By Joseph Santoliquito
Brooklyn, NY (CBS) — Nothing was going to impede the main event of Barclays Center’s boxing debut Saturday night. Not two failed drug tests by faded, shopworn former world champion Erik Morales, nor his lame excuse of eating contaminated Mexican meat as to why he failed the drug tests in the first place.
Danny Garcia, the reigning WBA/WBC and Ring Magazine junior welterweight (140-pound) world champion, wasn’t about to accept any reason why the fight shouldn’t take place. Philadelphia’s only boxing world champion had a career-high $1-million at stake if it didn’t.
Apparently, clenbuterol, a powerful fat-burning steroid, wasn’t enough to help Morales, because Garcia pummeled the aged Mexican legend. Morales crumpled under a perfectly timed counter left hook right on the chin that forced referee Benjy Esteves to immediately wave the fight over at 1:23 of the fourth round, before 11,112 at Barclays.
Garcia, 25-0 (16 KOs), made his second successful title defense, while the loss marked the second-straight setback from Garcia for Morales, 52-8 (36), a future Hall of Famer about six years past his prime.
Morales is now 4-7 over his last 11 fights, dating back to a September 10, 2005 loss to another Philadelphia fighter, Zahir Raheem, a former U.S. Olympian.
Morales, a little fleshy on his sides, was sluggish and slow at the outset. At 36, he no longer possessed the kind of speed to counter anything Garcia threw. Morales’ punches unfolded like a rusty crane. The sharper, crisper-punching Garcia foiled any semblance of offense Morales tried to mount.
At the end of the third, Garcia really hurt Morales with a looping right that caught him on the temple. Morales stumbled backward and didn’t know where he was, wobbling to Garcia’s corner. That set the stage for the fourth round, and Garcia’s pulverizing left hook.
The looming issue before the fight was if it was even going to take place. Morales had been heavy, about 25 pounds above the 140-pound weight limit about a month-and-a-half prior to the fight. During a Showtime photo shoot in Brooklyn in late-August to promote the fight. Morales refused to take off his blue silk Everlast robe, while the other fighters, Garcia included, had no issues at all.
Morales’ shabby shape was enough to stir Garcia’s father, the highly energetic, and volatile Angel Garcia, to publicly question whether or not they should even take the fight, considering Morales tested positive twice.
Finally, it was revealed a third test came back negative, but it was still up to Garcia whether or not he wanted to take the fight. Until the early-morning hours of Saturday, it was still up in the air, when Garcia’s team relented and decided and decided to move forward.
“Danny wanted to beat him, after Morales showed total disrespect to Danny the first time they fought,” Angel said. “Morales wouldn’t even shake Danny’s hand after the first fight. How his father [Jose, also Morales’ trainer] allowed him to fight, I don’t know. If it were my son, and he was in that condition that close to a major fight, I wouldn’t have allowed him to fight. How could he do that? Morales was just fighting for the money. That’s all he was fighting for.”
The victory marked Garcia’s third impressive victory this year, after decisioning Morales the first time they fought, March 24, and Garcia followed that up with his signature victory to date, smashing British superstar and former Olympian Amir Khan in four rounds on July 14.
“This was about proving a point, cheaters never win, and Morales tried to cheat his way by,” Angel Garcia said. “Danny wanted to punish him, that was the goal, use his youth and speed and beat this old guy who shouldn’t have been in the ring in the first place. Danny respected him too much the first time. We had no respect for him this time around.”