ROSEMONT, Ill. – Erik Morales is gunning to become the first Mexican-born fighter to win a world title in four weight classes when he takes on David Diaz for the WBC lightweight championship. Here is what each man must do to win:
Keys to victory
1. Establish the jab: Morales has shown a good jab in wins over men such as Paulie Ayala and Jesus Chavez. If he keeps it in Diaz's face, he'll make it hard for Diaz to begin an attack.
1. Punch in combination: Diaz can't afford to admire his work. Morales is a busy fighter and Diaz must match him in that area.
2. Get off first: Morales can't let Diaz gain confidence and bring the crowd into the fight by scoring in clear combinations. The best way to prevent both is to get off first. .
2. Go up and down: By punching up and down continuously, Diaz will blunt Morales' attack by making him worry about defense more.
3. Double hook to the body: When the fighters are in close, Morales should double on his hooks to the body, which will create openings up top later in the fight.
3. Establish respect: If Morales gets the idea he can walk through Diaz' punches, he'll make it a long night for Diaz. Diaz needs to make Morales respect his punching power by connecting with something early.
4. Limit Diaz’ movement: Morales' legs aren't what they once were and he's not effective chasing down an opponent. It's a risk to corner Diaz and trade, but one he'll have to accept given his declining mobility and Diaz' underwhelming power.
4. Move his head:. Morales is an offensive fighter and by moving his head, Diaz can take away a big part of Morales' game.
Rating the fighters
Comparison of Erik Morales and David Diaz on a rating of 1 to 10 in several categories:
Diaz only has 17 KOs in 34 fights.
Morales' jab is a weapon if he commits to it.
In his prime, Morales' varied attack was a sight to see.
Diaz is the bigger but quicker man.
If Diaz has a strong defense in this fight, he should win going away.
Morales has been stopped in his last two, though both were by hard-hitting Manny Pacquiao.
Diaz seems to have more left in the tank.
Morales is as cunning as they come.
Morales' father, Jose, has never distinguished himself in his son's corner.
Morales is eyeing a title in his fourth weight class, but Diaz is on a mission for respect. .
Morales is the bigger name and would be a heavy favorite were both in their primes. But he's slipping and Diaz is a smart, hungry fighter, so my hunch is Diaz by decision in a tight fight.