Photos: Box Latino
Current WBC super lightweight world championship incumbent Erik Morales, 35, from Tijuana, Mexico but fights out of California, USA, makes the first defence of his recently-acquired world title when he takes on unbeaten Philadelphian challenger Danny Garcia in a high profile card at the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas on Saturday, March 24. Ahead of fisticuffs, the ring legend, whose record is 52-7-0, 36ko, engaged in a workout session at the Savannah Boxing Club.
A four division world titlist having enjoyed previous reigns atop the super bantamweight, featherweight and super featherweight divisions, Morales interrupted a three-year mini retirement to return to the sweet science in 2010 and, in his fourth fight back, boxed a 2011 classic with big-hitting Argentinean; Marcos Maidana.
Morales suffered a grotesque swelling the size of a half-cut tennis ball in the opening stages yet overcame the injury to box effectively and well enough to warrant a tight points verdict, or a draw at least, yet the judges at ringside awarded a majority decision to Maidana, who left Las Vegas with the interim WBA belt as a result.
Morales, dubbed El Terrible, was not setback by the loss and was thrust into a full world title fight with late replacement Pablo Cesar Cano for the vacant WBC belt. Morales retired the marked-up youngster in the tenth round of their September, 2011 bout.
The Mexican’s training camp for his upcoming examination has mostly been spent in his homeland, particularly the Otomi mountain region near Temoaya, with father/ trainer Jose Morales, assistants and sparring partners as he prepares to box a prizefighter 11 years his junior.
His weekend opponent, Garcia, is challenging for his first world championship but, regardless of his relative inexperience at elite level, is a highly-acclaimed 24-year-old who deserves the shot with wins over Ashley Theophane, Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt. An orthodox boxer-puncher, Garcia (22-0-0, 14ko) has good speed, evident power and a left hook signature shot.
Having already made the trip to Houston, Morales is winding down the final part of his training camp in Texas as fight night rapidly approaches and, at the Savannah this week, the blood-and-guts warrior shadow-boxed, entertained photo-happy fans by skipping rope (middle left), manipulated the heavy bag (top left) and went through his punch routines with his coaching staff (bottom left).
Having attended a public workout session on Wednesday, Morales’ media duties now include a final press conference at the Reliant Arena on Thursday, the official weigh-in at the Americas Mall on Friday and, of course, the HBO: World Championship Boxing card on Saturday.
Supporting the main event is an intriguing undercard bout between brutal super welterweight James Kirkland (30-1-0, 27ko); one of the most exciting fighters in modern boxing who is coming off the back of a career-best victory; a sixth round stoppage over fellow headhunter Alfredo Angulo. Kirkland, a Texan, takes on Carlos Molina (19-4-2, 6ko) in an official WBC eliminator. The winner will be aligned with Vanes Martirosyan in a final eliminator to provide Saul Alvarez with a mandatory challenger.