Mexican boxing legend Erik Morales (51-7, 35 Kos) proved on April 9 in Las Vegas that not all boxing comebacks by ageing fighters end in embarrassment. The 34-year-old warrior gave as good as he got at the MGM Grand in his 12-round battle against Marcos Maidana of Argentina, but came out on the short end of a majority decision. Maidana, the WBA Interim Jr. Welterweight Champion, kept his crown by scores of 114-114, 116-112, and 116-112.
Morales, the last man to beat Manny Pacquiao, back in 2005, retired in 2007 after losing his next four fights. He was inactive for three years until deciding to make a comeback in an attempt to become the first Mexican to win world titles in four different weight divisions. Most experts thought the move was ill advised since Morales just looked like a shell of his former self in those four losses and was stopped twice.
He started on the comeback trail in March of last year and won three fights against mediocre opposition, winning one by knockout and two by 12-round unanimous decisions. He looked okay in the ring again, but didn’t show fans anything spectacular.
When it was announced that he’d be taking on the 27-year-old Maidana (30-2, 27 Kos), who’s known as one of the most punishing punchers in boxing, most people associated with the sport thought Morales was more or less committing suicide. And after the first round against the Argentinean, most fans probably thought so too, especially with his right eye swelling shut so early on. Morales looked tentative and quite slow during the opening three minutes, but gained speed and confidence as the fight went on.
He started showing some of his old moves and had Maidana confused. He also started letting his fists fly and won the fifth round by a wide margin. He then nailed the champion with a superb left hook in the eighth round that rocked him.
It was a close fight heading into the last two rounds and this is where Maidana cemented the victory as Morales slowly ran out of steam. However, he put up a determined fight and showed he still has enough in his bag of tricks to become a world champion again.
After the fight, Morales, whose eye was swollen and completely shut, said he thought he landed the cleaner shots and wanted a rematch. Maidana said it was a close and tough fight and he’d like to give him a rematch, but also wants to fight some of the divisions other top boxers. He felt Morales would be successful if he continued his career because he can take a good punch and is still stronger than many of today’s younger fighters.
Most fans would love to see them go at it a second time, but it’s hard to say if Morales would be able to fight at this level again. It could have been a one-off performance. But if it ends up being his swansong, the Mexican legend went out fighting and should be proud of his performance.