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Morales dismisses doubts, faces Maidana

Morales dismisses doubts, faces Maidana

Erik Morales is just about the only person in boxing who thinks it's a good idea for him to fight Marcos Maidana.
Although Morales is among the top Mexican boxers of his generation, nearly two decades in the sport have taken a physical toll on "El Terrible." He took 2 1/2 years off before beginning a comeback last year, and he hasn't been particularly impressive since.
Yet when negotiations fell apart with Juan Manuel Marquez, Morales decided he wanted to fight Maidana, the Argentine 140-pounder with the most vicious hands in a loaded division. The fight's promoters initially thought he was crazy, and so did others around Morales _ to say nothing of friends and media members who openly worried about his safety.
"After so many interviews, I am starting to say to myself, 'Was this the right decision?'" Morales said Thursday. "Am I the only crazy one that thinks I can win? When I am alone at night lying in bed, I start thinking to myself. I am not wrong. I didn't make a mistake picking Maidana. I am going to prove it to you guys on Saturday night. I am going to prove that I wasn't crazy."
With the quiet confidence of a three-division champion, Morales insists he'll thrive against the headfirst style favored by Maidana, who fell just short of stopping British champion Amir Khan in his last bout. They'll meet at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
The loaded card also features Robert Guerrero's meeting with Michael Katsidis for two lightweight interim belts, Paulie Malignaggi's bout with Jose Cotto, and fights for James Kirkland and Nate Campbell.
Maidana is a 7-1 betting favorite in Vegas, and Golden Boy Promotions faced a backlash for even putting Morales in the ring with him. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer shares those concerns, but ultimately bowed to the wishes of Morales and his father/trainer, Jose.
"People were worried about Bernard (Hopkins) when he came back, too," Schaefer said. "You just cannot count out these legends. Erik took some time off, and sometimes that's what it takes to rejuvenate. He and his father are very knowledgeable. They think they have the style to beat Maidana. They think he has flaws, but it took me a while to see their side of it. When they first proposed it, I said, 'Whoa. I'm not so sure about that one.'"
Maidana is becoming an international star for his daredevil style and ferocious athleticism despite losing two of his three biggest fights in the past two years. After getting edged by Andreas Kotelnik in a split decision in early 2009, he stopped Golden Boy star Victor Ortiz before his thrilling bout last December with Khan, judged by many as the top fight of 2010.
With a knockout win over Morales in boxing's capital city, Maidana could join Sergio Martinez as Argentina's top stars.
"For an Argentinian, headlining a fight in Las Vegas is a very special thing," Maidana said. "Sometimes I do not even realize how big it is for me. I will make Argentina proud on Saturday night."
Morales hasn't been on the rise for a long time.
He walked away after losing a decision to former champion David Diaz in 2007, saying he felt pain in his head with every shot. He had been fighting professionally since he was 16, and three losses in his previous four fights forced him to re-evaluate his priorities.
Morales blames much of his late-career failures on struggles to make weight, leaving him drained and distracted.
"The last few fights I had in my career, I kind of lost myself," Morales said. "I had accomplished so much and I kind of lost myself and I didn't have a goal or any direction, but with this fight here, I found myself again."
Morales said he doesn't need the money, unlike most boxers who make ill-advised comebacks. He owns a garbage collection service in his native Tijuana, a fairly busy boxing promotions company, and various real estate holdings that provide a steady rental income.
Yet few were surprised by Morales' comeback, since most fighters just can't stay away. Morales hasn't fought a contender during his past three bouts, saying he wanted his family and Mexican fans to see him _ particularly his young son, who's considering a boxing career.
"Basically, he looked like a fighter that was retired for two years, but that doesn't take away anything," Maidana said. "I'm prepared for the best possible Morales for this fight. I think it's going to be a tough fight. I'm expecting the Morales of old, the Morales when he was in his prime. That's what I'm training for."
Maidana also could be a bit changed: He swapped longtime trainer Miguel Diaz for veteran Rudy Perez shortly before camp after getting turned down by Nacho Beristain, Marquez's longtime trainer.
Morales believes he can frustrate Maidana with technical skill, erasing Maidana's physical advantages with veteran guile. Hardly anyone agrees with him, but Morales has done too much and traveled too far to doubt himself in a ring.
"I think his style is very good for my style," Morales said. "I can adjust very well to his style. For me in this fight, it was very important to have a goal, to be motivated. This fight has brought it out."


Updated : 2021-10-16 14:05 GMT+08:00