Morales quits ring after pounding from Diaz

ERIK MORALES accepted on Saturday night what most people in boxing were all too aware of – thousands of punches to the head have taken their toll on a great warrior.

David Diaz stopped Morales from becoming the first Mexican fighter to win belts in four weight classes as he successfully defended WBC lightweight title with a unanimous decision at the Allstate Arena.

The 30-year-old Mexican put up more of a fight in his unsuccessful WBC lightweight title challenge than in his previous outing but after losing a close decision to champion David Diaz, finally called it a day.

Morales will go down in history as one of the great Mexican warriors, his reputation enhanced by his stereotypical Central American style.

After a career which was highlighted by a remarkable trilogy with compatriot Marco Antonio Barrera and victories over the likes of Kevin Kelley, Wayne McCullough, Injin Chi and Paulie Ayala, Morales admitted it is time to retire.

The thrilling 2005 decision victory over Manny Pacquiao would have been the perfect end to his career.

But, like so many of his peers, he did not see the warning signs. Defeat by Zahir Raheem was a shocking blow, before Pacquiao avenged the 2005 loss by destroying the Mexican in their third and decisive meeting. At that point it was clear to all but the man himself that it was time for Morales to bow out.

A place in the history books was too tempting for ‘El Terrible’. Victory against Diaz would have seen him become the first Mexican to win belts in four weight classes.

It was not to be, however, as he dropped a unanimous decision at the Allstate Arena in Illinois.

Judge Herminio Cuevas gave the fight to Diaz by a score of 114-113. Robert Hecko scored the bout 115-113 in Diaz’s favour and Nobuaki Uratani gave Diaz a 115-112 victory.

Following the loss, Morales announced his plans to retire.

“Definitely, you are not going to see me in the ring again,” he said.

“This is it. I’m not going to fight anymore. I’ve taken too many punches, particularly to the head area.”

Chicago native Diaz (33-1-1, 17 KOs) was successful in his first defence.

Throughout the bout, referee Benji Estevez separated the fighters and warned Diaz for punches that bordered on illegal.

Afterward, Jose Morales – Erik’s father and trainer – accused Diaz of dirty tactics.

Diaz defended his methods, citing stylistic differences. “I didn’t come here to do nothing but fight,” he said.

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