Erik Morales, Chris John returning to the ring in December

A couple of fights have come up that hold some interest, both more because of what they could lead to than the fights themselves.

Notifight reports that long-time WBA featherweight titlist Chris John will return after over a year off on December 1, facing Fernando Saucedo in an optional defense of his belt. The winner will take on Yuriorkis Gamboa. We've been over the absolutely ludicrous WBA featherweight title situation enough, but if you've not been keeping track or if you're sane and don't pay attention to who holds what worthless piece of cheap leather and tuna can metal these days, the long story made short is that the WBA currently has somewhere between three and 17 featherweight "champions."

John (43-0-2, 22 KO) earned some overdue praise for coming to the States last year and facing Rocky Juarez twice, with most feeling he deserved the nod in both contests rather than just their September rematch. In February 2009, Juarez received a draw in his hometown of Houston, rallying late to bring himself back into an entertaining bout.

But with Saucedo, he's back to facing the sort of competition that had him criticized for years as a guy who was holding a belt hostage. Saucedo (38-4-3 ,1 KO) has no power whatsoever and has never beaten anyone. He really has no business fighting for a belt of any kind, but then that's boxing for you. The WBA has him ranked 15th, so they signed off on the bout, which will take place in Bali, Indonesia. This will mark the fourth time that Saucedo has left Argentina for a fight. In his other trips abroad, he drew against Ivan Fiorletta in Italy; was disqualified against Nedal Hussein in Australia; and lost a hugely lopsided 10-round decision to Acelino "Popo" Freitas in Brazil. The Freitas bout was his last venture outside of his home country, and that came in 2004. Since then he's beaten a bunch of cans in Argentina.

* * * * *

The other bout that's on tap is a December 18 fight between Erik Morales and Jorge Barrios, which is a lot more interesting than John-Saucedo. Notifight says that the fight could happen at an agreed-upon weight of 138 pounds, as Morales continues to try and gradually work his way down to the 135-pound limit for a potential 2011 fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.

Morales (50-6, 35 KO) ended a retirement from 2007 earlier this year when he came back as a blown-up welterweight to defeat Jose Alfaro in Monterrey, and followed that with a win over Willie Limond in September. The WBC has backed Morales' comeback to almost hilarious levels, putting up one of their minor trinkets for the fight against Alfaro, and awarding Morales the silver title at 140 pounds for beating Limond, despite the fact that the reported contracted weight limit for that fight was 141, and both fighters weighed in at 143. He will defend that belt against Barrios (50-4-1, 35 KO), who was last seen by most in the States losing to Rocky Juarez at 130 pounds in September 2008.

Barrios has had some legal troubles in Argentina since then, but has also gone 3-0 as a lightweight, beating Moises Castro, Michael Lozada and Wilso Alcorro. Given how far past his prime Morales is, Barrios is a dangerous opponent. While Barrios is no junior welterweight, neither is Morales, so "El Terrible" has no advantage just because Barrios is coming up in weight. Simply put, neither of them are in peak fighting condition as 140-pounders.

Barrios is a tough, rugged fighter who will almost surely have more to offer Morales than did feather-fisted Limond or Alfaro. It's no eye-popper, but it's the best fight Morales has taken to date in his comeback, and facing a guy as reckless and determined as Barrios usually is should give us a gauge of where he's really at.

One thing Morales has done right is take it slow and ease his way back into shape. He knows he's not a welterweight, and he probably knows he's not a junior welterweight either. He's aiming for lightweight, where he fought well against David Diaz in 2007. It's over his peak weight, but again, it's also over Juan Manuel Marquez's peak weight.

Morales-Barrios will take place in Tijuana.

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