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Erik Morales wants Vegas stage to stamp comeback

February 22, 2011 |  6:18 pm

It must be a financial problem with Erik Morales.

"Thanks God, economically, I'm OK," the legendary three-division world boxing champion from Mexico said Tuesday at L.A. Live's ESPNZone, where he appeared to promote his April 9 junior-welterweight pay-per-view fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas against Argentina's Marcos Maidana.

"I own a garbage [collection] company in Tijuana and Rosarito. I have a boxing promotion company with a stable of [15] good, young fighters. I have houses I rent. So, honestly, the thinking to come back to boxing is not in a desperate way."

Morales, 34, hasn't won a big fight since 2005, but what a victory it was: a decision victory over Manny Pacquiao that stands as the Filipino superstar's last loss. Pacquiao rallied with a TKO over Morales in early 2006, then knocked him out later that year in the third round.

Morales fought for a lightweight belt in 2007, lost, then decided to return "refreshened," as promoter Oscar De La Hoya called him Tuesday, and won three fights in Mexico last year.

There were talks to stage a Morales-Juan Manuel Marquez bout, but Marquez balked, so De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions mentioned alternate opponents.

"I said, 'No! I want someone big. Maidana!' " Morales said.

The April 9 card, at $44.95, includes a lightweight battle between Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis and a middleweight comeback by Winky Wright versus England's Matthew Macklin.

Maidana, 27, participated in the 2010 fight of the year, losing a decision to Amir Khan in December, and he has 27 knockouts in 31 fights. Morales said the Golden Boy people warned him Maidana "hits so hard."

He responded, "Don't worry, he's not hitting you guys."

Morales spent Tuesday vowing his same "will to win, great preparation and technique" that led to the 2005 Pacquiao victory have returned sufficiently to allow an upset over 4-to-1 favorite Maidana.

He expressed resentment at his former promoter Top Rank leaving him in the 122-pound division for too long, and how his struggles to make weight continued through the super-featherweight (130-pound) bouts against Pacquiao.

"My body was so tired, and before the second fight with Pacquiao, I had problems with my team, my father, my wife," Morales said. "It was a whole mess. Then I had to fight Pacquiao again. I didn't have the conditioning.

"Now, I realize, it was a bad decision to take that fight. I realize I was in a deep hole. But I at least gained a little good from it -- I went to take a big rest."

Morales said he drank and ate anything he wanted for two years. He did some community work in Tijuana, dabbled in politics, didn't like it, and watched boxing from a distance.

He said he hasn't sipped "a drop of alcohol" in 18 months, engaging in the three fights in Mexico to assess what talent remained, and concluded he still was capable of landing a fourth world title as a junior-welterweight even if he's more than 11 years removed from his epic victory over Marco Antonio Barrera.

"Who's he beat?" Morales asked of Maidana, with some quickly noting Victor Ortiz. "I don't care about his name. My name is Erik Morales and I've faced the best in this sport."

--Lance Pugmire