Erik Morales has given boxing fans a lot to love over his 19-year professional career, and now the Mexican star, who turns 36 tomorrow, says that if he can't beat Danny Garcia on October 20 in Brooklyn, he'll leave the sport.
"[If I lose I will] say goodbye to boxing. I'm in the home stretch of my career and I have the challenge of recovering my belt. It's an attractive confrontation and one that motivates me to prepare well," Morales said.
Morales (52-8, 36 KO) has done it all over the years -- great rivalries with Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao, titles at 122, 126, 130, and 140 pounds, numerous Fight of the Year-type wars. And it's no secret that he's nearing the end of his career. And he knows it, too.
Really, it's remarkable he got back to this level at all.
It's somewhat easy to forget now that back in 2007, when Morales lost a competitive, very entertaining fight to David Diaz at 135 pounds, he left the sport after four straight losses. His career had basically collapsed, as he went from a shocker loss to Zahir Raheem into two straight defeats against Manny Pacquiao (which were humbling-type losses, too), and then Diaz, a blue collar fighter who once would have been a near pushover for some with Morales' talent. And like that, Morales was gone.
Three years later, he was back, fighting and winning modestly against the likes of Jose Alfaro, Willie Limond, and Francisco Lorenzo. We scoffed, at least a little bit, at his soft, almost doughy physique. The rail-thin figure of the past had aged into a body that didn't look like that of a professional athlete in his early 30s.
And then he fought Marcos Maidana with one goddamn eye for 12 hellacious rounds, and it all came back to us. This was Erik Morales. El Terrible.
Morales lost in March against Garcia. It wasn't really remarkable. He was old. He looked old. He fought old. And yet there were moments where you could see that the younger Erik was still there. Take this bit, which is comedic in nature, but is an example of those flashes where clearly, he could still control the ring against Garcia:
Morales has been outspoken about Garcia. He doesn't feel that Garcia (24-0, 15 KO) is a special fighter. In his heart, Morales still feels he's the better fighter.
And that's why I believe he'd walk away if he can't beat Danny on October 20. If Morales can't beat a fighter he doesn't see as a special talent, then in his mind, what's the point anymore?
He just might have another night in him.