Retirement not on Morales’ mind

- Joaquin M. Henson () - January 26, 2007 - 12:00am
Retirement isn’t an immediate option for three-time world boxing champion Erik Morales who has unfinished business in the ring.

During his recent visit to the country, Morales told The STAR he is definitely fighting again but declined to name his next opponent.

Morales, 30, said he is determined to become the first Mexican fighter to win four World Boxing Council (WBC) titles in different divisions. At the moment, Morales and Julio Cesar Chavez share the distinction of being the only Mexican fighters who have won three WBC championships in three weight classes. Marco Antonio Barrera has also won three titles in different divisions but only two are recognized by the WBC.

Morales’ confidant Jorge Quezada named interim WBC lightweight titleholder David Diaz as the likely opponent even as the Chicago southpaw was reported by the website boxrec.com to be staking his crown against Acelino Freitas of Brazil on April 28.

Quezada said Morales will move up to the lightweight class in search of the elusive fourth WBC title.

"It will be held in April or May in Chicago," said Quezada. "The title will be at stake. That’s the way Erik wants it. If he loses, then he’ll probably retire. But you can bet he’s not going to lose. When he wins, I expect him to make two or three defenses before he’ll consider retiring."

It appears the WBC will sanction the Diaz-Morales bout as a title fight. Last Jan. 19, the WBC announced that its regular lightweight champion Joel Casamayor will face Freitas for the title of "another organization." That will likely mean stripping Casamayor of WBC recognition. For his part, Freitas confirmed he is fighting Casamayor, clearing the way for Morales to take on Diaz.

Morales lost his last fight to Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas last November but a source close to the Mexican said "El Terrible" was not at full strength because of a draining weight reduction program imposed by nutritionists.

"Morales was not allowed to eat any solid food for one to two weeks before the fight," said a source. "His intake consisted exclusively of pills and water. I don’t think the nutritionists did a good job of preparing him for the fight and they were paid $200,000 for their work. They got Morales to make the weight but it took out all his energy and strength."

The source said with Morales moving up to lightweight, he’ll be back at full strength.

"We’ll see the real Morales come out fighting again," said the source. "He even told me if he has to fight Casamayor, he’ll beat him with just one hand."

Diaz, 30, has compiled a 32-1-1 record, with 17 KOs, since turning pro in 1996. He stopped Jose Armando Sta. Cruz in the 10th round to claim the WBC interim crown last August. His only loss was a thriller in February last year when he was stopped by Kendall Holt in the eighth round. Diaz was down in the first round and floored Holt in the seventh.

Quezada said Morales has been approached by Filipino promoters about the possibility of fighting in Manila. If Morales wins the WBC lightweight title, he may defend the crown here.

Morales initially planned his next fight to be in Tijuana but gave in to Diaz as the defending champion who has a big fan following in Chicago. A source intimated that Morales has ruled out Las Vegas as a site for future fights.

Morales’ wife Andrea and Quezada enjoyed their first visit to the country and plan on returning as early as next month.

A source said Morales was enthralled by the Filipino hospitality and the fans’ show of adulation. Morales and his wife were even given expensive watches, valued at over P1 million, by a couple here.

"They made a lot of Filipino friends," said a source. "Erik is being offered to endorse several products, including a car and a cellphone. His popularity is incredible. He was mobbed everywhere he went. He’s even planning to pay his own way back to Manila. That’s how much he likes it here."

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