Mark E. Ortega

Hand injury delays ring return of Erik Morales

Mexican ring legend Erik Morales will have to wait a little bit longer to make his return to the ring.
 
Friday, it was confirmed that Morales (52-9, 36 knockouts) suffered a hand injury in preparation for his Mar. 22 bout against Jorge Paez Jr., which was supposed to take place in Monterrey and end a 17-month absence for the four-division titlist.
 
Instead, it is likely that Jose Miguel Cotto, the older brother of Miguel Cotto, will take the place of Morales against Paez Jr., according to a source at Zanfer Promotions, who handles Paez Jr. This is contrary to reports stating that Colombian slugger Breidis Prescott will be the replacement.
 
That same source at Zanfer told RingTV.com via e-mail that Morales arrives in Tijuana today and more will be known regarding the severity of his injury when he gets it looked at in San Diego tomorrow.
 
Morales hasn't fought since a crushing knockout defeat in October 2012 at the hands of current RING Magazine junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 
 
Prior to the bout, Morales failed multiple administered drug tests but was allowed by the New York State Athletic Commission to fight anyways. Following the loss, Morales was suspended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency from fighting for two years. That ban doesn't extend to outside the United States, and Morales intends to finish out his career in Mexico, making him largely unaffected by the ban.
 
Morales was competitive against Garcia in their first meeting in March of 2012, but his last truly memorable performance came in April 2011 when he battled Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a brave effort, losing a close twelve-round decision.
 
Though a far cry from the fighter who handed Manny Pacquiao a defeat in March 2005, it is unlikely the 36-year old Morales will be deterred from continuing once he has fully healed.

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