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Erik Morales

The pride of Tijuana, Erik Morales has epitomized the heart and skill of the Mexican warrior for 18 years, and at 35, the legendary future Hall of Famer known as “El Terrible” believes he still has plenty to offer the boxing world.
A winner of world titles at super bantamweight, featherweight, and super featherweight, Morales’ resume reads like a Who’s Who of the best of this era, with his list of victims including Daniel Zaragoza, Junior Jones, Wayne McCullough, Kevin Kelley, In-Jin Chi, Paulie Ayala, Jesus Chavez, and Carlos Hernandez. The last man to defeat Manny Pacquiao, which he did in their first of three bouts, in 2005, Morales is best remembered for his classic trilogy with Marco Antonio Barrera, a rivalry which captivated a nation.
Morales’ story began in the Zona Norte section of Tijuana. The son of a former professional boxer, Jose Morales, young Erik began lacing up the gloves at the age of five, and by the time he was in his mid-teens, he had accumulated 108 amateur wins (against only six losses) and 11 titles.
Yet his true destiny was in the professional boxing ring, and at 16, he debuted with a second round knockout of Jose Orejel on March 29, 1993. Morales took to the pro game like a fish to water, and by his 13th fight, he had won the WBC Mundo Hispano super bantamweight title with a third round TKO of 44-9-1 Jose Valdez on December 19, 1994.
Three wins later, Morales decisioned Juan Luis Torres over 12 rounds to take the NABF title at 122-pounds, and all of a sudden, “El Terrible” was in the world title picture.
In 1995 and 1996, Morales defended his NABF belt against Alberto Martinez (TKO4), Kenny Mitchell (TKO2), Rudy Bradley (TKO11), Hector Acero Sanchez (W12), and Pedro Torres (KO2), setting up a September 6, 1997 bout against countryman and WBC super bantamweight champion Daniel Zaragoza. In one of the best bouts of the year, Zaragoza gave as good as he got in defense of his crown until the younger and stronger Morales knocked him out in the 11th round and began a new era in boxing.
Morales was a rarity as a world champion, as he defended his title often against all comers. In his first two years with the WBC belt, he defeated John Lowey, Remigio Molina, Jose Luis Bueno, Junior Jones, Angel Chacon, Juan Carlos Ramirez, Reynante Jamili, and Wayne McCullough. But the biggest bout was yet to come, as February 19, 2000 marked his first bout with countryman and heated rival Marco Antonio Barrera. After 12 memorable rounds, Morales pounded out a split decision win to add the WBO belt to his collection, and the win elevated him from champion to superstar.
Post-Barrera, Morales continued to build his legacy by winning the interim WBC featherweight title against Kevin Kelley and defending that belt against Guty Espadas Jr., and In-Jin Chi. On June 22, 2002, the rematch everyone wanted to see came to fruition as Morales and Barrera met again. This time, it was Barrera switching up his style to outbox and decision Morales, and the Tijuana native’s first pro loss was a crushing one.
Refusing to dwell on the defeat, Morales was back in the ring five months later, and he regained the WBC featherweight belt with a 12 round win over Paulie Ayala on November 16, 2002. After two successful defenses over Eddie Croft and Fernando Velardez, Morales moved up to 130 pounds in late-2003, and after a title elimination bout win over Espadas Jr., he won a third divisional championship when he decisioned Jesus Chavez for the WBC super featherweight belt on February 28, 2004.
In July of 2004, Morales defeated Carlos Hernandez to add the IBF 130-pound title to his WBC belt, and on November 27, 2004, he met up with Barrera a third time. Again, Barrera pulled out a 12 round decision, taking a final 2-1 lead in their trilogy.
It could have been a sign for Morales to take his foot off the gas and take some easier fights, but just four months later, on March 19, 2005, he fought Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao and defeated the “Pac Man” via 12 round unanimous decision.
Unfortunately, this was Morales’ last great win for a while, as he lost four consecutive bouts against Zahir Raheem, Pacquiao (twice), and David Diaz from 2005 to 2007. Following the Diaz bout, Morales took a nearly three year break from the game in order to recharge his batteries.
In 2010, fighting at welterweight and then junior welterweight, Morales returned and showed his championship form in wins over Jose Alfaro (W12), Willie Limond (KO6), and Francisco Lorenzo (W12).  That trilogy of wins set the stage for one of boxing’s most highly anticipated showdowns as Morales faced Marcos Maidana for the vacant WBA world junior welterweight crown on April 9, 2011 in Las Vegas.
In that bout with the free swinging Maidana, fans were treated to a Fight of the Year candidate as Morales turned back the clock and showed that he had plenty left to offer as he went to war with his opponent for 12 fast-paced rounds.  In the end, Maidana eked out a close majority decision win, but on September 17, “El Terrible” returns to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to take on former world champion Jorge Barrios as part of the most explosive fight card of 2011, “STAR POWER: Mayweather vs. Ortiz” pay-per-view extravaganza.