2003-05-03 Erik Morales w rsc 5 Fernando Velardez, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - WBC
2003-05-03 Erik Morales w rsc 5 Fernando Velardez, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless. Despite having great difficulty in making the weight, Morales (126) quickly got down to business to outbox the challenger before dropping him with right to the jaw immediately prior to the end of the first round. Taking his time it was all too easy for Morales as he picked his punches against the enthusiastic Velardez (126), but in the fourth it all got too much for the latter when he was worked over by body punches and a cracking combination knocked him down. Up on his feet again, Velardez was soon dropped for the third time, a heavy right doing the trick, and in the fifth session he was literally taken apart before another right put him down yet again and brought about the referee’s intervention at 1.02.
Having knocked out Guty Espadas Jr inside three rounds at the Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California on 4 October 2003 in a WBC junior lightweight eliminator, Morales decided to move up a division on a permanent basis. Initially, the WBC announced that they were calling Morales their ‘Emeritus’ featherweight champion, but that came to nothing after Morales stated that he would never box at nine stone again. The WBC then announced that Michael Brodie v In-Jin Chi would decide the vacant championship.