Erik “El Terrible” Morales sounds like a guy getting ready to spank the neighborhood bully. He isn’t calling anyone names, making wild threats or tossing out ugly insults. He’s just saying that it’s very, very important that Manny Pacquiao bring his best stuff into the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on Jan. 21 for their WBC super-featherweight title eliminator. Anything less than his best won’t be enough.
Morales doesn’t sound cocky as much as he sounds cocksure, a guy who isn’t losing sleep worrying about what might happen. And that in itself is a pretty good trick considering the three-time world champ is a troubling 1-2 in his last three fights, the win coming on March 19 in his first fight against Pacquiao. His losses were to Marco Antonio Barrera in November 2004, and to Zahim Raheem this past September when he fought as a lightweight.
Asked how damaging another loss would be to his career, Morales (48-3, 34 KOs) said the idea of losing to Pacquiao (40-3-2, 31 KOs) wasn’t really part of his mindset. That’s not the way he thinks.
“You prepare yourself to win and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said through an interpreter on a recent conference call. “Losing is not in a winner’s mentality. All I’m thinking about is winning.”
He said he’s heard some of the things Pacquiao’s camp has said about the upcoming fight, and what he’s hearing doesn’t concern him.
“Everyone has a plan, but you still have to do it up in the ring,” he said. “(Pacquiao) has a promoter and a trainer who spend a lot of time talking about what they’re going to do to me. Well, let’s put it up in the ring and see if their fighter is good enough to execute what they say they’re going to do to me.”
He went on to say they claim they’re going to be more aggressive this time around. But Morales drove the point home that it’s not that easy to suddenly become more aggressive when someone is actually standing in front of you who can fight.
“That’s going to be me,” he said. “And everyone in the world knows I don’t back away from a fight.”
Along with sounding confident, Morales also sounded maybe a little tired and bored from hearing about the brand of gloves used in the first fight.
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said it was like fighting with pillows in that first fight. And it was a big distraction for Pacquiao, who is a hard hitter. They’re going to use different gloves for the next fight.
Morales? It’s like he could care less.
“All I can tell you is I fought with both brands of gloves (Winning and Reyes) and I’ve knocked people out wearing both brands of gloves,” he said. “So I know the gloves don’t mean anything.”
After a few more questions about the gloves, Morales suggested that the issue might not be as crucial as everyone is making it out to be.
“It’s not really important,” he said. “I’m going to be wearing gloves when I go into the ring. Whether they be Winning or Reyes, it doesn’t matter. As long as people see a lot of leather, they don’t care what the name is on the gloves.”
He said all he’s concerned about is being prepared for the fight. Besides, the way he understands it, each fighter can wear what kind of gloves they want to wear.
“That’s not an issue,” he said. “Not to me, anyway. The issue is to be ready to fight.”
For Morales, that’s always been the issue.