Losing to Antonio De Marco in his last bout, a big puncher and former WBA lightweight titleholder, Nicaragua's Jose ''Jicara'' Alfaro, 23-6 (20) with one no-contest, faced living legend Erik “El Terrible” Morales, 49-6 (34), on Saturday night, losing a competitive 12-rounder on the Sports Integrated PPV, in front of a packed arena in Monterrey, Mexico.
Accompanied to the ring with a couple of professional Mexican wrestlers and celebrated Mexican TV clown, ''Cepillín,''
the 33-year-old Morales, although not looking cut-up in the midsection, looked strong.
Alfaro went to the body early on in the first round, with a slow-looking Morales trying to counter with mixed results.
Morales picked up the pace in the second round, measuring Alfaro behind jabs and landing crisp right hands to the face. Continuing the tempo in the third, Morales would show flashes of his old self; spearing jabs, slipping shots and landing uppercuts on the inside while keeping the fight at his distance, he won the round.
Alfaro tried hard, yet unsuccessfully, to land haymakers from the outside.
The Nicaraguan did a better job in the fourth, landing body shots while backing up the Mexican great.
Calling the open scoring (39-37 on all cards for Morales) between rounds fired up the Tijuana fighter and he went after his foe, cutting him over the right eye with a left hand, clearly bothering him. Morales stayed on the injured fighter, with the crowd coming alive throughout the round.
Biding his time, Morales measured Alfaro in the sixth and seventh rounds, looking sharper on the counter, blocking shots, trading furiously with a determined Alfaro midway into the seventh.
''Don't trade too much on the inside; he might land a bomb,'' Morales's father and trainer would tell his charge in between rounds.
Morales controlled the eighth, after Alfaro's cut opened up again late in the round, Morales would land jabs from the southpaw stance by round's end.
Alfaro would take the ninth, as Morales concentrated on too much defense, with the offensive-minded Nicaraguan doing most of the effective work.
Looking a bit tired, entering the championship rounds, Morales would stand on the inside, trading body shots and uppercuts on mostly even terms, although Alfaro closed strong.
Despite some flashy combinations in the 11th by Morales, Alfaro's cleaner punches and effective aggression gave the Nicaraguan the round.
With a sense of urgency in the air, in an all-out action final round, Morales put up a great display, slipping, landing combinations and sharp right hands, jabbing away at a bloody Alfaro, who tried hard to match the action.
The bell sounded off unusually at two-minutes to cut the action early, sending the fight to the score cards.
Scores were 117-111, 116-112 (twice) all for Morales who nets the WBC International welterweight title.
After the two-and-a-half year lay-off, Morales stated after the fight that he needed to work on some things, perhaps tightening his abdomen. His body responded well and admitted he needed to work on going down in weight before fighting a better caliber of opposition.
Henry Stops Garay in One
In a WBA light heavyweight eliminator, top ranked Argentinean Chris Henry, 25-2 (20), would be tied up by Hugo Hernan ''Pigu'' Garay, 32-5 (17), late in the first round. Punching with his free right hand, Henry would crack Garay with a shot to the jaw buckling his knees; a small push would send Garay down hard on the canvas. His lights out, Garay failed to get up with the referee calling the fight off at 2:25 of the round.
Pandemonium ensued with Garay's people pushing and almost punching the referee thinking their fighter had been wronged.
Henry will now get a crack at the WBA light heavyweight belt held by Beibut Shumenov.
Rodriguez Stops Bispo in Two
Heavyweight David ''Nino'' Rodriguez, 33-0 (31), of Juarez Mexico, steamrolled over Brazilian southpaw Daniel Bispo, 22-13 (16) in two.
Using heavy non-stop body shots, Rodriguez set up and dropped his foe in the first round with a left hook to the chin. The action continued in the second round with another knockdown, with referee John Schorle stopping the beat down at 1:50 of the round.
Morales Remains Undefeated Against Hernandez
Erik Morales' younger brother, the flyweight southpaw Ivan ''Terriblito'' Morales, 5-0 (3), had his hands full against Eduardo Hernandez, 0-1, in a four-round bout. Morales looked gassed in the final round, as the late replacement in Hernandez came on strong.
Scores were 39-37 and 40-36 (twice) all for Morales.
Salguero Blows Out Lopez in One
Flyweight Felipe Salguero, 11-2-1 (8), knocked out Noe Lopez, 5-1 (3), with a shot to the body at :50 of the first round.
Gandara Decisions Cortez in Four
Flyweight Cesar Gandara, 7-1 (2), fought a fun four-rounder contest against Salvador Sanchez look-alike Irving Cortez 1-7.
The scores read 40-36 on all cards for Gandara,
Gutierrez Halts Sanchez in Three
Featherweight Andres Gutierrez moved his record to 10-0 (8) by battering Enrique Sanchez, 5-4 (2), through three rounds, with a standing stoppage handed by the referee at :50 into the round.
Sanabria Stops Olvera in Two
In the first fight of the PPV telecast, super featherweight Alex ''Flaquito'' Sanabria, 24-0-1 (19), halted Adrian Olvera, 1-4 (1), with a liver shot at 2:45 in the second round.