Victor Morales: No Clichés
They say once you catch the buzz for boxing, there is no going back; Victor Morales told me ‘I did plenty of sports – I played baseball and basketball even before boxing, but I walked into the gym with my Dad in West Portland around 5 or 6 and started boxing at 7 and from there it’s been nothing else.
I spoke with the talented American Featherweight prospect ahead of his 11th fight this weekend. As a prestigious amateur, Morales won all the State and the Regional boxing tournaments in the Pacific Northwest, multiple National Championships and was also presented with the National Outstanding boxer award, which is the highest award in USA Boxing. Many of the top amateur boxers appear to struggle adapting when they initially transfer over into the paid ranks, which Victor feels is only natural - ‘I think for everybody, even the best of the best it takes a few fights as it’s a completely different sport. It’s a different scoring system and you’ve gotta make your punches count. Now we have to go up to 12 rounds rather than 3 so it’s a lot different’.
Asked when he felt he was ready to make the transition, he admits it took some consideration but the time was right after his last few tournaments - ‘I feel I was ready after my last tournament, they were more pro-style events in the Golden Gloves, fighting guys up to 34 years old. It was a big step; I did it for 2 years and successfully beat everyone in my way. Me, my Dad and my family made the decision to go pro after that’ he said.
It had all been fairly routine for Morales with 2 KO’s and 3 UDs before facing off against Kevin Davila; Morales went on to win by unanimous decision but it was a tougher affair than he’d have liked, largely in part due to Davila weighing in heavily overweight on the scales and even more so on the night. When asked if this had taught him some valuable lessons regarding the pro game, and perhaps what some fighters will do to counter a talent differential, he responded ‘Oh yeah, there’s always gonna be someone who wants to try a trick card, to try and be extra big on fight night. I knew he was gonna be way bigger, he was 20lbs heavier. I knew I’d have to use my footwork and speed and make him look stupid. I knew it would be hard to take him out so just made sure I didn’t get hit and outclassed him’
Those are the tests that a young fighter requires as they are coming through the ranks – nobody is expecting every young fighter to take the path of Lomachenko but adversity is required along the way and Morales believes the experience gained will go a long way in the future; ‘There’s always gonna be something that you have to overcome in the fight and something you learn from. I know that this is probably gonna happen more often than not and I know I’ve just got to do what I do and come out with the win’ he said.
In terms of his development so far, the 21-year-old is pleased with his progress so far – as he heads into his 11th fight, he explained ‘‘I’m more than happy with how everything is flowing. I feel like I’ve adapted to the pro ranks very, very easily now, I’m getting bigger, I’m getting stronger and I’m becoming an all-around better fighter. I’m travelling around the gyms in California and getting the best sparring in the world, training with the best trainers and just growing as a boxer’.
Marcelo Gallardo will be the face in the opposite corner this weekend when Victor travels to Oregon. With a 7-4-2 record, Gallardo has fought a gauntlet of prospects and Morales will be the latest to test his mettle against the 30-year-old. Speaking on the matchup, Morales said ‘I know that he’s gonna come to fight and I know he’s almost upset a few prospects, so his record being 7-4 is deceiving as they were all tight. I know he’s gonna take the fight to me and we’re prepared for that’.
Morales overcame severe illness as a young child and received a ‘spinal tap’ to rule out conditions such as meningitis. After the spinal tap was performed, he lost all strength in his legs and he was left almost paralyzed from the waist down. He had to learn to move again and it was his determination that led him to walk and run again. Despite all of this, he explains that he is very different from the majority of boxers you hear from today - ‘I grew up in a great family; I had everything I ever needed. Everyone else in boxing seems to have this cliché that they came from nothing. I’ve had everything and now I go out there to win and hurt somebody, there’s nobody more dangerous than that. If I wasn’t in boxing then I’d still have a good life and be hard working. But definitely, me just getting to where I want to be is all I need to keep me motivated’.
As far as his aspirations go, Morales isn’t thinking small; he explained that he has dreams to become a World Champion and write his name in the history books as one of the greatest ever Pacific North-West fighters in the World. He added that he would like to be set for a regional title shot by the end of the year to get him in the rankings to set up a world title shot in 2020/2021, but first, he has Gallardo to get past this weekend.