HBO Recap: Kirkland Steals a Win, Garcia Steals the Show


By Hans Olson

Erik Morales, who has for years has thrilled and awed, may have seen his illustrious career come to the end of the line. In an exciting drama-filled battle, “El Terrible” showed all the signs of heart he’s always fought with, but lacked certain qualities that it takes to compete against a younger, hungrier fighter.

That fighter was Danny “Swift” Garcia.

Showing his youth, skill, resolve, and a ring IQ well beyond his years, the Philadelphia prodigy fulfilled a prophecy long ago set.

He is the new WBC Jr. welterweight champion of the world.

“It’s been a long way, everyone wants to be a champion,” said an emotional Garcia in the ring moments after his win. “[My dad, trainer Angel Garcia] stuck by my side and we did it. I knew it was going to be a bloody war. I couldn’t let him take my dreams away.”

“This means the world to me. If you have dreams, don’t ever let them go. I am proof they do come true.”

Morales, who had won the WBC Jr. welterweight title last September in a grueling war with Pablo Cesar Cano, lost the belt on the scales when he failed to make the division’s 140 lb. limit on Friday. He paid $50,000 of his purse to Garcia, and it would be only Garcia who could claim himself champion in a victory.

Although “El Terrible” got off to a decent start, the age and wear on his 35-year-old body were apparent by the 6th round. Garcia’s jab, bodywork and ring savvy were effective throughout the latter half of the fight, even when bloodied by Morales.

At 1:33 in the 11th, Garcia landed a picture perfect left hook that sent Morales crumbling to the canvas as HBO’s Jim Lampley emphatically made the call: “Down goes Erik Morales!!! Stunned!!!”

It was all but over from there. Morales was able to finish the rest of the fight, but couldn’t pull off one of the miracles he has done so many times before. In the end, it was Garcia who took away the unanimous decision victory with ringside scores of 117-110, 116-112, and 118-109.

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In a controversial fight that won’t be forgotten for some time, James Kirkland defeated Carlos Molina by disqualification in a fight he was clearly losing.

Molina’s career has been littered with poor decisions and disappointments, and another came last night.

After being dominated over the course of the fight by Molina, Kirkland began to come on in the 9th and 10th rounds. At the end of the 10th, Kirkland landed a right hand and a grazing left that sent the off-balance Molina to the mat. As the bell rang, referee Jon Schorle began his count. Nobody can be saved by the bell, and though Molina was back on his feet at the count of 4, by the count of 5, Molina’s cornerman foolishly entered the ring, which is an automatic disqualification.

Was it unfortunate?

Yes.

Was it the correct call?

Absolutely.

Don’t Blame Molina, Kirkland, or Schorle…blame the inept corner of Molina, who cost their fighter the bout.

Though there was a degree of confusion, it’s the responsibility of the corner to be just as aware as the fighter. Shocked himself was Schorle, who HBO’s audio picked up exclaiming, “you fucking kidding me?” as he pushed the corner out.

Although a referee does have a degree of “judgement” when making his call—and perhaps Schorle made the wrong one— he was simply was abiding by the letter of the law.

To make an analogy…if an NFL team scores a touchdown and they had 12 men on the field…even if that 12th man didn’t have an impact on the play…it’s still a penalty.

Hopefully, a rematch can be made. After the fight, HBO’s Max Kellerman asked Kirkland if he’d be willing to grant Molina one.

“Yes I would love to.”

Although win’s a win, perhaps James Kirkland stole one here.

Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected]

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