Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday Morales mailbag

 

THE PUREST OF WARRIORS

Mr. Fischer,

It’s been a while since last I wrote to you. You once referred to Erik Morales as the “Purest of Warriors” and watching him perform tonight against Maidana reminded us why. He has been my favorite fighter and it was hard to imagine he could pull it off. It was sad to read all of the pre-fight reports but I had hopes that he would pull it off and he did. I thought he won the fight 7 rounds to 5 but it was a very close fight. How did you score the fight? Do you think there should be a rematch? Where do you think both fighters go from here?

Have you had the opportunity to see Erik’s younger brother Ivan Morales? I first saw him on the undercard of Morales-Alfaro back in May. He appears to have good technique and reminds me of Erik when he was younger. Keep up the great work. – Ricardo, Los Angeles

I think Ivan was supposed to be on the undercard Saturday but his fight fell out, as did Gary Russell Jr.’s and a few others. I’m sure I’ll get an opportunity to watch him live soon.

I scored the fight for Maidana by one point. I had it 6-5-1 in rounds for the heavy handed Argentine badass, so I can totally understand any scorecard that had either fighter winning by a 7-5 margin. I thought a draw would have been fair (although most fans seem to hate draws).

What’s next for both fighters? I think Golden Boy Promotions will try to stage a rematch between Maidana and Morales. The first bout was a hard sell because fans and the media either thought that Morales was shot or they didn’t know what he had left. Now that they know he’s got enough left to give Madiana hell over a 12-round bout, the rematch has a credibility that the first bout lacked.In other words, GBP can sell Maidana-Morales II, which is what a promoter is supposed to do.

However, I’d rather see Morales ride off into the sunset, while Maidana challenges either Timothy Bradley or Lucas Matthysse.

I used to call Morales “the best pure warrior” in the sport during his heyday.

There were other “warriors” who made their marks during El Terrible’s prime, such as the late Arturo Gatti and Diego Corrales, and Micky Ward, but Morales was the best, in my opinion, because he had it all — the will, the skill, the technique, the chin, the punch (at the lighter weights), and the attitude.

What a pleasure it was covering him from the late 1990s to about 2005. His fight with Maidana brought back all the memories of what made him so special. I had the opportunity to call the action to Saturday’s fight (with Dave Bontempo for HBO’s world feed) — something I never fathomed I would do when I was covering Morales’ junior featherweight and featherweight years — and it was truly an honor.

 

MORALES WINS A REMATCH

If Morales has two eyes, he’s clearly got his mojo back and his confidence is there, I think he wins a rematch with Maidana. And I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s by KO. I seriously thought he might KO Maidana in some of those rounds on Saturday. Morales has hugs balls, period. Remember when he was thought to be dead after Marco Antonio Barrera trilogy? What did he do? Kick Manny Pacquiao’s ass! When he was thought to be a speed bump for Maidana, what did he do? Get in his ass and almost stop him.

There is really no alternative to greatness. I’m just so happy as a fight fan to have guys like B-HOP and Morales around. All-time great fighters who say f__k the odds and go out there and kick ass when everybody doubts them. The reason they can do it is that they are truly great and even a percentage of their prime is enough to beat today’s fighters in their prime. These young guys today are not like those guys. Morales has been in so many wars and has so much experience against fellow all time great fighters that he can kick ass against a monster with one f___ing eye! For 12 rounds no less. I have always loved The Tijuana Warlord and I’ll be damned if he didn’t take Maidana to war Saturday night.

I want to see the immediate rematch. Morales at this stage does not need tunups. Maidana will not get better in rematch and Morales will. It took him four rounds to shake the rust off, but once he did he kicked ass, took bombs and kept fighting cagey and crafty, taking shots to set his up. Morales was looking for the KO. In the last two rounds he was getting pounded, but he obviously couldn’t see. In a rematch I’ve got Morales, bring it on! — JCB

You might get your wish. I think the first fight Golden Boy Promotions will try to make for either fighter is a rematch (they’ll probably give either fighter the option of a “gimme” fight over the summer and then aim for Mexican Independence weekend in September for the return bout.)

