Morales out to show he still has it
Did Erik Morales make the right decision by returning to boxing? The litmus test for that comes Saturday (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET), when he faces Marcos Maidana for the interim WBA world light welterweight title.
Morales, one of the most prolific boxers of this generation, is a five-time world champion. He was named 49th greatest boxer of all time by one publication. Number 50? Mike Tyson.
Why then, does he enter this fight as such an underdog? After a string of four losses, including two to Manny Pacquiao, Morales retired in 2007. He returned in March of last year, and has won three fights since his return, but none were against an opponent of Maidana’s caliber.
When the two men are toe to toe at Mandalay Bay this weekend, it will represent an opportunity for Morales to show the world that he is still the “El Terrible” of old.
“This is going to be a very, very good fight,” he said, “a very, very important fight in my career, probably one of the most important fights. I’m trying to do something that no other Mexican fighter has done: win a fourth divisional title and I’m ready. I’m ready for the fight.”
Maidana is a slugger who lost his last fight to rising star Amir Khan, but nearly put Khan down in the 10th round. Morales says his in-your-face style makes him just the type of opponent ripe for defeat.
“He’s a fighter that comes forward. He’s a fighter that throws punches," Morales said. "He’s going to be right in front of me. But let me ask you something? Let me ask you something? Do you think that he’s faster than some of the fighters I faced? Do you think he hits harder than Pacquiao, for instance? Do you think that he’s superior, technique wise, than some of the other fighters? I choose him for a reason and I feel that I can win this fight. I feel that I can win this fight.”
That people are doubting his return to the sport is motivation enough, but being an underdog adds to that along with the title that is on the line. Motivation is something Morales admits he lost before his retirement. Now, the vigor has returned.
“I’m fighting a guy that’s a bigger guy, fights in a higher division, a guy that’s in his prime, one of the top fighters in his division," Morales said. "That has motivated me and it’s given me a goal. The last few fights I had in my career, I kind of lost myself. I had accomplished so much and I kind of lost myself and I didn’t have a goal or any direction, but with this fight, here, I found myself again. I can assure you … that I’m going to win this fight. “
If nothing else, the confidence is certainly back in Erik Morales.