- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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After welterweight Jorge Paez Jr. polished off Ivan Hernandez via seventh-round knockout in Mexicali, Mexico, on Nov. 13, Erik Morales stood in the ring with him during his postfight interview.
Morales, one of Mexico’s all-time greats, was there to challenge Paez to fight him next, and naturally, Paez, 26, accepted. It was all very WWE-like.
Now fast-forward a few months later and, yup, Paez (37-4-1, 22 KOs) will face the long-faded Morales, who won titles in four weight classes (even if the one at junior welterweight was as bogus as it gets).
They are slated to meet on March 22 in Monterrey, Mexico. Sean Gibbons of Zanfer Promotions told ESPN.com that the contract weight is supposed to be 144 pounds.
The fight is essentially a collision of two generations of Mexican fighters. In 1999, Morales (52-9, 36 KOs), a faded 37-year-old, fought on the same card as Paez’s father, former featherweight titlist Jorge Paez Sr. At the time, Paez Jr. was 11.
Morales has talked about fighting a farewell fight in his hometown of Tijuana, so it would seem that whatever happens with Paez Jr. it will not be his finale, unfortunately.
Morales has been a great champion, but he’s been done for a while. He has lost three of his past four fights: a decision in a much-better-than-expected performance against Marcos Maidana in 2011 followed by back-to-back losses to Danny Garcia in 2012, including missing weight for their first fight and getting stripped of his junior welterweight belt and a brutal fourth-round knockout in the second fight.
Of course, Morales disgraced himself before the second fight with Garcia when he failed multiple prefight USADA-conducted random drug tests. He tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol, but in a shameful act, the New York State Athletic Commission allowed the fight to go forward.
Morales was flattened in the fight and then banned by USADA, although the punishment carries no weight in Mexico, where Morales will fight on.