Erik Morales to defend belt on March 24

Updated: December 28, 2011, 8:07 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

The previously postponed card featuring Erik Morales' first defense of his junior welterweight belt against Danny Garcia was rescheduled by Golden Boy Promotions and HBO on Wednesday.

The card, which was postponed Tuesday and originally scheduled for Jan. 28 at Reliant Arena in Houston, will be rescheduled for March 24 and will still take place at the same venue, Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com.

"We were able to get a date from Reliant Arena. The idea was to keep the card in Houston," Schaefer said. "The Houston fight fans enthusiastically embraced the card and we already had a tremendous amount of tickets sales. We were able to work out something with the arena because they had another event there on that date, but they were able to clear the date. They worked that out on their side and they were very excited about keeping the event there. I coordinated the date with HBO. The fighters have been informed and they're excited about it."

Morales was forced to pull out of the fight on Monday following emergency gallbladder surgery last week. Morales had hoped to go through with it, but his doctor told him he needed a month to heal. On Tuesday, the whole card was postponed.

"Morales is going to be in perfect shape. He could have fought in the second half of February but there were no dates," Schaefer said. "Now that it's going to be on March 24, Erik very much likes the time to prepare as well. It worked out. I'm happy that over the holiday, when most people were gone, we were still able to put the show back together and keep it in the same place because when you have an event which the local boxing community really embraced you want to keep it there."

The opening HBO bout will also remain intact. That pits junior middleweight contenders James Kirkland (30-1, 27 KOs) and Carlos Molina (19-4-2, 6 KOs).

Morales (52-7, 36 KOs), the 35-year-old Mexican star and four-division titlist, ended a 2½-year retirement in 2010. He claimed a vacant 140-pound belt when he knocked out late substitute Pablo Cesar Cano in the 10th round on Sept. 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz undercard.

Garcia, (22-0, 14 KOs), 23, of Philadelphia, earned the title opportunity by scoring a career-best victory against former titleholder Kendall Holt. Garcia won a decision against him Oct. 15 on the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson undercard in the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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