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Boxing News of Sunday, 30 December 2001

Source: Top Rank

Alex Ali Baba Fights Eric Morel on Jan. 11 in Puerto Rico

World Boxing Association (WBA) flyweight champion Eric Morel will fight at home for the first time when he takes on Alex Ali Baba of Ghana in the main event of a card presented by Top Rank Inc. and P.R. Best Boxing Promotions to be held at the "Coliseo Hector Sola Bezares" in the city of Caguas.

Morel (30-0, 17 KOs) and Baba (18-2, 14 KOs), the World Boxing Council (WBC) number sixth ranked flyweight, will battle in a 10 round non-title flyweight bout that will be televised world wide by ESPN2 during its "Friday Night Fights."

The card marks the return of local boxing sensation Miguel Cotto (6-0, 4 KOs) who will be in action for the first time since suffering an injury due to an automobile accident in August.

Morel, a long time resident of Wisconsin, represented the United States in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, but has always had a very special feeling for Puerto Rico, where he was born and where many of his relatives still reside.

"Ever since I turned professional I have always wanted to fight in Puerto Rico and finally my dream will come true. I know the people will be behind me, they have always supported me and will continue to do so because this is where I came from," said Morel.

Morel won the WBA's 112 pound crown on August 5, 2000 in Madison, Wisconsin with a 12 round decision triumph over Sornpichai Pisnurachank of Thailand with a very strong boxing performance.

Morel, 26, has successfully defended his title three times by out pointing Alberto Ontiveros and Gilberto Keb Bass and in his most recent bout on June 8 of last year in Baraboo, Wisconsin he stopped Jose Lopez in the ninth round.

Baba, 31, of Accra has shown in his professional career that he's a powerful puncher as 14 of his 18 wins have come by knockout as he climbs up the world rankings. In his most recent effort on October 26, 2001 in Thailand, Baba lost an eight round technical decision to Pongsaklek Sitkanongsak in a bout for the WBC flyweight championship.

For the fans of Caguas, the return to the ring of their favorite son Miguel Cotto will be something very special for it will be the first time Cotto will be fighting in his hometown since he turned professional last year.

Cotto, 21, considered the best amateur boxer to ever come out of Puerto Rico, represented his country in the 1999 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and as a professional has quickly become one of the best prospects in the world. Cotto won his first six professional fights, two of them in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in his most recent effort on July 28, 2001 in Los Angeles, California he stopped the more experienced ArturoRodriguez in the second round with a sizzling performance.

After his big win over Rodriguez, Cotto was scheduled to fight on August in Puerto Rico but he hurt his right shoulder in an automobile accident. The young boxer rehabilitated in Las Vegas, Nevada for nearly three months and is now ready to continue his professional career.

Cotto will be featured in an eight round super lightweight bout. Also on the card will be another long time former member of the Puerto Rican Olympic team, Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon, who also had a very successful first year as a professional after representing his country in the 2000 games in Sydney.

Calderon (7-0, 2 KOs) who is on the fast track to a world title shot will continue to stay active this year as he takes on better and more experience opponents. Calderon, 26, will be featured in an eight round mini flyweight bout. One more Cotto will also be on the card, Jose Miguel Cotto (18-0, 11 KO's) undefeated older brother of Miguel and a world ranked featherweight boxer.

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