<
>

Morales will return against Alfaro

NEW YORK -- Former three-division champion Erik Morales will end a 2½ year-retirement and return to the ring in March, Mexican promoter Nacho Huizar told ESPN.com on Sunday.

Morales is scheduled to face former lightweight titleholder Jose Alfaro in a welterweight bout March 27 in Monterrey, Mexico, Huizar said.

"I think he'll sell pretty good, but not like he did last time," Huizar said, referring to Morales' onetime position as a significant pay-per-view attraction.

Morales (48-6, 34 KOs) is a former junior featherweight, featherweight and junior lightweight champion and one of the best fighters in Mexican history. He challenged for a lightweight belt in his last fight, but lost a decision to David Diaz in August 2007 before retiring.

There was a steady stream of talk of a possible comeback since then, but nothing ever materialized until now.

Huizar said it was Morales who called him and asked him to promote the fight in conjunction with his own company.

"After I heard he was going to come back, he called me and begged me to be his partner," Huizar said. "It's an honor to me for him to pick me. If I don't do it, somebody else will."

Morales-Alfaro will be televised in the United States via Integrated Sports pay-per-view.

Huizar said they signed a six-fight deal for three fights this year and three in 2011. Huizar acknowledged that six more fights for Morales, 33, is a reach at this stage.

"We'll see what happens," said Huizar, who said he promoted Morales' first five pro fights before Morales went on to become a major star under the guidance of co-promoters Top Rank and Fernando Beltran's Zanfer Promotions.

Even before the loss to Diaz, Morales was a shell of the great fighter who had been in three all-time slugfests with rival Marco Antonio Barrera and several other memorable battles.

Morales lost four fights in a row and five of his last six, including two knockout losses to Manny Pacquiao. The one victory Morales notched during his late-career slide came against Pacquiao in the first fight of their trilogy. Their March 2005 fight was the last time Pacquiao lost.

Immediately after losing a competitive fight to Diaz, Morales announced his retirement.

"That's it," Morales said at the time. "No more fighting. I am done. Too many punches, particularly to the head area."

Jose Morales, Erik's father who raised him in a Tijuana apartment above a boxing gym, supported his son's decision to retire, saying after the fight with Diaz, "Erik has taken too many punches. It has to stop."

Jose Alfaro (23-5, 20 KOs), 26, of Nicaragua, held a lightweight belt for five months in 2008. His last fight was an interim lightweight title bout in October where Antonio DeMarco stopped him in the 10th round.

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.