At 35-years-old, Erik Morales is a Mexican legend. His scintillating trilogy with Marco Antonio Barrera is one of the all-time great feuds in boxing lore. But after engaging in so many wars, he seemed to be fading badly in the late 2000s. After a loss to David Diaz at lightweight, Morales announced his retirement.
But after a 2 ½ year hiatus from the squared-circle, Morales (52-7, 36 knockouts) returned to the ring and proved he still belonged.
After three bouts against lesser opponents, Morales rejuvenated his career with his shocking performance against Marcos Maidana last April, barely dropping a close majority decision to the Argentine brawler. Morales hopes to continue the second act of his career on Saturday at the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas, against Danny Garcia (10 p.m. ET, HBO), as he defends his WBC junior welterweight title against the highly-regarded young contender with big plans of his own.
“To fight and beat a young man, to beat his speed, to beat his dream, to beat his hunger will show me that I’m still at the level and I’m still ready for the bigger and better fights,” Morales said through translator Robert Diaz on a media conference call Tuesday. “But this, it starts on Saturday.”
“El Terrible” was originally slated to face the undefeated 24 year old from Philadelphia on January 28, but he was forced to withdraw from the bout due to surgery for gall stones. Morales doesn’t believe the surgery will have any bearing on his performance Saturday, though.
“At the beginning of training camp I did have a little bit of soreness and backache, but as we started working and continued working those went away and I’m 100 percent today,” Morales said. “The only thing you can see is the scars, the traces of the surgery, but I’m 100 percent – I’m feeling very well and healthy.”
Morales, THE RING’s No. 5-rated junior welterweight, feels his three-year lay off after his loss to Diaz was the best thing he could have done, a much needed vacation from the trials and tribulations of training.
“I feel rejuvenated,” said Morales. “It was the best thing I could have done in my life. I needed to take some time
off, think about what I really wanted to do, and it helped. Now I know I’m 100 percent convinced of what I want. I love boxing. I love being in the ring, that sensation, the adrenaline that comes with it.”
Morales knows he is in for a tough fight on Saturday, especially against a hungry fighter 11 years his junior, but he says Garcia (22-0, 14 knockouts), THE RING’s No. 7-rated junior welterweight, can’t possibly match his penchant for blood and guts. He even claimed that Garcia is more concerned about his appearance than preparing for a grueling fight.
“I’ve seen him in a few fights,” said Morales. “I think he’s very fast, strong, but I also think he’s more worried about his looks once he’s in the ring; if he’s presentable, how he looks physically. And he dreams, he has high dreams, but we’ll see Saturday night.”
Though in the twilight of his career, there is still much that the future hall of famer wishes to accomplish. And any fight Morales signs for, he knows he can win.
“I didn’t take this fight because I didn’t think I could win. I accepted this fight because I know I can win,” said Morales. “I’m confident of all the hard work that’s been put in to win this fight. My motivation is beyond this fight, for bigger and better things.”
Photo / Jon Elits-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions