Mayweather and Morales, final_thoughts

By Tom Donelson, BASN boxing writer
Updated: September 18, 2011

Erik Morales

Erik Morales

IOWA CITY, IOWA, (BASN)—The big news from last Saturday night was Erik Morales victory in capturing his WBC version of the junior welterweight championship belt. This is significant for a talent driven division as Morales will add a popular attraction to supplement the young talent that fight in that division.

With the rise of Amir Khan, the junior welterweights feature a group of young talented fighters including Devon Alexander, Tim Bradley, Marcos Maidana, Lucas Matthysse and Lamont Peterson, so this is a deep division. Morales managed to get his title shot against Pablo Cesar Cano despite losing his last fight against Maidana by a close decision. Only in the world of boxing does a fighter loses a fight manages to get a title shot but if that fighter is a name fighter who can put seats in the arena; then he gets the nod. It is about the money.

Morales was once a great fighter and he will be in boxing Hall of Fame when he finally retires, but he is still a good fighter in a division with many potential Hall of Fame fighters. This division is filled of young fighters just entering their peak and Morales is closer to the end of his career; fighting at weight a few pounds north of his best fighting weight of 126 to 130 pounds. I remember seeing Morales getting pounded by David Diaz, a good but hardly hall of fame fighter as a lightweight a few years back. Now he has split two big fights against tough brawling fighters in the junior welterweight division. There were times against Cano, he looked old but near the end of the fight, he looked like the old Morales, chopping his opponent to pieces with his piston like jabs and sharp right.

The problem with Morales is that he doesn’t have much speed anymore and he is up against young fighters who are tough and fast. Khan and Alexander are fast and Bradley fights on your chest. Morales was lucky that Matthysse was ill for while Matthyssee is not blessed with speed but he is a tough fighter who is similar style in Maidana; only he has better techniques. Matthyssee two losses were close affairs that could easily be victories and he would have given Morales a hard time.

Morales does bring one thing, curiosity for many still want to see what he has left and certainly, he shows that belongs in the top ten but there is nothing to suggest that he could beat the top fighters of the division. He has already lost to Maidana but Maidana is not what one calls a technically sound fighter and Morales used his boxing skills to survive. Morales does bring one thing, money. Any of the top fighters who chose to fight him will get some big bucks and a possible PPV. Which leaves Tim Bradley, who chose not to fight a big fight against Khan to put himself in the Pacquaio sweepstake but now he is on the outside looking in, with his former title in Morales’ hand. Bradley might consider a fight against Morales not only to get his title back but it will bring in some big bucks.

Much has been made of Mayweather knockout of Ortiz. In my last column, I made the case that Mayweather knockout was legal but as Larry Merchant pointed out; could he have waited until Ortiz was ready? I can understand Mayweather lack of patience with Merchant since he answered Merchant question twice about the knock out but there is never a moment where yelling obscenity is called for. When Mayweather told Merchant to go interview Ortiz, he should have left it at that. Mayweather is one of those fighters who never caught boxing’s fan heart despite his skills. He is not an easy guy to like or root for and his outburst against Merchant will only add to his unpopularity. Mayweather lack of popularity and love among boxing fans has always made him the villain during big matches and often he was the second banana in big promotions. Look at most of his big fights, and it was the opponent who brought the fans to the arena. When he fought Oscar De La Hoya, it was De La Hoya who made the fight a PPV. When he fought Hatton, it was Hatton who made the fight a PPV. When he fights Pacquaio, it will be Pacquaio who brings the crowd and makes it a PPV.

There is no doubt about Mayweather skills, and the one fighter he reminds me of is Sugar Ray Robinson. I am not saying Mayweather is as great as Sugar Ray but both had similar skills for both could box and avoid getting hit but both could with one shot end a fight. They were the complete package and rarity among boxers; they could change their style to fit the opponent. Watching Robinson was like watching an artist for the ring was his canvas and there were times that he would go toe to toe and there were times that he moved and boxed; using his superior defensive skills to frustrate opponents. Mayweather is not Robinson, no one is but he showed the ability to end a fight against Ricky Hatton with one shot but there have been other fights where he simply seems satisfied to simply box his way to victory. The one fight that showed all of his skills was against Diego Corrales when he simply dominated Corrales while knocking him down several times.

Every one respect what Mayweather does in the ring, it is what happens outside the ring that infuriates boxing fans and pundits. Last Saturday night showed Mayweather at his self destructive worse.