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Erik Morales vs. Jesus Chavez: A Closer Look
Feb 24, 2004 By Brent Hedtke
If you've been suffering through the arctic-like climates of this years'
Midwestern extravaganza we call "winter," the scorching hot action of this
weekend's WBC Super Featherweight title bout will be a welcome combatant to
your wind burned face and frost bitten toes. Generally we have to wait
until the Fourth of July to see these types of fireworks, but this Saturday
boxing fans will have their dreams driven to the prom in a pink limo when
Erik "El Terrible" Morales and Jesus "El Matador" Chavez square off for
Chavez's WBC 130 lb. strap.

Morales (45-1 34 KO's), widely regarded as one of the world's pound for
pound best fighters, will be fighting for only the second time at the Super
Featherweight limit and he will have his hands full with the rugged champion
Chavez (40-2 28 KO's). As if that weren't enough to nip away at Jack
Frost's heels, the undercard features red hot Puerto Rican prospect Miguel
Cotto (18-0 15 KO's) squaring off against crafty veteran Victoriano Sosa
(37-3-2 27 KO's).

In boxing, many fighters' names will be linked for eternity. Names like Ali
and Frazier, Graziano and Zale, Gatti and Ward and undoubtedly Erik Morales
and Marco Antonio Barrera. Their epic February 2000 battle, in which
Morales escaped with a controversial razor thin split decision, will go down
as one of the Greatest of this Era. The rematch some two and a half years
later yielded nearly identical results, this time in the favor of Barrera.

Since that fateful encounter, Morales has been living in the shadows of his
Mexican counterpart. Never quite receiving the type of fan fare that
Barrera has, Morales has been consistently ranked in the top ten in the
world on nearly every pound for pound list, albeit behind Barrera. The only
way for "El Terrible" to step ahead of his archrival was a rubber match with
Barrera, something that was looking more and more likely until November of
this past year.

Enter Manny Pacquiao. The tough Philippine battered Barrera for 11
one-sided rounds and put any chance of a Barrera/Morales III in serious
doubt. Not only did this hurt Morales financially, but it sent him looking
for new opponents to prove his greatness and earn his place in the hearts
and minds of the fans, a place once occupied by Marco Antonio Barrera.

It is hard to believe that with a resume like his, Morales has not been
awarded to the accolades that many lesser fighters of his era have. Like
that great, smiling savior of hair-metal Jon Bon Jovi once said "I've seen a
million faces and I've rocked them all," the same holds true for Morales
whose hit list reads like a who's who of past and present champions. With
wins over Barrera, Wayne McCullough, Kevin Kelley, In Jin Chi, Paulie Ayala
and Guty Espadas, his quest for worldwide recognition has not been for lack
of trying. With Barrera out of the way for right now, Morales will get his
chance to take center stage in the lighter weight classes with a victory
over Jesus Chavez on Saturday.
Jesus Chavez has led a nomadic existence for most of his life, bouncing from
Mexico to Chicago to Texas and back. His struggles outside the ring are
reflected by his no-nonsense, face-first style inside of it. He is known by
most as "El Matador," or for those who didn't pay attention in high school
Spanish class, "The Bullfighter." While this classic alias is suitable for
the WBC Super Featherweight Champion, he fights more like the bull than the
matador and generally impales his overmatched opponents with his wide
arsenal of fistic abilities.

With his August, 2003 victory over Sirimongkol Singmanasak, Chavez captured
the WBC 130 lb. title that Floyd Mayweather, JR. kept from him two years
earlier in one of his only two career losses. Chavez came out guns a
blazing against Singmanasak (43-2) and scored a wide unanimous decision
against his Thai opponent.

Since then he has been weighing his options in a division that is home to
world class fighters like Joel Casamayor, Diego Corrales, Carlos Hernandez,
Steve Forbes, Mike Anchondo and many more. He has chose to take on arguably
the toughest of all of them in Morales and a victory would cement his place
amongst the elite of the division.

In order for that to happen, Chavez will have to fight at a much more
measured pace than he is used to. His chomping-at-the-bit style will only
play directly into Morales game plan. He will need to use his fast hands to
jab and stay outside of Morales' early rushes. If he can get past the first
few rounds without wearing himself out, he stands a better chance of keeping
enough in the tank to wear down Morales late. His toughest fight may be
against himself, as he will no doubt want to stand and trade with Morales,
which could be a very costly mistake.

With his 3rd round KO over Guty Espadas last October, Morales showed that
his power has followed him up to the 130 lb. ranks. He is the smarter boxer
of the two, but he also may have the heavier hands. Morales cannot let
Chavez determine the pace of the fight or he could be in for a long night.
He will have to stay off the ropes and do his dirty work on the inside of
the ring. This is where the fight will be won and if you ask me Morales'
experience will see him through.

This one definitely could go either way and many people are picking Chavez
in an upset. I, on the other hand, would have to go with Morales by late
round TKO when he finally catches up with the busier Chavez. Whatever the
outcome though, get you VCR's ready because you will want to watch this one
over and over.

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