I agree with everything you said about Morales and Bernard Hopkins. To me, their greatness was (and continues to be) defined (in part) by the tough fights they pursued and won as considerable underdogs. B-Hop did it vs. Felix Trinidad, Antonio Tarver, Kelly Pavlik, and Jean Pascal (even though he had to settle for a draw). Morales did it vs. Barrera (in their rematch, even though he didn’t get the decision, because he was viewed as ‘spent bullet’ going into that fight), Pacquiao (first fight), and, of course, the Maidana fight. If Floyd Mayweather Jr. really wanted to convince all “the haters” out there that he’s a great fighter, he would seek out a fight that he knew odds makers, hardcore fans and the media would totally count him out (Sergio Martinez, anyone?), and then he would get in that ring and prove everybody wrong. 

If Mayweather triumphed in the ring as a 3-to-1 (or more) underdog, we have no choice but to give him his due. In fact, if he sought out a dangerous enough foe (paging Mr. Martinez), we would give him credit even if he didn’t get the ‘W,’ just as we were happy to do with Hopkins after the Pascal fight and Morales after the Maidana fight.

 

MORALES, KIRKLAND AND THE WEEKS AHEAD

Dougie,

What did we just watch?! Here are the things that went through my mind after Morales-Maidana:

1. Morales had some issues when he retired. He found himself and we just got to see Morales being Morales!

2. Is the 140-pound division actually not the juggernaut everybody thinks?! I mean Morales put a whooping enough to get a near draw on a guy that bullies everyone in that division!

3. Maidana underestimated Morales.

I think it is a combination of 1 and 2 (more 1 than 2, though).

Morales showed that he can box and bang with the best at this stage. As soon as Maidana put some leather on him and El Terrible answered by fighting fire with fire I knew it would be a special fight. I think Terrible will be a great fighter to separate the championship level contenders from the great contenders… like an elite gatekeeper if you will.

I must say I was not too surprised to see Kirkland on his back. After seeing that fight on Boxeo Tecate where he got rocked I knew it would be a matter of time. Then when I saw Ishida at the weigh in and saw him throwing straight punches during the fight I knew this would be a long night (ended up being short in the ring) for Kirkland. James might be powerful but the laws of physics still apply as far as leverage and power go and Ishida knew how to use that to his favor.

I WAS surprised that Joe Cortez stopped the fight. There was NO 3 KNOCKDOWN RULE, and James looked like he was shaken but not hurt. What would have happened if last night's Cortez had reffed Pacquiao-Marquez 1? He would have prevented a legendary comeback from happening. We all know Kirkland can crack and last night he had the opportunity to show if he has heart or the recuperating power to comeback from a horrible first round. Once again Cortez does not disappoint, he LOVES to interject himself into his events.

I saw that the Roman Martinez-Luis Cruz fight that would open the Showtime card on Saturday is off because of an injury to Martinez' back. Did you have a take on this fight? I was actually just as excited about this fight as I was about the main event.

Two more weeks for the Bantamweight Tournament finals! Am I the only one excited about this? Take care bro. — Hector

You are not alone, Hector. I’m looking forward to Agbeko-Mares and Perez-Darchinyan more than Berto-Ortiz, Lopez-Salido, and Pacquiao-Mosley.

I favored Cruz over Martinez in a tremendous fight. Hopefully this Puerto Rican showdown will be rescheduled.

I’ve been critical of Cortez in the past, but I think he made the right call with Kirkland on Saturday. Kirkland was willing to continue fighting but he had no legs to stand on, so he had no power/leverage on his shots, so given his lack of defense, he no chance to turn the fight around. Cortez didn’t have the same caliber of fighter or the same situation with Kirkland as he had in the first round of the Marquez-Pacquiao bout. A) Marquez was a dual titleholder with championship experience, not an undefeated brawler coming off two years of inactivity, and B) JMM’s legs appeared sturdy after each knockdown.

