Moving up to lightweight in an effort to win a fourth division title -- something no other Mexican fighter had ever done -- Erik Morales gave defending champion David Diaz the fight of his life. In the end, it was Diaz's relentless pressure that earned him the victory, as the champion won virtually all of the last rounds on the three scorecards. For posterity, the final tally of Erik Morales' 54-fight march to the Hall of Fame will read: 114-113, 115-113, 115-112, a unanimous decision for Diaz (33-1-1).
They say that every great fighter has one last great fight left in him, and the 30-year-old Morales proved that to be true. Morales (48-6) came into this fight after three straight losses, and few were expecting him to look like the fighter he was three years ago, when he was at the top of his game. But he did.
Using his jab to keep the fight in the center of the ring, Morales boxed and moved well, and was ahead on all three judges' cards after six rounds, 58-55 twice, and 59-55. But Diaz kept coming forward, and in the later rounds Morales' well-worn legs began to tire. Diaz took all six final rounds on two scorecards, and five of six on the other.
But unlike the sudden fade midway through his second fight with Manny Pacquiao last year, Morales fought gamely on, keeping every round close, especially the 10th and 11th, which could have gone either way.
"I won in the late rounds like I usually do," said Diaz, making the first defense of a title he won from Jose Armando Santo Cruz on a stunning 10th round TKO while behind on all three scorecards.
After the last bell he will ever hear inside a ring, the brave Mexican who fought the best and beat the best over a 14-year-career, made it crystal clear he was retiring.
"This is it," he said. "I'm not going to fight anymore. I've taken far too many punches, particularly in the head area. Punches to the head are really beginning to bother me."
Let it be said, Erik Morales gave as good as he got, and went out in style. The boxing world will miss him.
Posted 12:00 AM | Aug 4, 2007
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