Sunday, March 25, 2012

You just can't beat Father Time

If there is one thing that has been proven time and time again in professional sports, it's that no matter how good you are you just can't beat Father Time. Name the sport, football, basketball baseball etc, it makes no difference. However, in no other sport is this more evident than in boxing.

Unfortunately, this was on display again Saturday night as Mexican living legend Erik 'El Terrible' Morales (52-8, 36 KO's) lost a unanimous decision to young upstart Danny Garcia (23-0, 14 KO's). The fight was for the vacant WBC light welterweight (140 lbs.) title, but it wasn't supposed to be vacant before the fight. Truth is, Morales was supposed to be defending that title.

Yet, the reason he wasn't was because he was stripped of that title after he failed to make weight the day before, weighing in at a soft 142 lbs.; I say soft because it was clear from his body that Morales did not put forth his best effort getting into fight shape. If this was the first indication that the 35 year old Morales was past his prime, then the fight itself solidified it.

While he put on a valiant performance, and early on even looked as though he was getting the better of the 22 year old challenger, during the course of a 12 round fight Father Time would eventually make his presence known. That is exactly what happened as a much slower and lethargic Morales started to look as though he was fighting in mud. He plodded along in his approach as the youthful Garcia became stronger with each round; a left hook on the chin that dropped Morales to his knees in the 11th solidified that point.

HBO analyst and trainer Emanuel Steward stated, "His heart and mind are willing, but he has no more legs underneath him; he's starting to look old." This is not shocking considering we've seen it over and over again. Supposed ageless wonders in all sports such as Brett Favre, Michael Jordan and even the ageless of them all Randy Couture, in an instant becomes that dreaded word "old." On Saturday night it was Erik Morales, who at only 35 has joined the club.

Generally, 35 years old in boxing is considered past your prime anyway; but in the case of Erik Morales, he was long overdue. You see, this seven time world champion over four weight divisions, began his career as a scrawny 16 year old bantamweight (118 lbs.) 19 years ago in March 1993. Not only has he had 60 fights since then, but many of those fights were all out wars; most experts call them career enders, which shorten a career by leaps.

Six of those "all out wars" were part of two classic trilogies against two of the sports all-timers in Marco Antonio Barrera and current welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao. 12 years later Morales/Barrera I, from February 2000, remains one of my personal favorites and considered an all-time classic; 12 rounds of fury back and forth from two of Mexico's greatest that literally took a little out of both that night. After that fight, although they both continued to have success, it's fair to say that neither fighter was ever the same again.

In his post fight interview Saturday night, Morales was asked if he would fight again. His response was, "I have to think about it; I have to seriously think about it. My health is a concern and I have to decide if I am able to truly compete at this level with these young competitors."

Personally, I hope 'El Terrible' never fights again; he has nothing left to prove. It was summed up best when HBO's Max Kellerman referred to him as one of Mexico's top ten all time greatest fighters. Considering Mexico's long and rich boxing history, that is an even greater achievement than all the world titles combined; and besides, no matter what you do, you're never going to beat Father Time.

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