Kudos to Ishida, who I met two years ago (he’s based in Southern Cali.) and who I know put in the work for this fight (sparring with the likes of Peter Quillin at the Wild Card gym and the toughest hombres at Eddie Herredia’s gym in East L.A. and the Maywood Boxing Club). Kirkland didn’t have any decent sparring for this fight and I don’t believe he thought he had to. All he was concerned about was his weight, and from what I’ve heard from reliable sources in Las Vegas, once he began fasting in order to get close to and under 160 pounds, his performance in the gym fell way off.

Anyway, I wasn’t shocked to see Kirkland on his back, either, but I was surprised that Ishida put him there three times in the first round. I thought Ishida’s plan would be to take him into deep water (which for James is past the sixth round) and then try to drown him.

Morales did indeed show us that he can box and bang with the best even at this advanced stage of his career, but I don’t want see him continue to prove it and I certainly don’t want to see him become an “elite gatekeeper.”

Regarding the things that went through your mind after Morales-Maidana:

1. I agree.

2. I agree to a degree. I think the 140-pound division is a little bit overrated (for instance I don’t think it’s as deep as bantamweight). However, Maidana hasn’t fought and bullied all of the top junior welterweights. He hasn’t fought Tim Bradley, Devon Alexander, Zab Judah, Lamont Peterson or Lucas Matthysse (as a pro – I’m told that he beat his countryman 2 out of 3 times in the amateurs). We don’t know if Maidana can bully these guys, and we don’t know if Morales would have the same success he had with “Chino” against these other contenders.

3. Had Maidana underestimated Morales, I think he would have lost, or even been knocked out.

 

‘EL TERRIBLE’

Damn that was a good fight. It had everything you could want in a fight — a comeback/underdog story packed with great two-way action, and the high drama of Morales not only trying to survive Maidana but actually almost winning against a bigger younger fresher man. Morales showed why he's so special. He's not just a Mexican brawler but a smart tactician with great technique and a unbelievable heart. I got to thinking around the late rounds that hopefully Devon Alexander watches this fight and learns something about this beautiful yet brutal sport. We as fans want to root for someone who gives it their all every time out, who wants to not only win but look good doing, who shows some emotion in the ring. It’s why I tune in every time Morales, Katsidis, Rios, Pacquiao, Martinez and Maidana fight cause these guys put their heart and soul out there in every fight. I wish more were like that.

One more thing, I found it funny how after the Guerrero fight Humberto Soto was so easily pushed aside as an opponent for Marquez. It seemed blatantly obvious that HBO would rather do an all Golden Boy showdown between Marquez and Guerrero. That's fine but don't discredit a great champion like Soto in the meantime. Why not admit it’s hell trying to get those two promotional companies to work together. Thanks Dougie, your mailbags and gym notebooks get me thru my work weeks. — KP from AZ

I’m not a spokesperson for HBO, so I could be wrong with this assumption, but I think the cable network’s producers/commentators believe that the average boxing fan could a give a rat’s ass about promotional squabbles. My guess is that they also believe that the casual fight fan is more familiar with Juan Manuel Marquez than Humberto Soto (who didn’t set the world on fire in his last two HBO PPV appearances – his decision over David Diaz and his bizarre DQ loss to Francisco Lorenzo – and who hasn’t been seen on regular HBO since he was outboxed by Joan Guzman back in November of 2007).

You’re a hardcore fan, so you know things that the average fans don’t know, such as Soto being a skilled badass who was in one of the best fights of 2010 (vs. Urbano Antillon). He’ll get another chance to impress a wide audience with the Antillon rematch on the Pacquiao-Mosley Showtime PPV.

I’m a hardcore fan and a boxing writer, so I know some things that you may not know, such as the fact that Team Guerrero has pursued a fight with Soto many times (before the Top Rank-GBP beef, and before Guerrero was even with GBP, back when both fought at 130 and 126 pounds), and the Mexican’s management was not interested in making that fight, even when Guerrero’s side gave up every conceivable concession (money, location, weight, etc.).

Anyway, I think Guerrero vs. Marquez or Soto would make for a terrific lightweight fight and if The Ghost can maintain or build on the excellent form he showed against Katsidis, I think he can beat both Mexican veterans.

