Erik Morales: Remember His TenacityWritten by Dion Hall
On Saturday, October 20, 2012, the world witnessed a legend's last fight on the big stage.
A week ago, Erik "El Terrible" Morales (52-9) of Tijuana challenged WBC, WBA, and RING Magazine champion Danny "Swift" Garcia (25-0) in a rematch following their first memorable slugfest in March 24, 2012.
The fight ended with Garcia landing a gargantuan left hook, knocking out the 36 year old warrior in the 4th round.
Shortly after the fight, Morales announced that it would be his last fight in the United States. Its believed Erik will have one more 'Farewell' bout in his native Mexico against a lesser opponent.
The Mexican fighter known as "El Terrible" is a battle-tested warrior who has headlined some of the biggest fights in boxing over the last fifteen years. "
A former four division title winner, Erik Morales will be remembered most for his epic trilogies with Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2) and Marco Antonio Barrera (67-7).
In 2000, "El Terrible" fought the first of three epic battles against future hall-of-fame great Marco Antonio Barrera. The bout was contested for the WBC and WBO super bantamweight titles and was an epic back-and-forth barn-burner from start to finish. In the end, Erik Morales won a tight, hard-fought split decision in what would be The RING's Fight of the Year.
Erik Morales would defend the green belt nine times before moving up in weight to win the WBC featherweight strap... And Morales and Barrera would meet again. But this time, in June 2002, Morales would suffer his first defeat in 42 bouts as fellow Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera evened the score, winning a close, controversial decision and El Terrible's WBC title.
In 2004, Morales defeated Jesús Chávez and collected yet another world title, this time at featherweight. And of course, the stage was set for one more legendary bout with Morales' nemesis, Marco Antonio Barrera.
Their rubber match, which took place in November 2004, was reminiscent of their first fight and Morales vs Barrera would win Fight of the Year once more.
In an in-your-face, gave-and-take masterpiece, Morales would taste defeat for the second time against the "Baby-Faced Assassin" who squeaked by with a razor thin victory. Two judges scored it 114–115 and 113–115 in favor of Barrera while the third judge had the bout even. Yet again, El Terrible found himself on the wrong end of another close decision in a bout that could have conceivably gone either way.
But as the chapter for one unforgettable trilogy closed, another opened.
On March 19, 2005 Morales, having already won world titles at 122, 126 and 130 pounds, delivered arguably the best performance of his career by defeating a young, ferocious slugger named Manny Pacquiao in a bout that's generally regarded as an "action-packed classic."
Moralas dictated the pace and range of the fight, even turning southpaw in the closing round. He went on to win the fight by unanimous decision.
Although the win over Pacquiao would be Morales' last over an elite opponent, it was far from his final epic performance.
After defeating PacMan, Erik suffered four consecutive losses. He was picked apart for twelve rounds by Zahir Raheem in September 2005 and knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in Round 10 of their rematch on January 21, 2006. And later that year, Pacquiao punctuated his efforts, forcing Morales to succumb in three.
Following the two epic trilogies with Barrera and Pacquiao, his defeat to Raheem and his close but unanimous decision loss to David Diaz in 2007, Morales was viewed by many as a shopwarn, past-his-prime fighter who could no longer compete on the elite level.
Following the Diaz loss, Morales retired for 2 1/2 years before returning in 2010. He won three tune-up fights that year before facing the hard hitting Marcos Maidana, one of the biggest 140 lb punchers in recent memory.
The bout, Maidana vs Morales, took place on April 9, 2011, about five years after his last fight with Pacquiao. During the bout, Morales appeared to be in danger early when he took a punch from Maidana that swelled and eventually closed one of his eyes.
However, on this night the 34 year old warrior turned back the clock to give a gutsy performance in a tremendous back and forth, action-packed bout with hard punches landed throughout.
Maidana won that fight via a split decision but Morales won the fans... Showing, once again, that he could still compete on the world class level.
Morales' efforts, even in defeat, enabled him the opportunity to fight for the vacant WBC Jr Welterweight title vacated by Tim Bradley. The tough Mexican took on fellow countryman Pablo Cesar Cano for the WBC light welterweight title vacated by Tim Bradley. Morales easily won that fight, stopping Cano in the tenth. With the win, Morales became the first Mexican fighter to win 4 major world titles in four different weight divisions.
And with the momentum from that win and a world title belt around his waste, Morales continued onward. He dropped a unanimous decision in a competitive bout to Danny Garcia in March before being knocked out viciously in four rounds in their rematch last Saturday.
It was likely his final bout on the big stage.
Fans should remember Morales as a relentless, highly skilled warrior who always came to fight. His legacy is cemented and he'll likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Remember his tenacity... Remember his heart in the ring.... Remember the epic fights.... And remember the fighter.