By Chris Robinson
When Erik Morales announced in late 2009 that he would be making a comeback to the sport of boxing, his return was met with mixed emotions. While surely proven on a world class level, Morales had looked a bit worn during his latter fights and was last seen in August of 2007 losing a decision to Chicago’s David Diaz, a fighter who likely wouldn’t have had a great chance had Morales been at his peak.
Based out of Las Vegas and having worked with Top Rank for several years, respected trainer and cut man Miguel Diaz was with Morales during his glory days at 122, 126, and 130 pounds before the two men went in separate directions following the Diaz defeat. While always holding Erik close to his heart, Diaz admits that he too was unsure about the Tijuana fighter’s ambitious foray back into boxing.
“He [retired] and then we went our different ways and I didn’t work with him,” Diaz reflected recently. “I was wishing him the best but at the beginning I was kind of skeptical like anyone else. But eventually he was right 100% about him fighting again.”
In 2010 Morales carved out victories of former champion Jose Alfaro, England’s Willie Limond, and awkward Dominican Francisco Lorenzo to get himself back in the game. He fought a spirited battle with Marcos Maidana in April, losing a close decision in a fight that many felt he would get blown away in, and just last weekend he could be seen winning a title in his fourth weight class with a 10th round TKO over game but outmatched Pablo Cesar Cano inside of the MGM Grand.
Morales plans to have a busy 2012 campaign and has already been calling for some big names, but Diaz is happy to hear that he will be taking a few months off before rushing back into things.
“I read something the other day that made me very happy,” Diaz shared. “He said he would fight somebody in March. In other words, he is going to take some time off, which is what I was hoping to hear he was going to do, to heal from the Maidana fight and from this fight. I don’t have numbers I can call or anything like that but through you I say my congratulations and I’m glad to see him win a fourth championship.”
Diaz reckons that he worked with Morales for about five years and that Erik was typically a ‘quiet, down-to-earth kid’. Despite Morales being in the spotlight for his memorable trilogies with Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao, Diaz went back a bit further when asked to share a special moment of his with ‘El Terrible’.
“As a matter of fact, when he became a champion and he beat [Daniel] Zaragoza, I asked his permission, and you can watch the tape, I said ‘Erik, to the body, to the body. Right hand to the body’. And he actually finished it with a beautiful right hand to the solar plexus and when Zaragoza went down he didn’t even wait for the referee to count,” Diaz said with fondness of Morales’ first world title effort in September of 1996.
Not wanting to dampen the mood but still feeling the need to point out the obvious, I asked Diaz if he felt that Morales’ latest championship was tainted in his eyes because of the fact that the WBC blatantly stripped the belt’s prior champion Timothy Bradley for no apparent reason other than to make way for a Morales coronation. Respectfully, Diaz didn’t feel the need to touch on the issue.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t get into the politics of the different organizations. It’s not my cup of tea. I don’t say whether they are right or wrong; it doesn’t make a difference to me. Every organization has their own rules and their own disposition to act with the fighters and the titles. It doesn’t affect me.”