I agree with everything you said about Morales and Saturday’s fight. It had everything fans want to see in a high-profile fight – action, drama, surprises, ebbs and flows in each fighter’s momentum – and Morales once again showed us the heart, skill and savvy of a truly great fighter.

Here’s a question I have for you, a fellow hardcore fight fan: Do you think any of those boxing writers or message boarders who panned and damned the matchup, the promoter and the pay-per-view show for weeks leading into the fight will admit that the fight was good and that they were wrong about Morales?

My guess is that about 1% will be man or woman enough to do so.

 

BAD WEEKEND FOR BRAWLERS

Hey Doug,

Good weekend of fights with a few upsets, according to what the matchmakers were planning anyway.

David Lemieux? This is what happens when you feast on bums early. Lemieux was whacking out lower level opponents early, not learning defense and not learning how to deal with adversity. The first time he steps up a little bit he falls apart. He looked like he punched himself out in the first 5 rounds, then was out of

answers when Rubio didn't fold like his other overmatched and coming up in weight opponents. I always thought that his #10 rating was undeserved since he was not really fighting anyone.

You never know how these strong confident cats will respond to getting stopped. Kid Diamond was this really aggressive cat who was not the same once Nate Campbell took him to school. Although not a powerful fighter, Juan Diaz’ downfall also came after he fought Nate. We have seen B-Hop take many cats’ confidence over the years. We will see what happens to Lemieux, who, based on what I read in Montoya’s feature before the fight, had confidence bordering on arrogance. Saying things like he had something for Martinez? Based on fighting who? He was obviously reading his own press and listening to all the people around him hyping him.

That being said, I’m sure the corrupt WBC (who probably expected Lemieux to win) will find a way to get Chavez Jr. out of a fight with Rubio, if Chavez can get past Zbik, which is definitely not a given.

James Kirkland? Man, what can I say? When I saw the weigh-in pics I was wondering why this fight was made. And I’m sure GBP thought that this would be a blow-out for Kirkland, but Nobuhiro Ishida, a cat with just 8 KOs in a lighter weight division, had other ideas. Ishida used his length well and has very quick hands.

I read that Ishida was a 30-1 underdog? Well, somebody made some serious bread Saturday night, and it was not Kirkland. This is a costly loss, maybe Kirkland was overdoing it fighting so much in a short period of time.

Man, I was more impressed with Erik Morales last night than ever before. I have to admit I gave Erik absolutely no chance, and I could not believe that Morales asked for this fight. I did not think this fight would go 5 rounds. However, El Terrible, fighting out of his weight division, looking a bit pudgy at the weigh-in and fighting a crude but hard-punching 140 pounder, gave Marcos all he could handle. I did feel that Maidana pulled out the victory with his super aggressive rally in the last two rounds (and I was surprised that Erik withstood that assault), but Morales made it a serious fight, not by running, but by taking it to Maidana, stunning him several times and even backing him up with some veteran technique and serious heart. To my eyes this was one of Erik’s most impressive performances. Clearly certain styles bring out the best in him, and Maidana almost went the way of Lemieux and Kirkland, the other two brawlers this weekend.

All that being said, I would not like to see Morales in a rematch with Maidana. Erik took a lot of punishment, and he certainly proved me and a lot of people wrong. I think he might be able to beat Maidana, but at what cost? I would prefer he take on other opponents, or better still, just retire while he has it all together. That’s better than retiring only after you get beaten into submission.

It’s interesting to me how the skills of fighters like Morales and JM Marquez really shine when they are in with aggressive come-forward fighters. The styles of these Mexican greats are ready made for action fighters. They don’t do good with slick boxers, but they sure give you your money’s worth with the right style match-ups. I learned a lot from Erik last night. Funny thing is, that Youtube cat Dwyer was all over this and the Lemieux fight, as he said from the get-go that both fights would be competitive. Bruz is getting better and better with his analysis. Peace. — Steve

I also thought Rubio was very live. All he had to do was get out of the first three rounds and his recent track record (going nine rounds with Kelly Pavlik and going toe-to-toe with Enrique Ornelas over 12) told us that he could have too much for Lemieux.

