid a heavy exchange at the end of the round.
Now it was Danny Garcia's turn. He turned it up a notch and started unleashing powershots at greater frequency. While the Mexican used the ropes to gain a bit of a respite, Garcia attempted to seize initiative and land killer strikes on a seemingly weakened opponent... But the legend wasn't finished yet.
It was a trap and Garcia fell for it... hook, line and sinker.
With his timing still intact, Erik Morales scored with beautiful left hook and uppercuts while Garcia kept pursuing and landing some bruising shots of his own. While Garcia was looking to land home run shots, Erik Morales was able to set up lefts and rights off his potent left jab.
Despite Morales' scoring efforts, the bout was shifting Garcia's way. The younger man appeared stronger, was busier and was starting to become more effective.
Behind on at least two of the judges cards after Round 9, a round in which Garcia left a thudding imprint by landing power-shots, Morales sensed he needed to do something big. After a relatively close 10th Round, Morales momentarily appeared to rally at the start of the eleventh as the two men exchanged toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring. But now, as a result of opening up, a slowed Morales was exposed.
After "El Terrible" unleashed an uppercut, Danny Garcia, who was bleeding heavily from his nose, punished the Mexican with a short, nasty left hook that floored the future hall of famer.
A stoppage seemed imminent but, as most of us know, Erik Morales is a blood n' guts warrior. He slowly reached his feet at 8 and was allowed to continue. Erik Morales, now passive, would somehow manage to survive the rest of the 11th Round and the 12th en route to losing a unanimous decision.
Team Morales had begged their badly hurt fighter to go for the knockout in the 12th but the 35 year old, already a bit faded prior to the knockdown, had nothing left after tasting the canvas midway thru the eleventh.
After twelve hard fought rounds, all three judges had it for Garcia 117-110, 116-112 and 118-109. FightSaga scored it 116-112 Garcia.
After the bout, Erik Morales contemplated retirement:
"I don't know what I want to do next. I have to sit down with my family and look at my health and the desire to keep fighting. One of the reasons I fought Garcia was that I was sure that I still have what it takes to beat some of the best competition out there. After tonight I need to take a step back and really look at what I want to do next. I would like to go out on my own terms, perhaps a fight in Tijuana, Mexico. He did a good job early on, but this is a 12 round fight. I knew that around the sixth or seventh round, my work rate would increase and after the eighth or ninth, I would increase it even more. It's good to have a good first or second round, but what's important here is to know how to finish, not just how to start."
Was Morales vs Garcia I close?
Yes and no.
Earlier this week, Angel Garcia, father and trainer of the lineal light welterweight champion, railed Erik Morales for insisting the first bout was close. Was it?
It was certainly closer, or at least more competitive, than the official scores indicate. And keep in mind, Garcia was awarded a 10-8 round.
But as far as its "closeness," it wasn't Hagler vs Leonard or Khan vs Peterson because Danny pulled away in the second half of the bout. Morales, who was arguably slightly ahead on some "unofficial" scorecards until Round 7 or 8, lost at least 3 of the final 4 stanzas and the knockdown certainly didn't help matters. Nevertheless, he was a 'live dog' in the fight until he was rocked in the eleventh.
Has his victory over Amir Khan, a few months later, given the Puerto Rican a false sense of security or is he more self-assured?
We'll find out later tonight....