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Boxing – Never give in. Never surrender. On Saturday, sports fans were privileged to witness a boxing legend display a relentless fighting spirit; who ignored the world’s assumptions of his demise; who bid defiance against a larger boxer seven years his junior.
PHOTOS: Morales vs Maidana
In a trial of strength and violence, former five-time champion Erik Morales (51-7) carved out his greatness by plodding forward, never succumbing to pain, hardship, fright or terror, or naysaying defeatism.
He battled during training camp, he overcame the aches of his own flesh, he ignored the doubt of weak-minded men, he defied the conventions of age, he fought in the middle of the ring and against the ropes.
In that ring, he fought – and earned – our respect. In life, respect is the only thing that can never be given. It has to be earned.
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Reminiscent of a Rocky movie, Erik Morales stepped into the ring considered by ESPN.com to be among the 50 greatest boxers in history. Considered well past his prime, however, “El Terrible” was also a 6-1 underdog.
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Morales vs Maidana >
At 34, Morales had been out of the ring since 2007 until a recent comeback against journeymen. Few at the MGM gave the Mexican legend a fighting chance, with many boxing pundits predicting that hard-punching Argentinian Marcos Maidana (30-2) would deliver a brutal knockout inside three rounds. [ Photos: Morales vs Maidana ]
That hardly happened. Fans were instead entreated to a war in the middle of the stage. The Tijuana-native with the hawk-like nose gave all that he could muster in a back-and-forth slugfest. It would stun and arouse television audiences, and the brawl would spark the occasional thunderous applause from the capacity crowd.
These were often interrupted by chants of “Morales!” The 34-year-old displayed his trademark lightining quick jabs, counter-punching and boxing skills.
True to expectations of a knockout, Maidana focused on delivering power punches to his smaller foe. But Maidana himself would be buckled several times by the underdog, forcing the Argentinian to hold, grapple, and rough-house his devoted opponent. Morales’ fists struck with precision and purpose.
Majority Decision >
After the first round, Morales fought with his right eye shut but never relented in the countless exchanges with the stronger Maidana. After 12 exhausting rounds, Maidana would escape with a contested majority decision, earning a 116-112 tally from two ringside judges and a 114 draw from Richard Houck.
“Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed . . . to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, speaking to schoolboys in October 1941 during World War II.