Morales and Matthysse Meet the Press

By Robert Ecksel on August 18, 2011
“I showed everybody that not only can I say it," Morales said, "but that I can still do it.”

“The reason the Matthysse fight was decided was because he’s very strong, very formidable, in many eyes an undefeated fighter…”

In anticipation of the fight between Erik Morales (51-7, 35 KOs) and Lucas Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs) for the vacant WBC super lightweight title, on the undercard of the Sept. 17 Mayweather-Ortiz, the two fighters met with the press to discuss the upcoming bout, their respective opponent, and what we can expect when they step in the ring.

Morales is a boxing legend. He had his first fight in 1993 in Tijuana, and during his long and productive career he has established himself as the very embodiment of what it means to be a Mexican warrior. Morales won titles at super bantamweight, featherweight, and super featherweight. Not only that. He is also the the last man to defeat Manny Pacquiao.

During his 18 years of active duty, El Terrible has gotten it on with a veritable Who’s Who of terrific fighters at his weight, including Daniel Zaragoza, Marco Antonio Barrera, Junior Jones, Juan Carlos Ramirez, Wayne McCollough, Kevin Kelley, In-Jin Chi, Paulie Ayala, and David Diaz. Morales’ last fight was a disputed decision loss to tough-as-nails Marcos Maidana in April, which set up the big fight with Matthysse.

“I’m very happy and very excited to be fighting this next September 17th for the WBC lightweight title,” Morales told the press, “and I’m very excited to be doing it against a very good, very dangerous, very strong fighter like Lucas Matthysse. And one thing is for sure—that together we will provide fireworks, together we will provide a very good fight.”

Matthysse suffered two questionable split-decision losses, to Zab Judah in 2010 and Devon Alexander in 2011. Many wonder why he is returning to the U.S. considering the shabby treatment he received from the judges.

“Everybody knows that those two decisions against me were bad,” Matthysse said. “I know I won those fights. I was robbed in both those fights. When I was offered this opportunity, when the fight first came up, I was very happy to return to the United States to fight Erik Morales —and what better way than to be fighting than for a world title?”

Morales’ performance against Maidana surprised a lot of people. He has been in so many wars over so many years that many asked if he had anything left. Morales had lost four of his last seven fights before Maidana. That he competed with the Argentinean, albeit in a loss, suggested a reassessment was in order.

“The odds were 7-1,” said Morales. “Everyone thought I was going to get smashed and walked over. Maidana was very strong, very difficult. But I was always motivated. I always knew in my mind what I had to do in that fight. I showed everybody that not only can I say it, but that I can still do it. And I love proving people wrong. People always say, ‘Oh, Erik Morales is old.’ But when you do things right and you don’t cut corners, things turn out right and the result is there.

“The reason the Matthysse fight was decided was because he’s very strong, very formidable, in many eyes an undefeated fighter, and we’re always looking for challenges, we’ve always liked difficult fights. On paper, Lucas Matthysse looks very good. He’s had tough opponents. He’s a very strong, very young fighter. People always say they they’re going to finish me, they’re going to end my career, they’re going to knock me out. That gives me the hunger, the strength, and the motivation to prove them wrong and go in there and win.”

Comparisons between Matthysse and Maidana are inevitable. Not only are they both from Argentina, but they both will have fought Erik Morales.

“Maidana is a world champion,” said Matthysse. “At this moment, that’s the only difference between him and me. But in essence, I am better than him. There’s no doubt that Marcos is a big, big puncher. But his boxing, his style, is not classic, it’s ordinary. I am a more complete boxer and use the ring much more. There’s much more ring generalship.”

Morales’ last two fights in the States, against Maidana and David Diaz, were disputed decisions. Fans grow irate when this occurs, but fighters are philosophical.

“I cannot worry about the things that are not in my hands,” said Morales. “Did it bother me at one time about the bad decisions, about David Diaz and Marcos Maidana? Yes it did. I can’t deny that. But that’s in the past. I need to look forward, look at the present, and be ready for September 17th.”

Morales-Matthysse is for the belt Timothy Bradley lost due to inactivity. Originally, Matthysse was supposed to fight Jorge Barrios, but because of visa problems, he was replaced by El Terrible. Still, despite his illustrious past, not everyone thinks Morales deserves this shot.

“If there is concern,” said Morales, “if people criticize, hey, you know what? I won’t get upset. I’ll take it as it comes. But if they are giving me this opportunity because of my history, I think it’s a little valid, I’ve had very tough fights. But there’s one thing for sure. In every fight I gave it 100 percent. I’m always there to fight for the fans, and this is not going to be an exception.”

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