HARRISON, N.J.–There are too many fighters (hello, Andre Berto) who open mouth, insert foot.
Mexican boxing icon Erik Morales, embarking on the second leg of what he says is a six bouts only comeback trail, is not of them.
He was a thinking man’s fighter, able to box or to brawl, in running up his 49-6, 34 knockouts Hall Of Fame record, including world titles in three divisions. It was because of his versatility that he is able to claim to being the last man to beat Pinoy Idol Manny Pacquiao (you could look it up, it happened on March 19, 2005).
I spoke to the still fresh-faced but now age 33 Morales Tuesday afternoon at the nifty, new Red Bulls soccer stadium, in view of downtown Newark and in the flight path of Newark Airport.
Morales was making a rare East Coast visit to pump his Sept. 11 Mexico City “Mexican Fiesta” main event at the historic La Plaze Monumental (bull ring) in the capital.
Promoters, including old friend and Jorge Paez “inventor” Nacho Huizar, have wisely handpicked lighthitting Scotsman Willie Limond (laughingly known as “Fists Of Steel” although he did floor Amir Khan) as Morales designated victim.
Besides Pacman, Morales also owns victories over such luminaries as great rival Marco Antonio Barrera, Paulie Ayala, Wayne McCullough, Junior Jones, Carlos Hernandez, Guty Espada Jr. (twice), Daniel Zaragoza and Kevin Kelly.
Morales answered every question put to him by myself and other scribes in a thoughtful, engaged manner and he seemed to take some witty jabs at various ring stars along the way.
So here’s “El Terrible” Unplugged:
On MANNY PACQUIAO:
“I would like to fight him again but I am not obsessed with him. I am working to get back to the top, back where I was before, to be top of the plateau. I have a six fight plan and this is my second one.
“I will say Manny is a great fighter but I look back and he would give me any weight allowance in our second and third bouts when they knew I couldn’t make 130 pounds. Pacquiao demanded weight penalties of $500,000 for each pound.
(For the record, Morales made 129 ½ pounds for his UD 12 over Pacman and then really strained to make 128 ½ for his TKO by 10 loss and 129 ½ when he got waxed in three rounds.)
“But, when I was right and when I was at proper weight in the first fight (he got stopped in 10 rounds and then in three in their second and third bouts) I showed who the better fighter was then.
“I was the superior fighter and I had the edge in speed and in skills and I beat him in every department.”
Btw, all three judges favored Morales 115-113 in that bout.
I can only view the use by Morales of the term “obsession” as a sly dig at his countryman and bitter loser to Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez.
MORE TO COME FROM MEXICAN ICON ERIK MORALES ON PACQUIAO, ON BARRERA, ON JC CHAVEZ JR. AND ANOTHER PACMAN MEXICAN FOE, JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ.