Juan Manuel Marquez-Erik Morales: Erik Morales's Engine

Jess Matthew BeltranCorrespondent IIJanuary 6, 2011

LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 21:  Erik Morales of Mexico sits in his corner before the 10th round of his fight against Manny Pacquiao of the Phillippines during their Super Featherweight Championship fight at Thomas & Mack Arena on January 21, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pacquiao knocked out Morales in the 10th round for the victory.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Erik Morales shadow boxes around the sweaty gym in Tijuana, Mexico. He was mimicking a silhouette of a younger self when his reflexes were quick and his power was overwhelming. His punches were short and crisp, making the wind wisp at each punch like a shot to the liver or jaw.

It’s still five months before Morales will get to fight a real one, however, he wanted to be in the top form when he starts his training. Like an old machine who needs a lot of conditioning before the engine starts running.

At 34-years-old, Morales is not that old but his body is. The battle scarred warrior fought a total of 171 fights with 57 as a professional and 114 when he was an amateur. He defeated 15 champions throughout his career. He fought two exciting trilogies with his nemesis Marco Antonio Barrera and boxing’s current pound per pound king Manny Pacquiao.

Those wars are surely taking its toll with Erik’s all out fighting style. He was always a crowd pleaser, an entertainer who is willing to die in the ring for the sake of people watching and getting their money’s worth.

Those power punches are still there. He can still hurt anybody with those looping shots. However, his reflexes are gradually getting slow. His mind is thinking of his next move but his body won’t cooperate that much anymore. He is already past his prime with his last and notable win was a unanimous decision against Manny Pacquiao way back in 2006.

Morales’s consolation would be he is fighting someone who is three years older. Juan Manuel Marquez fought 58 fights, including two exciting and closed fight against Pacquiao. Between him and Morales, he has the fresher legs, the quicker reflexes and the power to knock Erik out.

He last fought two younger fighters and dominated them in an astonishing fashion. He went to 12 full rounds against the bigger and faster Floyd Mayweather Jr. He doesn’t see Erik to be such a great threat. But it was a fight that he had to do. Long before everyone went to division hopping it was always the four great feather weights with Barrera, Marquez, Pacquiao and Morales. Each boxer fought each other except for Marquez, who failed to land a fight against Morales.

Erik knows it’s a long and tough road ahead. This is a make or break fight with the perfect exclamation to his famed career. His once granite jaw has already softened and his tolerance to pain has suddenly become minimal but boxing is always a risk and as long as his power is still there. There will always be a chance.

One punch can make a difference.

He will be gunning for history-to be the only Mexican fighter to win four different weight titles. This is his last and only chance.

Erik is covered with sweat. He stops and throws one solid punch in the air. Five months. That’s all he needs to get his engine running.