August 4th, 2004 – by Tomás Rohan
Three weight World Champion Erik “Il Terrible” Morales collected yet another World title belt last weekend adding the IBF super featherweight title to the WBC version he already owned. The Mexican defeated Carlos Hernandez over twelve exciting rounds to cement his claim as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport today.
Morales won his first World title back in 1997 when he stopped defending WBC super bantamweight champ Daniel Zaragoza in the eleventh round. It signalled a changing of the guard with the then almost 40 year old Zaragoza passing the torch to his compatriot. Morales still rates Zaragoza (who was inducted into Boxing’s Hall of Fame this past June) as his toughest ever opponent with bitter rival Marco Antoinio Barrera claiming third place on Morales’ list. Sandwiched in between the two great Mexican fighters is Belfast’s own Pocket Rocket, Wayne McCullough.
Morales engaged in a titanic struggle with McCullough before emerging a points winner in their WBC super bantamweight title clash back in October of 1999. Morales has previously admitted that he considered quitting on his stool against the granite chinned Irish man in the later rounds of their fight in Detroit.
Speaking to FightNews.com prior to his fight with Hernandez last weekend Morales placed the former WBC bantamweight champion second in his list of toughest opponents saying, “It was a physically demanding fight. McCullough took a lot of hard punches and gave it right back. He was very tough that night and I really felt it. I’ve always thought of this as one of my greatest wins.”
Morales has never been noted for lavishing praise on former opponents so his words will no doubt provide encouragement to McCullough who has had to endure some frustrating times of late. The two former foes often bump into each other in Las Vegas where McCullough is based and despite the language barrier the respect between the two men is obvious.
Morales has said that he would like to meet the winner of this weekend fights between big punchers Acelino Freitas and Diego Corrales. McCullough who celebrated the ninth anniversary of his World title win in Nagoya, Japan last week hopes to be back in the ring over the coming months as he resumes his quest for a second World title.