DogHouse Boxing Breaks Down Morales/Hernandez
Juan Angel Zurita (July 29, 2004)
The fourth of July might be over three weeks old, but the fireworks continue. This Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, WBC super featherweight champion Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales will lock horns with IBF super featherweight champion Carlos ‘Famoso’ Hernandez in a card billed as ‘Unification’ which is sure to punctuate the end of the month with a rock ‘em sock ‘em machismo filled explosion. Morales once again looks to assert himself as one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters, while Hernandez seeks the biggest win of his career and all the accolades that compliment that brand of victory. With plenty riding on the line, both combatants are sure to bring their ‘A’ game.
Though Morales enters the bout as a comfortable favorite, this matchup will more than likely prove to be more difficult than the odds suggest. Hernandez brings in the physical makeup that has always troubled Morales. He’s a pesky, face first, pressure bulldog. Short mini-tanks like Wayne McCullough, Injin Chi, and Jesus Chavez all had success against the Mexican ring legend, and logic holds that Hernandez, another strong pressure fighter, will likewise have similar success. The question is whether his fate will be any different than those who’ve come before him. Perhaps a closer look at this matchup will give us the answer.
Profiling the Combatants
Erik Morales is one of boxing’s most exciting warriors and one of today’s best pound-for-pound fighters. He’s been a world class champion since 1997 and holds impressive victories over Hall of Famer Daniel Zaragoza, Junior Jones, Wayne McCullough, Marco Antonio Barrera, In-Jin Chi, Paulie Ayala, Guty Espadas, and Jesus Chavez. Earlier this year, he won the WBC super featherweight title, and became only the second Mexican to win titles in three different weight classes (junior featherweight, featherweight, and super featherweight), joining the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. Seldom in a dull fight, Morales can box or brawl, but it is the latter which has made him an extremely popular fighter. In most of his brawls, he has displayed a monster heart and a great will to win regardless of the adversity he may be up against. A victory over Hernandez is extremely important. If successful, he’ll unify the super featherweight division, but more importantly, it will set up bigger fights down the road which could ultimately enhance his place amongst boxing’s immortals.
Carlos Hernandez, is a tough, hard-nosed champion who has notched impressive victories over David Santos and former super featherweight champions, Goyo Vargas and Steve Forbes. In the United States, few outside of hardcore boxing fans know who he is, but in the impoverished land of El Salvador it’s a whole different story. There he’s considered a national hero and the country’s first ever boxing world champion. When Hernandez fights, the eyes of El Salvador are glued to his every move for he bears the country’s pride on his chest and shoulders. But at 33 years of age, Hernandez’s time is quickly running out. The Morales fight marks the defining fight of his career, the final opportunity to prove that he belongs amongst boxing’s elites. With the weight of six million strong rooting him on, Hernandez will be up for the challenge at full throttle.
Big Fight Break Down
Boxing Skills Hernandez is the shorter fighter and has a six inch reach disadvantage. He’s at his best when he’s up in his opponent’s grille throwing punches in bunches because he’s not a highly skilled boxer. Morales is a tall and rangy fighter with a good stiff jab whose boxing skills are often underrated because of his preference to brawl. His footwork and feints are among the best in the game today. When Morales decides to box, he should have the clear advantage.
Power Hernandez is a good volume puncher who doesn’t possess knockout power. He usually wins by outworking his opponents. Morales is a very good puncher with a solid right hand and vicious uppercuts. In his last fight against durable Jesus ‘El Matador’ Chavez, he proved that he could bring up his punch from the lower weight classes as he floored Chavez twice in the second round of their twelve round bout.
Defense Neither fighter is particularly known for boasting a great defense. Both can be hit, particularly Morales who often times falls asleep at the wheel. Tough call.
Speed Overall quickness belongs to Morales. His hands are a bit faster and his footwork and reaction time are a notch above Hernandez’s.
Chin Hernandez has shown some good whiskers throughout his career but he can be hurt. The same applies to Morales. On the other hand, unlike Morales, Hernandez has tasted canvas. He was knocked down last year against unheralded Moises Pedroza, the only time he’s ever visited the mat. Morales gets the nod for one reason. It’s hard to erase the memory of Hernandez getting seriously staggered by feather-fisted Steve Forbes.
