Ring legend and Mexican favorite Erik Morales makes a most unfortunate return as a ring headliner Saturday, April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Words fail to properly communicate the true travesty and potential tragedy of such a bout against the deadly hitting Argentinean gunslinger, Marcos Maidana.
How this bout even got mooted to begin with is more than enough sociopathic manipulation to comprehend, but to get the bout actually sanctioned smacks of the long sordid history of boxing’s worst ring moments rewritten and recast in the name of nothing more than greed and delusions of professionals who should know better.
It’s more the pity in that the undercard is a geniunely high level competitive set of bouts featuring two former champs, Robert Guerro and Michael Katsidis going after it for the interim WBO lightweight belt, and former champ Pauli Malignaggi further testing out the welterweight division against the other Cotto brother, Jose Miguel Cotto, who is looking for respect in this new division for them.
It would be a shame to see such solid matchmaking overwhelmed by a terrible tragedy, so I can only hope and pray that the disaster of Erik Morales is averted with a mercifully quick one-punch KO by Maidana, who is doubtless looking to do exactly that.
I won’t bore the public with a tiny tirade about the decline of the Erik Morales skillset and durability these past years. He retired in 2007 after a savage brawl against WBC lightweight champ David Diaz, claiming to be hearing ringing sounds as constant background noise, yet returned in 2010 saying he wanted to be the first Mexican to win a title in four divisions.
Folks probably don’t recall that Morales turned pro as a tall skinny super bantamweight some 18 very long years ago in 1993. He’ll be 35 this year with 57 tough bouts and 387 hard rounds withdrawn as his credit line in the great bank of life.
It’s getting tougher and tougher to make the payments these days as the 40ish last-minute replacement fighter Francisco Lorenzo showed him last time out, a bout that can only be described a WBC Christmas present to lifelong WBC titleist Morales.
Maidana is one of the most feared – and I do mean feared – punchers currently operating in boxing. It would be terrible for the future health of the tough-as-nails Morales to take the kind of punishment that young Amir Khan has yet to show he can rebound from after his recent slugfest against Maidana, which saw Khan out on his feet the last couple of rounds and held upright by a “merciful” ref.
But there is money to be made on the backs of legends, and fair play to Morales, who apparently is still tough enough to make Juan Manuel Marquez back off their anticipated bout, which would have been equally one-sided from a technical point of view.
Maybe Marquez was feeling his own age and the effects of a tough bout against Michael Katsidis, who knocked him down hard. Maidana, however, is still fresh and in his prime and suffers from no age-related ailments.
Morales knew that Marquez also backed off a bout with Maidana, so he became the first in line for the opportunity, the brave warrior’s little dig at Marquez even if it means his last stand. The fighting spirit of Erik Morales has always stood him in good stead, but this time there are serious health concerns, so I don’t feel I am overdramatizing the debilitating after-effects.
There is always the possibility of an unspoken gentleman’s agreement where Maidana wears the kid gloves and only looks to the judges to deliver him from the judgement of fate, but having been jobbed most recently in the Khan bout, Maidana can be excused for his lack of charity if he goes after the old warrior hard.
Like Muhammad Ali’s bouts against Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick, I will simply look away.
It simply didn’t have to end like this, but it always seems to happen against a certain class of great fighter who refuses to quit. Que lastima.
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