By Kieran Mulvaney
When Danny Garcia fought his first professional fight, Erik Morales had already retired. He'd had a hugely successful career that included winning world titles in three weight divisions, as well as the adoration of Mexican fight fans and the admiration of followers of the sweet science everywhere.
But Morales, who hung up his gloves in 2007 after five defeats in his last six bouts, couldn’t stay out of action for long. He returned to the ring in 2010, and on Saturday night, he faces Garcia in a junior welterweight title fight. He will be looking to draw on the experience of 59 pro fights to beat back the young man’s challenge.
Among the pick of the crop his lengthy career:
KO11 Daniel Zaragoza, September 6 1997
In his first world title fight, Morales showed the strengths and weaknesses that marked his early career and made him such a popular fighter. The 21-year-old took more punches than he needed to against the game veteran, and his footwork could have done with some refinement, but over the second half the fight, uppercuts and punishing body shots dropped Zaragoza and sent him into retirement.
W12 Marco Antonio Barrera, February 19 2000
The first fight of Morales’ epic trilogy against Barrera was probably the best, and highlighted both Mexicans’ willingness to stand and trade blows. In an epic see-saw slugfest, Morales survived a knockdown (which he argued was a slip) to eke out a close win.
W12 Manny Pacquiao, March 19 2005
As Morales aged, he focused less on face-first brawling and more on technique. He used that technique to overcome a still relatively-raw Pacquiao, frustrating the Filipino by jabbing and moving away from the southpaw’s big left hand. It was Pacquiao’s last defeat, and the last win of Morales’ pre-retirement career.
L12 Marcos Maidana, April 9 2011
The transition from young fighter to veteran boxer was in full effect against the hard-hitting Argentinian. Maidana’s fists caused the Mexican’s right eye to grotesquely swell early on, but Morales showed guile, subtle defense and superior technique to outbox the younger man for much of the fight.
Garcia’s hands are much less heavy than Maidana’s, but he is more skilled than the Argentinian. The question is, can he be as skilled as Morales? Will youth be victorious or will experience prevail?