Erik Morales has long said that his toughest opponent has been his weight.
But after Saturday night, Morales is now fighting history.
Morales fed a one-handed Jesus Chavez a steady stream of right uppercuts and dropped him twice to take his World Boxing Council super-featherweight championship with a unanimous decision in a brutal fight that left both fighters’ faces swollen, bloody and bruised. The judges scored the fight 118-108, 117-109, 115-112. The Times scored the bout 116-110 for Morales.
In winning the 130-pound title before 8,094 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Morales (46-1) became only the second Mexican, along with the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez, to win world titles in three weight classes. Morales has his sights set next on International Boxing Federation champion Carlos Hernandez.
“It’s very important that I stay at 130 and fight the best at that weight and unify the titles,” said Morales, who has also won championships at 122 and 126, even as he struggled mightily to make those weight classes.
“Carlos is a great fighter but that’s up to [Top Rank chairman] Bob Arum.”
Arum said he envisioned the bout happening outdoors “under the stars on a Los Angeles summer evening.” The Home Depot Center comes to mind.
Hernandez, the first Salvadoran world champion, lives in Bellflower and has a sizable fan base in the Southland. He joined Morales on the dais for the post-fight news conference.
Chavez (40-3) nearly wrecked Morales’ plans in the first round, when he caught him with a vicious combination and an overhand right flush to the jaw.
But with each haymaker sending a stunned Morales to the ropes, Chavez could not take advantage. Morales returned the favor with aplomb in the second round.
With Chavez, who at 5 feet 5 is three inches shorter than Morales, needing to get inside to work the body, Morales unleashed a torrent of uppercuts.
Chavez first fell at 2:27 of the second round, then again 57 seconds later, Chavez landing flat on his face.
And if the beating he endured in the round was not enough, Chavez said he felt “something pull in my [right] shoulder.”
“I had to fight one-handed,” said Chavez, who initially won the belt with a unanimous decision over Sirimongkol Singmannassuk on Aug. 15. “I hope Erik stays a super-featherweight. When my shoulder heals, I want a rematch. It will be a different song.
“People saw what I did with one hand. With two hands, I would have knocked him out.”
Instead, with Chavez able to throw nothing but lefts the remainder of the fight, Morales simply picked his spots, though Morales said he hurt both hands in the second round and suffered a nasty gash over his right eye in the fourth.
Chavez was cut under his left eye in the sixth.
“I didn’t know that he was injured,” Morales said of Chavez’s shoulder. “My corner didn’t tell me. He had a very good rhythm.
“In the second round, when he was complete, I dropped him twice. So it doesn’t make a difference.”
According to CompuBox numbers, the two combined to throw 1,830 punches, Morales connecting on 30% (284 of 957), compared with Chavez’s 27% (233-873).
Earlier on the card, Miguel Cotto bloodied a game Victoriano Sosa early and knocked him down three times in the fourth round in successfully defending his WBC International super- lightweight championship with a technical knockout.
Cotto (19-0, 16 knockouts) split Sosa’s lip with a late barrage in the first round and Sosa (36-4-2) was swallowing blood until Cotto, who had put on 13 pounds since Friday’s weigh-in, set him up with left hooks to the body and put him down with follow-up combinations to the head.
Also on the card: lightweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (5-0) won a four-round unanimous decision over Oisin Fagan (4-2); and Grady Brewer (16-8) upset highly regarded prospect Anthony Thompson (15-1) with a third-round knockout in a super- welterweight bout.