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DANNY GARCIA'S READY TO TAKE DOWN LEGENDARY ERIK MORALES
In Saturday night's HBO-televised main event from The Reliant Center in Houston, Texas, THE RING's No. 5-rated junior welterweight Erik Morales (52-7, 36 KOs) of Mexico, will defends his WBC belt against the magazine's No. 7-rated 140-pound contender Danny Garcia (22-0, 14 KOs), of Philadelphia, a man 11 years his junior.
Garcia turned 17 on March 19, 2005, one day before the now 35-year-old Morales became the last man to defeat Manny Pacquiao. Morales is also known for his trilogy with fellow Mexican and three-division titlewinner Marco Antonio Barrera, having lost twice.
In his last fight in September, Morales became the first Mexican to win four belts over as many different weight classes. Morales did so with a 10th-round TKO over the previously unbeaten then-21-year-old prospect, Pablo Cesar Cano.
But Morales enters his fight with Garcia after having endured gall bladder surgery in December that forced him to withdraw from his initially scheduled match up with Garcia from Jan. 28 until Saturday.
A panel of 18 knowledgeable boxing aficionados polled by RingTV.com favors Garcia to win, 13-5.
Garcia, who turned 24 on Monday, agrees.
"The time is here. And no matter who it was, I'm going to be champion on Saturday. He has a lot of experience. He's a good fighter, but I'm just more focused on me being in top shape," said Garcia, who scored consecutive decisions over ex-world titleholders, Nate Campbell, and, Kendall Holt in April and October, respectively.
"I feel like I've got the fights that I needed. We feel strong, we feel confident and we feel ready to be champion. I always go in there for the knockouts. I can punch with both hands. I'm a strong fighter. I would love to give the fans what they want to see, which is a knockout."
MORALES SAYS THAT HE'S "STILL HUNGRY"
Morales was considered an all-but-finished fighter following consecutive knockout losses to Pacquiao 2006 in the 10th, and, third rounds, respectively, and after falling by decision to David Diaz in ‘07.
The loss to Diaz was the fourth straight after having beaten Pacquiao for Morales, who ended a 31-month ring absence with a unanimous decision over Jose Alfaro in March of 2010,.
In April of last year, his right eye completely closed after a contentious first round, Morales lost a disputed majority decision to hard-hitting Marcos Maidana, a fight that most ringsiders thought he had won.
A winner of one of four of his past five fights, Morales stopped junior featherweight titleholder Daniel Zaragoza in the 11th round in 1997 to claim his first major title.
Morales defended that crown nine times, including a fourth-round KO of Junior Jones, a decision over Wayne McCullough and an the split-decision win over Barrera in their first meeting and THE RING’s Fight of the Year for 2000.
Against Garcia, Morales wants to trump the younger man's youth in an attempt to recapture his own.
"As far as name recognition, Garcia is very young. It's been a short career so far for him. But I want to make everybody clear that boxing is not just about strength and a few words or about taking proteins and being physically strong," said Morales.
"It's much more than that, and that's what I want to show. To fight and to beat a young man. To beat his speed, to beat his dream, to beat his hunger, that will, show me that I'm still at the elite level, and that I'm still ready to take the bigger and better fights. That starts on Saturday."
JOSE LUIS CASTILLO MEETS JOSE MIGUEL COTTO
Former titleholder Jose Luis Castillo (63-11-1, 54 KOs) will meet Jose Miguel Cotto (32-3-1, 24 KOs), the older brother of WBA junior middleweight titleholder, Miguel Cotto, in a welterweight bout on the Morales-Garcia undercard.
Photo by Emily Harney, Fightwireimages.com
Photo by Dwight McCann, Fightwireimages.com
Photos by Jon Eilts, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org