Here's hoping we don't see Morales in such a state again. (Hogan Photos)
Golden Boy Promotions came to the brilliant new billion dollar Barclay’s Center with a binder full of fighters hoping the return to big time boxing in Brooklyn would be a dazzling affair. We live a Tablet world so one is bound to
find some of the content in any binder outdated. This was the case last Saturday night where Erik Morales, Randall Bailey and even Paulie Malignaggni showed that future affairs in Brooklyn are best left for those who don’t know what a three ring binder is.
The usual, if not inevitable, end of the career of the sports legend comes with our hero laid bare as mortal. In the case of boxing the end most often manifests in a savage beating. If you were to ever wonder how you would fare in the ring with one of the best boxers in the world, you only need to see Erik Morales’s body twist through the air and bounce off the canvas to know. That is how it would end for you and that is how boxing’s best often finally leave us.
Many in the boxing community hoped that Erik Morales’ last significant fight would be against fellow Mexican and future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez, a long in the waiting match up between two fading, yet still mighty kings. Alas, that is not the nature of things. Danny Garcia, 24, in white tiger stripe trunks and still hopeful enough not identify his future with that of Morales’, quickly dispatched what remained of Morales’ in the fourth round of their junior welterweight title fight with a left hook that looked bionic in strength and speed compared to the spent punches of Morales. Garcia has future riches to grab, championship level fights to fight, and a life at the top to live. He will not think of Morales for long. His youth combined with the putrid air of cheat and tainted meat that Morales brought to the fight by testing positive for PEDs will allow Garcia to cleanse himself of this affair.
No one should shed a tear. This is boxing. No one rushed to save Morales until after the money was earned.
New York’s Paulie Malignaggi, almost 32, will never reach the legendary heights of Erik Morales, and if he is as smart as he appears, he will never end as low. Patrons are starting to ask if isn’t he a little too old to be in this bar in that outfit.
‘The Magic Man’ has always been flashy in the ring. From trunks that appeared more like tasseled glittery skirts, to hair extensions gone wild, to promises of tweets between rounds and always, always the ceaseless brash talk of a self declared Adonis, Paulie has always been able to back up such flash with equal flash in the ring, the flash of beautiful hand, feet and body movement.
From the opening bell on Saturday night, the magic appeared faded. The feet did not move nearly as fast. What used to be in and out with pivots and ducks was more stationary in range. The movement not quite so balanced and coordinated. He got hit with shots he would not been hit with in the past. When he got hit, his body did not appear to handle the punishment as well as his mind thought. He got put down hard by a too over-blown super lightweight. He did have a few rounds where everything shimmered and his hand speed was still good enough to come away with the decision.
Paulie’s reaction to the boos and the questions that followed the fight suggest he is not yet willing to give up the ‘Magic Man’ role. No one wants to give up the freshness of youth, the lights, the dancing, the star. Paulie is no longer that New York kid. He must be matched carefully in the future. A nice long staid career as an understated boxing analyst awaits.
Power is the last thing to go. Randall Bailey, who has produced some the greatest knockouts of the past decade, proved he had plenty of power left when he separated Mike Jones from his senses earlier this year. Reflexes, speed and timing are necessary to deliver that power. After twelve rounds of failing to pull the trigger on Devon Alexander, clearly we ever see that power on display again against an elite fighter.
Speaking of spectacular knockouts. I do not consider Danny Garcia’s knockout of Eric Morales to be a KO of the Year candidate. I require some semblance of a competitive fight as a necessary prerequisite. No one should reward me for kicking my dog.
Hey Kid Chocolate, Brooklyn is there for the taking.