Stamina Both athletes are well-conditioned and can go the full route without any major problems. Stamina has never been an issue in either corner.
Heart Not taking anything away from Hernandez, but Morales has proven his heart at a much higher level on a more consistent basis. Regardless of the adversity he may be up against, Morales always sucks it up and finds a way to come through. Hernandez also has a great heart. It’s just not as big as Morales’.
Experience Morales has faced more world class fighters, but Hernandez has faced the much better fighter. Hernandez has been in against Floyd Mayweather Jr., arguably the best fighter in the world today. That makes up for what he lacks in overall quality of opposition considering that he and Morales share almost an identical number of fights and rounds fought.
Keys To The Fight
- Keep the fight on the outside for as long as possible. You’re the taller fighter with the longer reach and superior boxing skill. Jab, jab, jab. Use your advantages to avoid making this fight more difficult than it needs to be.
- Walk Hernandez into your uppercut. If you can time him coming in, you could have a short night.
- While working on the inside, don’t focus too much on his head. Hernandez has a good chin and you’ve been known to have brittle hands. You’re better off investing in some body work that could pay off later in the fight.
- Be versatile and stay disciplined. Don’t always brawl. If you get tired in the pocket, jump out, and put your boxer hat on.
- Pressure, pressure, pressure. Everyone that’s had success against Morales has used pressure to lure him into a brawl.
- When you’re on the inside, be conscious of his uppercut. Keep a tight defense and smother him to avoid his incoming.
- Break him down to the body. Morales seems to fade in spurts in the latter rounds. Digging to the body early may prolong those spurts leading you towards great success down the stretch.
- Close the show strong. You’ll be in his house. He’s the favorite. Show the judges you deserve his title.
Judging by the aforementioned breakdown, this fight should be a one-sided affair. However, that’s not how boxing works. On print, Morales may hold most of the advantages, but there are many intangibles which favor Hernandez. It is these intangibles which could balance the scales.
- At super featherweight, Morales has knocked out a past prime Guty Espadas and outhustled a one-armed Jesus Chavez. Some will argue that he’s still unproven in his new weight class.
- Hernandez is clearly the stronger fighter. He’s been at super featherweight for over twelve years whereas Morales has only been there for two fights.
- How bad does Morales want it? Morales has been an elite fighter since 1997 and has been in multiples wars. Will they eventually catch up to him in this fight?
On the flipside:
- This will be Morales’ third fight at 130. He might finally be acclimated at 130 which would translate into him coming in stronger and more powerful. That definitely would be bad news for Hernandez.
- For years, people have been saying that Morales is a fighter on the slide. Could it just be that he has a great tendency to fight down to the level of his opposition?
Taking Morales’ past ring history into account, logic concludes that Hernandez’s style will pose several problems for him. But logic isn’t always entirely on par. Hernandez may not be as durable as some of the fighters Morales has faced. That remains to be seen. This writer suspects that he’s a slight notch below Morales’ last opponent, Jesus Chavez. Thus, Hernandez should be game throughout the fight, but a step behind the more powerful and much younger ‘El Terrible.’ If Morales doesn’t catch Hernandez with a right hand bomb and finish him off with the uppercut within eight, Hernandez will go on to lose courageously ala Paulie Ayala. Either way, Morales will prove to be too tough and powerful for the Salvadorian warrior.
Erik Morales via TKO 10
Rafael Marquez will attempt to make the third defense of his IBF bantamweight strap against tough challenger and fellow compatriot Heriberto Ruiz. Ruiz is no slouch and he’ll be there to win. Should Marquez loses focus or gets sloppy, we could potentially see an upset. If he stays focused, which is the more likely scenario, he’ll starch Ruiz within 7.
Like Marquez, Ivan Calderon, of Puerto Rico, will attempt to make the third defense of his WBO Strawweight title when he faces former IBF strawweight champion Roberto Leyva. This matchup would’ve been one to watch a few years ago, but now that Leyva is past prime, Calderon should have no problems boxing circles around him. Considering Leyva’s wear and tear, Calderon could potentially stop him despite him not being a big puncher. However, the more likely outcome is Calderon on points.
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