36-year-old Erik Morales told Showtime tonight after his fourth round knockout loss to Danny Garcia that he would never again fight in the United States, and that he would take a retirement bout in his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico, before calling it a career.
Morales (52-9, 36 KO) was out of his depth with the younger, stronger, faster, and better Garcia (25-0, 16 KO) tonight in Brooklyn, knocked out hard on a left hook he never saw coming. It was a painful performance to watch, really, especially for any long-time Morales fan. He just had clearly hit the wall in fights at this level, and it seemed obvious from the get-go. He didn't look good, didn't fight well, and got knocked out for his troubles.
But if Morales has earned anything -- and he's earned plenty -- it's the right to go out how he chooses. If he wants that final fight in his hometown, to thank his fans and say goodbye to them in the ring, then he should take it, make sure it's safely matched, and go out on his own terms.
What we don't need to see happen is the unfortunately predictable: Morales to win a swan song, then get tempted by money or a title shot or whatever, and fight on. He's old, older even than his age in ring years, and he's given everything he can to this sport. He's been a great fighter, a respectable fighter, and a guy you'll want to remember. One last hometown fight can't damage the legacy, but anything more than that, and he's really risking going out badly, in many ways.
Hopefully, it's just one-and-done. And whenever that Tijuana fight happens, I'll be watching.