SecondsOut breaks down the matchup and figures out who will win
By: Mike Sloan: A few years ago it would have sounded like something out of a science fiction movie or on an episode of the Twilight Zone, but Erik Morales is fighting Saturday and much of the boxing world is anxiously awaiting the bout. Once considered a fighter with more damage than the peak of Mount St. Helens and chastised for not finally hanging up his gloves for good, “El Terrible” somehow got the spark back and began winning again.
After dropping four straight fights, one of them being an embarrassing shellacking at the hands of Manny Pacquiao in their rubber match, Morales was finished. He had slowly become the second coming of Mexican hero Julio Cesar Chavez; he was losing badly and was clearly a shot fighter. However, after a much needed break from the Sweet Science, Morales rebounded with wins over three nondescript foes and almost pulled off the unthinkable in a losing effort against Marcos Maidana; it what was easily one of the best brawls of 2011. A spectacular stoppage win over then-unbeaten Pablo Cesar Cano had the boxing world abuzz and somehow eager to see him fight again.
Enter Danny Garcia, an undefeated contender from Philadelphia who the sport’s “experts” are clamoring over. Garcia has looked impressive virtually every time out and after finally stepping up his level of competition, he scored crucial wins over the likes of Mike Arnaoutis, cagey veteran Nate Campbell and most recently Kendall Holt. If ever there was a time for the young Garcia (22-0, 14 KOs) to grab hold of the spotlight and score a sensational win over a big name and use that as a springboard into stardom, Morales is the perfect foe.
However, will Morales (52-7, 36 KOs), a guaranteed Hall of Famer on the first ballot when he’s finally eligible, be the perfect foil and turn Father Time away again? As old and shopworn as Morales has been over the last half decade, he still is one of the toughest hombres in the entire sport and he knows every single trick in the book. He boxes well when he can but he’s not afraid to stand and bang for twelve rounds, either. Who will win the showdown? SecondsOut.com breaks down the matchup and figures out who will win the fight. Read on:
Advantage: Morales in his younger days at lighter weights was one of the most feared punchers in the game. He was laying out opponents like kitchen tile (Junior Jones, Kevin Kelley, Ranchero Ramirez, Angel Chacon, etc.) but once he stepped up to take on the elite of his division and climbed into higher weight classes, his raw power wasn’t as vaunted. Still, his pop never actually left and blew away Guty Espadas in their rematch and hurt Marco Antonio Barrera, Pacquiao and Maidana in their classic encounters. Garcia can crack, too, but he’s never displayed the sort of savagery as some of his peers. More of a crafty boxer than bruising crusher, Garcia usually wins with speed, angles, and savvy. Advantage: Morales
Speed: Morales used to have terrific speed but that was mainly due to precise punching born from somewhat awkward angles. A master boxer who sets traps when he needs to, Morales’ speed was always a bit deceiving because he never smoked anyone with the sort of lightning that Floyd Mayweather has and Zab Judah had. Garcia isn’t the second coming of Roy Jones, either, but his youth and lack of wear benefit him. Also a smart puncher who throws straight shots, Morales could be in for a long night if he can’t crack Garcia’s psyche. Advantage: Garcia
Size: Garcia is an inch taller, but he’s slim and shredded. Morales failed to make weight on Friday and will enter the bout a much bigger man. It’s never a good sign for a man with the sort of career that Morales enjoyed to not only have zero muscle definition but to miss the 140 pound weight limit by two pounds. Rumors swirled all week that Morales was having difficulty shedding the poundage where Garcia did it effortlessly. Morales’ larger size could wind up working against him and the added weight could make him even more sluggish. Advantage: Garcia
Age factor: Nothing helps a boxer more than experience and “El Terrible” is only 35. However, that’s a very old 35 considering the inhuman amount of wars he’s been in. Garcia, though he’s never faced anybody the likes of Morales, is eleven years his junior and much fresher. He’ll be quicker, faster and he’ll have the edge in reflexes. Advantage: Garcia
Chin: Morales’ chin is one of the seven wonders of the world. Though he has been stopped, it’s mainly because of his body being completely sapped and worn out. He’s taken the best shots from some of the best punchers in the history of the lower weight classes and virtually never flinched. Garcia has never really been hurt before but he hasn’t faced the sort of punchers that Morales has. Morales’ chin’s history goes without saying, but Garcia’s is up for debate. Based solely on whom they’ve fought up to this point and looking at actual evidence, there’s only one way to go, though it might be a bit unfair. Slight advantage: Morales
Experience: If the fight’s outcome was to be determined solely on this aspect of the matchup, Garcia wouldn’t even be allowed to step into the ring with Morales. “El Terrible” has locked horns with the best of the best, two of which will certainly be enshrined in Canastota, and another’s already in. Many others who were at or near the top all fell at the hands of Morales. Garcia’s career can’t even begin to be compared to Morales’. Huge advantage: Morales
Intangibles: There are so many different intangibles that factor into the outcome of the fight. For starters, it’s the classic crossroads matchup of old veteran against young buck. Morales really can’t afford to lose, especially if it’s one-sided, if he’s to try and land another major payday against one of the best in the game. On the flip side, Garcia hasn’t yet lost and contrary to what so many bumbling “experts” will make you believe, a loss is nowhere near the death knell it’s thought to be. So even if Morales has another magical night somewhere in his frame and Garcia isn’t quite up to snuff in the biggest fight of his career, he’ll be okay. Still, the pressure of trying to use Morales as a springboard to greener pastures is much more pressure on Garcia’s shoulder than trying to prove the naysayers wrong in Morales’ eyes. Like stated before, all the experience and bags of tricks heavily favor Morales though the youth and speed factors are all on Garcia’s side. The missing of weight on Friday could be a harbinger of how poorly Morales could perform, as well. This bout eerily resembles Morales’ stoppage of Daniel Zaragoza. Advantage: Garcia
The bottom line: Though Morales has had a string of terrific performances, one of those was a loss and the others came against lower-tiered fighters. He wasn’t exactly going toe-to-toe with the best of the best. This fight appears as the perfect showcase fight for Garcia where he’ll rise to the occasion and add one of the biggest names of this generation onto his resume. It’s possible that Morales can pull off the sort of performance he had against Maidana, but Garcia isn’t as reckless as the Argentine. If things get hairy for Garcia, as they will on a few occasions, he’ll intelligently escape and regroup. Garcia will jump on Morales early, let him back into the fight and get rocked midway through, but overcome the adversity and box beautifully. Morales will charge hard in the later rounds, but Father Time will finally nab him. Garcia will keep the pressure on late, pour on the scattered attacks and force a stoppage in the eleventh. Bank on it.
You can also contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19 or follow him on Twitter @mikesloan19