By Ricardo Ibarra
Looking to shine in front of a hometown crowd, undefeated Jr. lightweight prospect Victor Morales, Jr. (11-0, 7 KOs) will fight his twelfth professional bout just twenty miles south of his home of Vancouver, Washington this Saturday night. Heading up Pure Combat’s mixed combat sports event at the Clackamas Armory in Clackamas, Oregon, Morales will face Mexico’s German Meraz (62-57-2, 39 KOs), taking on the battle-tested journeyman in the card’s eight round main event.
The crafty 21-year-old Morales was a decorated amateur for the region and competed internationally for the US, claiming a gold medal at the Rudy Zapata Cup in the Dominican Republic in 2014. Since turning pro in August of 2016, he’s stacked eleven straight wins and has been on an impressive run over his last few fights, scoring five consecutive wins inside the distance. Most recently, he turned in a blistering performance against tough banger Marcelo Gallardo, stopping him in the seventh round this past April.
This may be the last opportunity Northwest fight fans have to see Morales compete locally for some time. He recently signed a promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions and that may have him fighting outside the region for much of the foreseeable future.
“It’s always been my dream, to sign with Golden Boy and Oscar Delahoya,” said Morales. “Growing up, that’s who I wanted to be like and that’s who I wanted to work with, and to be able to do that now is amazing. I’m excited for the future that we’ll have working together.
“This will be my last fight close to home for a while. From now on I’ll probably be fighting mostly in California, on whichever platform they decide, but it looks like I’ll be turning around and fighting again in October, at the very latest November…This will be the last time I fight at home for now. I’m excited to fight here in Portland one last time…I’m ready to go after bigger fights.”
With 122 bouts accumulated over a fourteen-year career, Meraz will represent the most experienced adversary to date for the young Morales. The 33-year-old, from Agua Prieta, Sonora, has served as a durable opponent for many young fighters ascending the boxing ladder in recent years, including current WBA 130 lbs. world champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis early in his career, whom Meraz lost to via six round unanimous decision in 2014.
“I know that his style is to take the least amount of damage so that he can turn around and fight again,” said Morales of his opponent. “I’ve watched a lot of tape on him and what these guys are doing against him. I’ve got a completely different game plan than what guys are usually using on him. I think I can stop him…Tank couldn’t stop him, but I think I have what it takes to stop him and I’m going to go out and show that early.”
Meraz is currently on a four-fight losing run, though all of those losses have come by decision. He last fought on July 12th, losing to former world title challenger Eric Hunter by unanimous technical decision after an accidental headbutt opened up a cut on Meraz in the fifth round and forced the fight to go to the scorecards.
Morales and Meraz will face off in an eight-round contest in the Jr. lightweight division. Twelve additional bouts of varying disciplines will fill out the card, with 2 other pro boxing matchups scheduled.
In the semi-main event, unbeaten Tacoma welterweight Nicholas Jefferson (9-0, 5 KOs) will look to add his tenth straight win, squaring off with Chad McKinney (2-10, 1 KO) in a six round contest. Jefferson, a pupil of former USA Olympic team head coach Tom Mustin, was a stand-out Northwest amateur, and competed internationally for Team USA, claiming a bronze medal in 2013 at the World Combat Games in Russia. As a pro, the rangy boxer has looked sharp defeating regional opponents. He last fought in April, taking a clear-cut decision win over Sean Gee. McKinney will be looking for his first win in three fights. In his last outing, he was defeated by Darious Harris via unanimous decision on July 7th.
Local fan favorite Lorenzo Caldera (1-0, 1 KO) will take on Phillip Schwartz (0-1) in a four round lightweight tilt, rounding out the remainder of the pro boxing portion of the line-up. A scheduled fight between Cris Reyes and Marco Cardenas was scrapped due to an injury suffered by Cardenas.
The rest of the roster will feature competitions in amateur boxing, both pro and amateur mixed martial arts, and kickboxing. Doors to the Clackamas Armory will open at 4 p.m. with amateur boxing kicking off the event at 5 p.m. For ticket info, visit Pure Combat’s Facebook page.