Erik Morales: Lost in Translation

BY Rick Folstad ON November 12, 2006
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Maybe something was lost in the translation.

Maybe it was the questions and how they were asked.

Or maybe it was just former world champion Erik Morales being Erik Morales.

That’s not to say he’s a bad interview. After all, the guy does try to answer all the questions despite the language barrier. And he sounds pretty articulate and polite on a conference call.

But he’s not exactly James “Lights Out” Toney when it comes to quotes and press conferences. And that’s probably a good thing.

Still, at times, Morales (48-4, 34 KOs) could lull a charging lion to sleep.

But so what? The guy doesn’t get paid to talk.

He gets his sizeable paycheck from what he does inside the ring, and he’ll be earning every cent they pay him on Nov. 18 when he fights Manny Pacquiao (42-3-2, 32 KOs) in their super-featherweight rubber match at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas (HBO pay-per-view).

In their first fight in March 2005, Morales won a decision.

In their rematch this past January, Pacquiao stopped Morales in the tenth.

Now they’re going to do it again, and for Morales, who has lost three of his last four fights, a win over Pacquiao might be the only way he can revive a sagging career.

But Morales knows that, understands it better than any of us. Maybe that’s why all his answers are so pat. He has other things on his mind, more important things.

You can’t blame him if he isn’t wild about conference calls or answering the same questions asked a different way, or about sports writers asking him if his career is on the edge and his legacy is in jeopardy.

He just wants to be at his best for the Nov. 18 fight.

“I’m ready,” he said on a recent conference call. “We worked real hard on everything. We’re ready to go. I can’t wait for Nov. 18. I’m ready to win. This is a tough fight, but one I’m going to win. That’s all that’s in my mind. I’m ready to go 12 hard rounds or whatever I need to go.”

OK. It’s not exactly Keats, but I doubt Keats knew the best way to take a guy out once he had him hurt.

Morales says he won the first fight against Pacquiao simply because he needed to win it.

“There was an urgency,” he said. “I needed to get credibility back in my career after coming off a tough loss (a majority decision to Marco Antonio Barrera). I prepared myself as well as I ever have for that first fight and it showed.”

And then came the second fight, the one that saw Pacquiao stop him in the tenth.

“In the second fight, I just made too many changes in my routine and my camp. I made changes I shouldn’t have done.”

One change was that his dad wasn’t in camp with him for that second fight. But he’s back in camp now and Morales said everything has been running smoothly.

Asked what the split was all about, Morales kept it private.

“Things happen between people,” he said. “But I‘m happy to have him back. He knows my weaknesses and my strengths. I’m happy with what we have done in camp.”

That was about as far into it as Morales was ready to go.

Still, the big question was which Morales was going to show up for the third fight.

“I’m going to try to do the best I can,” he said. “I’m going to try to give everyone a good show. I’m not going to be booed out of the ring. No one has ever booed me off the ring and it‘s never going to happen to me. I’m going to do the best I can and give everyone a great show. I’m prepared.”

That’s all we needed to hear anyway.

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