Having said that, I don’t think Lemieux has been fed all bums. I think most of his recent opposition (Camacho Jr. aside) was appropriate for 21-year-old prospect (who just turned 22 in December). I don’t get upset when I read the kid calling out Sergio Martinez in articles. He’s a fighter. He’s supposed to think like that. His downfall was his promoter and management believing the hype and thinking the kid was ready for a title shot after only four years in the pro ranks and less than 60 rounds under his belt. It’s not like he was some Olympian who had 300 amateur bouts. He is a strong, powerful stalker – who happens to be VERY basic in his approach — much like a young Pavlik. Top Rank didn’t maneuver Pavlik into a title opportunity until his seventh year in the pros.

Bottom line: Lemieux was moved to fast.

Was Kirkland moved too fast after two years of activity (and weight gain)? It looks that way. The Ashida fight was supposed to give GBP’s matchmakers a better gauge of how slow or fast they could move Kirkland over the second half of the year. The Japanese veteran was picked because it was thought that he would take the sometimes reckless southpaw rounds without the threat of hurting the potential attraction. So much for that idea. Kirkland had three things working against him going into this fight: 1) he wasn’t getting along with his new trainer Ken Adams for some reason and they weren’t communicating in the final weeks of training, 2) his time out of the ring and his maturity have made it very hard for him to get below 160 pounds safely (he can still do it with the right conditioning and nutrition, but I’ve been told James was just fasting and sweating it out with a rubber suit in the gym), and 3) he took Ishida lightly (like pretty much everyone else did).

Kirkland’s got my sympathy. It’s going to be a long and lonely road back up that ladder. He can expect most fans and boxing writers to write him off.

I was also more impressed with Morales’ losing effort on Saturday than I was with some of his best victories, including the first Pacquiao fight. And I would also like to see him retire instead of going another grueling and punishing 12 rounds with Maidana (yeah, I know he almost beat the Argentine with one eye, but it’s never going to be easy with that guy) or offering himself up as stepping stone for speedsters such as Bradley, Khan, Judah or Alexander.

 

MORALES-BARRERA IV

What's up Dougie?

First of all, the judges who scored it for Maidana by that wide of a margin should be banned! Anyway, let's talk about 'El Terrible', anyone who wants to ask who was better between Morales and Barrera should shut up! Morales put up a hell of a fight and asked for a rematch against a young, tough fighter and even rocked him a couple of times. What happened to Barrera when he fought Khan?

Morales showed his age as far as his physical abilities. There were times where he had Maidana on the ropes in which a 27-year-old Morales would have gone in for the kill, but his boxing skills are on par and that's why he went all 12 rounds. I actually find it ironic that he decided to use his boxing skills now.

His career would have been much longer had he done it earlier. Then again, being a warrior is the main reason fans love 'El Terrible'! That's just me, though, a hardcore Morales fan since '97 when he beat Zaragoza. I was scared that he would get beat up, but now I want to see him fight Barrera again! What do you think Dougie? — Miguel LBC

I’d be interested in a fourth Morales-Barrera bout, and I doubt I'm alone in this thought. Their rivalry was boxing's most heated of the last decade. Look at you, a Morales man, still mad at MAB and trying to prove that your guy is superior (LOL!).

Hey, the way I see it Barrera is less risky than a Maidana rematch. I don’t say that because I doubt that Morales can win a return match, I say that because sometimes a fighter can win and lose (in terms of his long-term health) at the same time. 

I don’t care much for a senior’s tour in boxing, but I would pay attention to one that involved Morales, Barrera and, of course, Juan Manuel Marquez. They all still have enough left to make for high-intensity fights – which we know will be good just based on their styles – but they won’t be giving up so much in terms of size, speed, power and reflexes as they would against the young guns of the 135- and 140-pound division. I’d rather see Marquez-Barrera II than watch JMM get destroyed by Manny Pacquiao or Barrera get hammered into submission by Brandon Rios

 

Photo / Chris Cozzone-FightWireImages.com

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