New Faces: Victor Morales Jr.
VICTOR MORALES JR.
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Weight class: featherweight
Amateur record: 118-12
Turned pro: August 29, 2016
Trainer: Victor Morales Sr.
Manager: Ken Sheer/Sheer Sports Management
Promoter: no promoter
Nickname: El Tornado
Best night of pro career: Morales’ pro debut on the undercard of the Robert Guerrero-David Peralta fight in Anaheim, California, a unanimous decision over Erick Lainez.
Fighting at his most natural weight – featherweight – Morales boxed a near-perfect four rounds, working a fast jab, putting combinations together, utilizing head movement while stepping his way in and around his opponent at will.
“I was very nervous,” Morales recalled about his August 2016 debut, “but once I stepped into the ring everything came naturally. I felt at home. It was a new beginning.”
The only thing he didn’t do was knock Lainez out, although he gave it his best effort, and unfortunately, he suffered an injury to his right hand, which would plague him during subsequent bouts.
Worst day of pro career: Morales’ sixth pro bout, against Kevin Davila, was a tougher-than-expected five rounder on a June 2017 club show in Olympia, Washington. Davila weighed in heavy and knew how to use it during the fight.
“We were already fighting out of my weight class by agreeing to a 128-pound catchweight,” explained Morales, “but he weighed in at 135 pounds. We got wind of that before the weight and I didn’t want him to have too much weight on me, so I weighed in at 132 pounds, which is really too heavy for me.”
According to Victor Morales Sr. Davila rehydrated to 152 pounds.
And the journeyman, who was craftier than his 1-3-2 record would indicate, was able to impose his weight on the smaller boxer with roughhouse tactics. Although the sharper, more-nimble Morales outworked and outboxed Davila, the club fighter occasionally put hands on then-19 year old.
Richard Baker, a veteran fight photographer and scribe who covers the Northwest U.S. boxing scene on his website flatpussboxing.com provides this description of Morales-Davila:
“Morales continued his undefeated shadow boxing career against another fighter with a poor record. Some shadows show a bit of substance and actually put up a fight, as did Davila. He continued to draw Morales in then exposed him to some picture perfect right hands and even a left. If he carried any power he would have dropped Morales. He fought a nice fight, better than his record indicates. Unfortunately, shadows are more illusion than substance. Morales is a bright and likable young man but his opponents are so poor that he is learning nothing. The opponents you get for a rising star are opponents from which can learn, not just a string of tomato cans to build up a record. Any fight for a kid with potential and from which he does not learn is a wasted fight. A fight from which can learn might be with Adyaka.”
The Adyaka the somewhat harsh Mr. Baker referred to is Philip Adyaka, a Minnesota-based journeyman from Uganda, who gave Seattle standout Rob Diezel a tough six rounds in the main event of the club show that Morales-Davila fight appeared on.
Next Fight: Team Tornado must have read Baker’s blog after the Davila fight, because Morales will face Adyaka (7-13, 4 KOs) on Saturday, March 2, in his first bout in the Oregon/Washington area in more than a year. Morales-Adyaka is an eight-round co-feature to a 10-rounder featuring cruiserweight fringe contender Mike Wilson vs. German Perez. Wilson is also the promoter of the club show in Jackson County Expos in Central Point, Oregon.
Why he’s a prospect: Morales, a member of the 2014 U.S. Junior Olympic Boxing team, was a talented teenage amateur boxer. He was two weeks too young to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic squad but was considered a hopeful for the 2020 Games due to his limited-but-successful international experience (he won gold at the Rudy Zapata Cup in the Dominican Republic). He faced (and beat at 119 pounds) Texas amateur standout Vergil Ortiz Jr. (now a hot 140-pound prospect) and eventual 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (three times).
Morales lost all three bouts to the marvelously talented Stevenson but claims to have made adjustments that resulted in each subsequent bout being more competitive.
“By the third fight, I thought I got him,” said Morales, “but it gets political by that point. We were in the U.S. Championships and he was their (USA Boxing) guy. He was the golden child for them.”
