Undefeated 21-year-old junior welterweight Pablo Cesar Cano will face three-division titleholder Erik Morales on Sept. 17 for the WBC’s vacant title belt in a bout that is slated for HBO Pay Per View from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Cano (22-0-1, 17 KOs) of Mexico City has replaced hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs) of Argentina, who withdrew earlier this week with a viral infection that prevented him from training.
The 34-year-old Morales (51-7, 35 KOs) will clash with Cano on the under card of a main event featuring Floyd Mayweather Jr.(41-0, 25 KOs) against WBC welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs).
“The opponent for Erik Morales’ world championship fight is going to be Pablo Cesar Cano. [He] is the highest-available ranked opponent by the WBC in the 140-pound weight class,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer.
“He has a tremendous punch and he’s an all-action fighter. We wanted to make sure that the replacement for Matthysse was going to be an opponent that would make this a fight that we could be proud of because that’s what the fans on this very special weekend will want, expect and deserve.”
Morales ended a 31-month ring absence with a unanimous decision over Jose Alfaro in March of last year, his first of three straight victories. Morales then lost a disputed majority decision in April to Marcos Maidana (30-2, 27 KOs), a fight many ringsiders thought Morales won.
“Just like he was against Maidana, we know that Morales will be up to the task,” said Schaefer. “Even though he’s fighting a younger and much stronger guy and a much bigger guy as well. But he said ‘Just bring him on,’ and he’s ready for anyone that we put in front of him.”
The last man to beat to current WBO welterweight beltholder Manny Pacquiao, Morales is one of five Mexican fighters to have earned title belts in three divisions, with Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Fernando Montiel.
In victory over Cano, Morales could become the first of his countrymen to win a fourth belt in as many different weight divisions.
Morales, of Tijuana, Mex., is perhaps most recognized for his clashes with Barrera (66-7, 43 KOs), of Mexico City, having lost twice in a trilogy that ranks among the greatest of all time.
Five months after falling to Barrera for the second time, Morales out-pointed Pacquiao in March 2005. But Morales lost his next four fights after that, culminating with a unanimous decision against David Diaz in his lightweight debut in August 2007.
“This is going to be a very good showdown between a young, undefeated fighter from Mexico City and a legend from Tijuana. Pablo Cesar Cano is 21-years young, and he’s from Mexico City, and so the rivalry between Mexico City and Tijuana, where Morales is from, is going to continue,” said Schaefer, referring to the Barrera-Morales trilogy.
“Interestingly, Pablo is trained by the same trainer who trained Marco Antonio Barrera from Mexico City as well, and that’s Rudy Perez. I spoke to Rudy, and he is excited about the opportunity. He has the recipe and knows how to beat Morales. Most recently, he did it in the corner of Maidana.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com