Thirty-five-year-old Erik “El Terrible” Morales will be facing one of his toughest tests since making his comeback in 2010 when he defends his WBC Junior Welterweight Championship against 23-year-old Danny Garcia at the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas on March 24. This fight was originally scheduled for Jan. 28th, but Morales pulled out after having undergone gallbladder surgery.
Garcia started his pro career with an impressive 20-0 record, but mostly against no-name opponents. He’s picked up the pace a bit over his last couple of fights with decision wins over former champions Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt. He’ll take an undefeated 24-0 record into the fight with 14 KOs. He’s a decent boxer-puncher with pretty good power, mainly in his right hand.
Morales (52-7, 36KOs) has seen it all in his long and legendary 19-year career with a win and two losses against both Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao. In fact, he was the last man to defeat Pacquiao, which was by a unanimous decision back in 2005. Morales fights to the end as he’s all heart with no quit in him. However, some night he’s simply just beaten by a better opponent. He’s been a world super-bantamweight, featherweight, super-featherweight, and light welterweight champion along the way after turning pro at the age of 16 in 1993.
His last fight, which was against up-and-coming fellow Mexican Pablo Cesar Cano on Sept. 17th, was an example of this never-say-die attitude. He just kept coming at the youngster and ended up winning a 10th-round TKO and picked up the vacant WBC Junior Welterweight crown with the victory. This was a historical fight for Morales as he became the first Mexican boxer to win world championships in four different weight classes.
Garcia of Philadelphia has the physical skills to beat Morales, but it’s unknown if he has the determination and how he’ll react if the fight becomes a toe-to-toe brawl. Morales is used to all-out wars and was engaged in his most recent one early last year when he went 12 rounds with heavy-hitting Marcos Maidana of Argentina and lost by a very close majority decision for the WABS interim junior welterweight crown. It was one of the best fights of the year and silenced some of Morales’ doubters.
At 5-foot-8, Morales is an inch shorter than Garcia, but has a three-inch reach advantage. Of course, he has a lot more experience than his opponent and has fought most of the top contenders in his weight divisions over the years, but Garcia has youth on his side. Garcia had an excellent amateur record, winning several national and international championships, before turning pro in 2007.
There’s no doubt that Morales can still dish out the punishment and after the Maidana fight it appears he can also still take it. If Garcia doesn’t outwork him and isn’t able to jolt Morales with his power it could be a long night for the youngster from Philadelphia. Look for Morales to dig down deep and leave the ring with the title belt still wrapped around his waist after winning a 12-round decision.