Morales has some “golden child” qualities as a pro. He’s a fresh-faced kid with an affable personality and he’s a skilled practitioner in the ring with impressive footwork, timing and quickness.
He’s also a lot stronger and tougher than he looks. Quality sparring in the competitive Southern California gym scene – Joshua Greer at Buddy McGirt’s gym in Northridge, Angel Acosta at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood and Oscar Negrete at Legendz Gym in Norwalk – has helped him “grow up” quick, so to speak, and develop his professional style.
Why he’s a suspect: As Baker stated, Morales hasn’t been in with Murderer’s Row, although it should be noted that he was still a teen when he turned pro and he’s yet to fight his 10th pro bout. Still, it’s hard to gauge how good his chin and power are based on the current level of his opposition.
And then there is the issue of his right hand, which took time to heal after his pro debut. Morales says the hand is 100 percent healthy and he’s using it with full confidence (although he admits he’s more reliant on his left). However, he now uses Skull Tec gel wraps and Cleto Reyes Safetec gloves (which have extra padding) in training to help protect his hands.
Storylines: Introduced to boxing at age 7 and fighting his first amateur bout at age 8, Morales quickly made a name for himself in the junior amateur ranks (under-16 competition), winning national tournaments such as the Silver Gloves, Junior Open and Youth Nationals. By 2014, he had accomplished enough to be viewed as a contender to make the U.S. 2016 Olympic squad although he was too young to compete in the Games.
However, he was able to participate in the open class of the highly regarded national Golden Gloves tournament in 2015 and 2016. Morales made it all the way to the 123-pound final of the 2016 tournament where he lost to Ohio star Duke Ragan, who went on to earn a silver medal at the 2017 World Amateur Championships.
“The Golden Gloves has the best men in the amateurs,” said Morales Sr., “it’s not a tournament for kids because they almost pride themselves on allowing the boxers to fight. It gets dirty in those bouts, there’s more pushing and shoving than would be allowed in the other national tournaments.
“So, Victor was ready for all that rough stuff in 2016 and he came in looking to rip heads off. He knocked out the Detroit Golden Gloves champ in his first bout of the tournament. He passed my test to prove that he was ready to be a professional boxer at the Golden Gloves.”
Morales Jr. puts it this way: “I built my boxing pedigree with USA Boxing but I learned to be a fighter in the Golden Gloves.”
He bristles as Baker’s criticism that he hasn’t been in tough since turning pro.
“I didn’t go to Tijuana to build up a 5-0 or 6-0 record with all knockouts to tart my career like a lot of teenager who were former amateur stars do,” he said. “The guys we brought in came to win, they tried to put me down. We haven’t taken the easy road to build my record.
“I’d have more knockouts, and maybe even be ranked, if I’d have insisted on fighting at my true weight, but to get fights, I’ve fought above my weight, so it’s not having five KOs in nine wins.”
Morales signed with Sheer Sports Management in 2017 and began to hold training camps in the greater Los Angeles area, which has provided him with world-class professional sparring.
“It’s been an education sparring with guys like (WBO 108-pound titleholder) Acosta and (former junior featherweight title challenger) Negrete,” Morales said. “They got rough with me at first, so I had to give it right back to them to earn respect. I wrestled for four years in middle school and high school and I can bring that game to the ring if I had to.
“I had to toss Negrete over my shoulder, WWE style. I did that and walked over his body like an NBA player. Sometimes you gotta stand your ground and make your mark in a new place.”
Morales says he’s ready to make his mark outside of Southern Cali gyms.
“I’m fighting in eight rounders now, I’ve already got my 11th pro bout scheduled for April, and by the end of the year, I want to be fighting in 10-round bouts.
“By 2020, I want to be fighting for junior or regional title so I can be ranked.”
May 19 – David Berna – TKO 3
January 11 – Edgar Cantu – RTD 5
September 23 – Corben Page – TKO 6
June 24 – Kevin Davila – UD 5
May 20 – Corben Page – UD 5
February 25 – Chris Wheaton- UD 4
January 13 – Luis Gomez Ventura – TKO 1
September 24 – Felipe Medina – TKO 2
August 27 – Erick Lainez – UD 4