As the calendar prepares to turn over and 2013 arrives, the boxing world will reportedly be saying goodbye to one of its most beloved and respected warriors of the modern era, as Erik Morales says he'll stage a farewell fight in Tijuana in the first quarter of the year.
"I plan to retire in 2013 and stage my last bout in Tijuana in order to say goodbye in my homeland to the sport that I love. This is something very special for me. I want to give something back to the people who have always been there for me during my 20 years of being a professional."
Morales (52-9, 36 KO) went 0-2 in 2012, dropping a pair of fights to rising junior welterweight star Danny Garcia. In February, he was outpointed in Houston by Garcia, and returned in October for a pointless rematch that saw him knocked out in the fourth round on a big left hook (video). Morales, 36, looked out of shape, undersized, and old in both bouts, but gave his usual fearless effort, too.
His career also was rocked by scandals minor (missing weight for the first Garcia bout) and major (failing USADA drug tests until finally passing one before the rematch), which tainted his image at least a little bit, and the latter probably should taint it more than a little, but for as much talk of drug testing reform as there is, nobody really seems to take many of these failed tests seriously.
This would be the second retirement for "El Terrible," who first left the sport following a narrow 2007 loss to David Diaz in an attempt to win a lightweight title belt. He returned in 2010 and had a notable if short second career, shocking almost everyone with a highly competitive loss to Marcos Maidana in 2011, and winning a gift-wrapped title at 140 pounds later that year against Pablo Cesar Cano, in a fight that turned out to be an entertaining scrap on the Mayweather-Ortiz undercard.