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Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales Is Terribly Overlooked
Juan Angel Zurita (August 3, 2004) 
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Erik Morales is the embodiment of a world-class warrior, his style a blend of skill, guts, courage, and machismo. Whenever he steps into the squared circle, you know you’re going to get your money’s worth. It’s practically guaranteed. That’s ‘El Terrible.’

However, despite his consistency at the world-class stage as a pound-for-pound pedigree fighter for seven years and counting, he’s often overlooked and underrated. Many boxing fans and so-called ‘boxing experts’ are enthralled by the badass Mexican, but they shortchange him when rating him amongst the world’s best. Morales doesn’t rate as highly on their lists because he almost always makes fights more difficult than they should be and he gets tagged more frequently than other top pound-for-pounders. In a nutshell, he doesn’t always win pretty and he’s frequently penalized for that.

The truth is that Morales doesn’t win as easily as other top pound-for-pounders on a more consistent basis because he’s consistently fighting world class fighters. Like many great fighters before him he has a tendency to fight to the level of his opposition, he ‘by choice’ opts to brawl rather than to box, and by opting to brawl he in exchange eats more leather than most top pound-for-pounders. But despite these supposed vulnerabilities, the man keeps on winning. And isn’t that what this game is all about?

Spanning three weight classes (junior featherweight, featherweight, super featherweight), Morales has picked up titles and notched victories over Hall of Famer, Daniel Zaragoza, Junior Jones, Wayne McCullough, Marco Antonio Barrera, In Jin Chi, Guty Espadas, Paulie Ayala, Jesus Chavez, and Carlos Hernandez. When he defeated Jesus Chavez earlier this year, he became only the second Mexican to win titles in three different weight classes, joining the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. His accomplishments speak for themselves. Clearly he’s proven that he’s one of the greatest Mexican fighters of all-time and one of the greatest fighters of his era. Yet less accomplished fighters are regularly ranked higher on pound-for-pound lists because their styles are more aesthetically pleasing or they hold ‘one’ big time win in recent times. Is that really fair? Doesn’t consistency and longevity against quality opposition count for something?

A few years ago after Vernon Forrest upset Shane Mosley, everyone and their mothers catapulted him into the top five on the mere basis of that huge victory. Some time later he stepped into the ring against Ricardo Mayorga and he was out of the top fifteen in a nanosecond. That is just one of many examples of fighters who have come and gone from the mythical pound-for-pound ranks over the years while Morales has gone about his business and universally maintained his top ten spot as quietly as can be done.

Perhaps Morales’ biggest thorn isn’t some of his performance’s lack of beauty but rather the fact that he isn’t American. America is grossly pompous and arrogant. We as a whole believe we’re the best at everything. That sentiment trickles from politics down to sports. If you aren’t American, you’re second best, particularly if you don’t speak our language. Sadly, those words express the thoughts of many Americans. Morales’ lack of just due is probably partially attributed to this ethno-nationalistic defect. Whatever the case may be, he hasn’t received the praise he greatly deserves.

On the heels of his impressive title unifying performance against Carlos Hernandez, it’s probably now the perfect time for the great little man from south of the border to turn it up a notch and step into the ring against a major threat to silence those who still have reservations about him. Sometimes great fighters need to step into the ring with a major threat in order to raise their game to a higher level, the late Salvador Sanchez the prime example. Sanchez was an exceptional fighter who had a tendency of fighting down to the level of his opposition and a reputation for stepping up to the plate against his more dangerous opponents. Morales could conceivably be the same type of fighter.

With all of his ring wars, Morales may only have a few solid years left in the tank and should now begin to heavily consider stepping into the ring against a Diego Corrales, Acelino Freitas, Jose Luis Castillo, or should I dare say, Floyd Mayweather Jr. He’d be the underdog in all of those fights, but they’re the type of fights that could possibly put him among boxing’s immortals, particularly if he adds a lightweight title along the way. Winning four titles in four different weight classes would put him in a distinguished class. Even his harshest critics would be silenced forever.

In the meantime, as the pound-for-pound debate rages on, the Morales faithful will continue to contend that his resume and credentials stack right up there with the best of them, and rightfully so. Morales is the quintessential personification of what most fighters strive to become. He’s a proven winner, a great fighter with a monster heart, a future first ballot hall of famer. He’s the total package wrapped up in its own unique fashion. That’s ‘El Terrible.’
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