In Their Words: Erik Morales
Erik Morales, a former three-division champion and future Hall of Famer, was labeled a shot fighter after four consecutive losses that sent him into retirement in 2007. But following his return to the ring in 2010, initially as a welterweight, he built himself back up in a series of lower-level fights before acquitting himself astonishingly well in a decision loss to Marcos Maidana in April, which some believed should have been scored a draw or a win for Morales. Next, "El Terrible" will test himself against the prime and well-respected Lucas Matthysse for a vacant junior welterweight title Sept. 17 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas as part of the stacked Victor Ortiz-Floyd Mayweather Jr. card (HBO PPV). But first, Morales will discuss an array of topics as part of an ongoing feature leading up to the fight.
On what it means to fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend:
Honestly, I feel a little bad because Sept. 1 is the day of my birthday, and regularly fighting on Mexican Independence Day, I have to train and logically I can't celebrate with my family.
However, since this is a very important date for Mexicans, I also hope to celebrate with a victory on Sept. 17, because I want to win my fourth championship in four divisions.
On what he bought with his first big check:
The first thing I bought when I captured my first world belt was a few computers for the school where I studied in Tijuana, Baja California. For me, it was a great satisfaction to do that. It was certainly one of the best things I've done -- and it was thanks to the world title.
On what TV shows he watches to relax after a long day of training:
I love a lot of films that [teach you something]. The romantic films are some of them, and of course I like a lot of dramas. For example, I love the classics, Mexican cinema's great films, such as "Macario" with the great Ignacio Lopez Tarso. I don't like horror films, honestly. ... It's like a waste of time.
On whether he lives alone during training:
Yes, but I'm surrounded by my team, which is usually very large -- especially for championship fights where I need so many people.
On how his fans in Mexico compare to those in the U.S., and when he realized he had crossed over as a star in America:
The American fans can't compare to the Mexican fans. I'm not saying they aren't loyal or don't know the sport, but I think the ones from Mexico are more passionate and [plugged] into all sports in general. I acknowledge that [other] Hispanic fans are equal to the Mexicans.
I started to notice I had a good number of people following me after my matches made in the U.S., especially those that allowed me to show my abilities -- and I can mention those I had against Marco Antonio Barrera, Daniel Zaragoza and so on. I did notice that the boxing fans in the United States were with me like crazy, especially during my matches with Barrera.
On what it was like to win his first championship:
It was 1999, I was 21 years old and I was fighting Daniel Zaragoza. I had gotten off to such a strong start to my career, winning my first pro fight at 16, that I really went into that fight with the most confidence than I ever had in my career. I knew I wasn't leaving that ring without a championship. My fans in El Paso [Texas] that night were very supportive. If I recall, I knocked him out late in the fight, 10th or 11th round [it was an 11th-round knockout]. It felt very good, actually very nice and happy, to make a great dream come true, and at the same time think and know that I was part of those elected to earn a world title. Undoubtedly, becoming a world champion for the first time is something that only those who did it know what it feels like.
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