The CyberBoxingZone News
Morales Stops Kelley for Bogus WBC Title
|After defeating late sub Kevin Kelley, Erik Morales
proudly wore a WBC belt
around his waist. It was a title as fraudulent as the one he
claimed after his bogus decision against Marco Antonio Barrera
earlier this year. Morales had earned the "interim
title" of the WBC. What the hell is that?
This is what it's come to in boxing: not only are there too
in each division, but there are now too many champions in each
body. As best as Boxing Chronicle can tell, this whole thing
began with Roy
Jones and the WBC light-heavyweight title.
Fabrice Tiozzo held the WBC's 175 lb. title, but had announced
plans to campaign as a cruiserweight. But Tiozzo was taking
his sweet time making a matchup, and while he pondered this fight
or that one, he kept his light
heavyweight title in limbo. Enter Jones. Jones offered
to give the WBC a fat sanctioning fee if they would call his
televised sparring match with veteran Mike McCallum a title bout.
The WBC, never one to turn down a check, obliged, and Jones was
named the "interim" light heavyweight champion.
The alphabet groups, seeing an entirely new avenue of revenue,
interim champions left and right. Kostya Tszyu, Zab Judah
and Joel Casamayor
(among others) all won "interim" world titles, further
confusing the title scene. Zab Judah still enters the ring
with his interim belt, despite having won the legitimate world
title from the same sanctioning body. Is this what it's come
down to? That each ABC group has two champs that now have to
Erik Morales was supposed to have faced WBC featherweight champion
Espadas for the title. Espadas suffered a legitimate injury
less than a month before the fight. In the good old days
(which in this case is 1998) Morales would have simply fought his
replacement, been disappointed in having to wait, and fought for
the title when the champion was repaired. Instead, we now
have Morales fighting for an "interim" belt and parading
around the ring pretending like Guty Espadas doesn't exist.
It's confusing to the boxing fan, it disrespectful to the
legitimate champion, and it's another rip-off that the sanctioning
bodies get away with.
Morales didn't think much of Kevin Kelley, and why should he have?
Since losing to Naseem Hamed, Kelley lost an uninteresting rematch
with Derrick Gainer, and even dropped a fight to an relative
unknown in an off-television
bout. Focused now on being a color commentator on KO Nation,
widely viewed to be retired pending a big money offer that would
But when Espadas begged off, that offer came calling, and Kelley
took his best shot.
Kevin Kelley's only chance to win this fight was to catch Morales
in exactly the same way he caught Derrick Gainer in their first
fight: with a surprise left hand that came as he was switching
from southpaw to conventional. A quick switch of the legs
allowed him to swing his entire body into a left hook that could
kayo Morales, if the former junior feather champ could be enticed
to leave an opening.
Morales began the fight very aggressively, not even bothering to
jab. Instead he launched straight right hands that landed
easily on Kelley. Kelley was moving uncharacteristically to
his left, right into Morales' money punch. Trouble was
detected when Kelley's back touched the ropes early in the first
round. If you're going to circle, you have to keep your man
in center ring. With Kelley already on the ropes, it was
inevitable that he would be trapped at some point.
Worse for The Flushing Flash was that his punches had no steam on
them. Kelley could do little more than Pernell Whitaker did
against Felix Trinidad: avoid punches and smile when hit.
It was not the way we wanted to see Kelley wrap up his outstanding
Kelley began trying to catch Morales in the switch early in the
second round. He was so anxious to spring his surprise that
he often switched his footing after an overt feint from Morales.
Kelley landed a couple of left hands in this round, but he seemed
all too aware of Morales' power and spent much of his time keeping
Morales took his time, but Kelley's unwillingness to stand still
made him frustrated. He was expending a lot of energy
chasing Kelley and throwing bombs, and by the fourth, Morales
looked like he might be looking for a breather. But then
Morales played expert possum. Looking winded, Morales
waited until Kelley fired a body shot, then he limped back into a
corner. At first, Kelley followed cautiously, but when
Morales looked seriously tired, Kelley attacked. Morales ate
a punch but immediately spun Kelley so that the tables were
turned. With Kelley now trapped, Morales unloaded a frantic
array of punches, many of which landed. Kelley could not get
out of the way, and ate a series of overhand rights before the
bell sounded to save him. It was the first sustained action
of an otherwise sporadic fight.
Morales now had a taste for brawling, and Kelley's inability to
offer any power shots in return meant that Morales attacked with
some abandon. It was exactly the wrong game plan for the
Mexican titlist, but it made for an entertaining bout.
Morales' desire to score the kayo put him right where Kelley
wanted him. For the next few rounds, Kelley repeatedly tried
to land the left hook on a stance switch. A few times he
did, but it was not nearly enough.
Morales sunk a fierce body blow into the front of Kelley's stomach
in the fifth, and Kelley attempted to take a knee. With
Morales still throwing, he ended up on his hands and knees, but he
beat the count. The knockdown only fueled Morales' desire,
and his reckless attack left him open for a number of exchanges.
This continued into the sixth, and most of the seventh.
Morales banked every single round by starting and ending the
controlling the time in between them, he still gave Kelley dozens
of opportunities to land. Often he did. In the sixth
round especially, the two stood toe-to-toe, with Kelley landing
the punch he had been looking for several times. Although
Morales was controlling, onlookers half expected Morales to
suddenly drop to the canvas as Gainer had. Kelley had only
one chance to win, and Morales was giving it to him.
But it was not to be. In the seventh round, Kelley began
taking some long shots thrown from the distance and retreated more
desperately. Morales' sharp accurate punches were landing
more frequently, and the largely Mexican crowd ate it up. At
one point Morales landed two huge right hands and Kelley looked
like he wanted to take a knee again. But Morales kept
throwing, and Kelley again went down, this time falling to his
knees and then flat on his stomach. It was from position
that he watched the count reach eight before springing up and
asking to continue. Morales gladly hit him some more, and
with Kelley on the ropes and taking shots, the fight was
There was some controversy at the stoppage, because Kelley had
technically been throwing back punches at Morales. But while
Kelley was throwing and missing, Morales was reaching around his
tight guard and landing right hand
after right hand. The last two that he landed had Kelley
leaning forward with his gloves pinned to his face. While he
was still mentally alert, he was taking punishment and had no
chance to stem the tide. The decision to halt the fight was
totally legit, and while disappointed, Kelley was probably also
thankful. He could have been seriously injured.
And so Erik Morales now claims a belt... an interim version of a
belt that was already thrown in the garbage by unbeaten Naseem
Hamed. For Morales (38-0/30), two fights loom on the
immediate horizon: a rematch with Barrera
and a showdown with Hamed. Our guess is that Morales will
delay the Hamed bout and opt for Barrera first. The theory
is that by completing his title against Espadas later this year,
and then defeating the only man to threaten his reputation,
Morales would be in a better negotiating position to bargain with
Hamed. He may be right, but it's a gamble. After all,
Hamed has expressed interest in fighting Marco Antonio first,
which would leave Morales with no one but Espadas. It's a
complicated situation, and politics, promoters and paychecks will
all prove to be stumbling blocks before the future is mapped out.
One thing is for certain, however. If Morales doesn't
tighten up his defense under the tutelage of Floyd Mayweather, Sr.
then both Hamed and Barrera would have to be early favorites when
the fights are eventually made.
Until that time, we won't consider Morales a world champion at
126. Not until he beats Hamed, the recognized #1...or until
he beats Espadas, the legitimate WBC champion. The title
picture is out of control. It's time to reign in the ABCs.