Monday, March 27, 2023  |



Youngest Morales brother set for U.S. debut on Saturday



Morales, like Chavez, is a name that evokes strong images of Mexican boxing. Erik Morales, through rivalries with Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao, rose to become one of the sport’s most entertaining stars of the late ’90s and early ’00s and continues to be relevant even at 36. Erik’s younger brother Diego, who fought in a far different, more tactical style, was a titleholder in his own right, winning the WBO 115-pound title in ’99.

As Erik’s clock ticks down to the time when he eventually joins Diego permanently in retirement, a new Morales brother has emerged from the same neighborhood of Zona Norte in Tijuana, Mexico, hoping to walk in their footsteps. Ivan, the 20-year-old half-brother of Erik and Diego (and, like the latter, a junior bantamweight), is unbeaten at 17-0 (12 knockouts) and is set to make his U.S. debut this Saturday against Luis Maldonado (36-9-1, 27 KOs) at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif. The bout will be aired by Telefutura beginning at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

altShould Ivan, who shares the same father — Jose Morales — as Erik and Diego, ever win a world title, it would be the first time a trio of brothers has done so.

“I don’t see it as pressure even though a lot of people bring it up to me,” said Ivan, who was 32-4 as an amateur, of his family’s legacy. “I see it more as an example to follow and to strive for the achievements that Erik and Diego have reached.”

Since turning professional in 2009, Morales has fought modest opposition around Mexico on shows promoted by Erik Morales’ Box Latino company. Morales has scored six straight stoppage victories since winning a split-decision over Javier Franco last July. The Maldonado fight will be his first since signing a promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions in July.

Maldonado, who has lost seven of his last eight bouts, still represents the first small step-up in competition for Morales. Maldonado, 34, has challenged for a world title on three separate occasions (against Nonito Donaire, Fernando Montiel and Vic Darchinyan) but has been knocked out in all three tries.

The youngest Morales’ long, lanky frame immediately reminds you of “El Terrible,” but the left-handed Ivan feels his style is more akin to his fellow southpaw brother Diego, who took over for their father as trainer once Ivan turned professional. “Obviously their skill set is much better than mine but I am sure I will reach it with time and experience,” conceded Ivan.

Photos / Felipe Leon

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel and can be reached at [email protected] An archive of his work can be found at Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

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