Boxing


Pacquiao vs Morales - A Writer As A Fan

23.02.05 - By Matthew Hurley: The upcoming fight between Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao is one every boxing fan is looking forward to. It is a match-up of two little superstars whose fighting spirit has overshadowed the efforts of boxers who outweigh them by 20, 30 even 100 pounds. These two champions represent all that is good about the sport of boxing which leads me to a dilemma in this particular instance. When writing about an upcoming bout I usually try to don a reporter's hat of distant perspective. This article is different and if you are a fan of Manny Pacquiao, as I am by the way, you may elect to either discontinue reading or disavow my comments with stony silence or angry e-mails.

The simple fact is, Erik Morales is my favorite fighter and has been for years now. When it comes to writing, on any subject, I try to be as objective as I can. With boxing, however, it is difficult because I will always be a fan first and a writer second. My writing professors and my lone journalism teacher would "tsk, tsk" me with a wave of their index fingers, but having written nearly fifty pieces for this site alone I think I'm entitled to a bit of fist pumping fan enthusiasm. That's the emotive response for sporting events anyway if you're a fan.

My love for boxing and for sports in general began with Muhammad Ali. I was just a young boy and Ali was at the tail end of his career but he was a god in my eyes. Such was my desire to be like him that I would be willing to toss a jab in anyone's face on the playground. Not a very smart move considering I was awkwardly growing into a tall, thin body that lacked any physical coordination. At least, the very least, I could take a punch. Boxing was now forever in my blood.

And then along came Thomas Hearns.

I refuse to wax poetic about the "Hitman" because I've done so before, but he remains, and always will remain, my sports idol. Much like my father talks in reverential tones about Ted Williams, I can lean back, beer in hand, and talk endlessly about the man who stormed out of Detroit and thrilled me, broke my heart and ultimately made me realize that no other athlete would ever affect me as he did.

After that came Evander Holyfield that undersized, primal force of nature. Now it's Erik Morales.

Morales entranced me early on in his career. His style suits my particular prerequisites for a fighter fearless and gifted, but flawed. Much like Hearns and Holyfield there is always that sense of drama and danger on the grand stage that Morales could lose. But should he lose he will go out on his shield. He will nearly kill himself not only to win but to please his fans. That's the essence of a warrior and that's what makes him special. Ali had it, Hearns had it, Holyfield had it and Morales has it.

As I write this, as a fan, I'm worried. I'm worried just as I worried whenever Tommy Hearns stepped into the ring. It's a fan's passion, not just for the sport, but for my hero. It's a feeling that intensifies as the bout draws closer and closer until I sit in my black, leather recliner in front of the television set on the fateful night of the fight and nearly squeeze my beer bottle into shards of glass from the nervous tension.

Manny Pacquiao is a wonderful fighter and I'm a big fan of his. But Erik Morales is my favorite. I'm certain ardent fans of both fighters will be sitting on opposite sides of the fistic fence come fight night, cheering them on but rocking back and forth nervously, or crushing beer bottles because if they're honest with themselves they know that this fight can go either way. However long it lasts it will be extraordinary and emotionally taxing. That's boxing at its best and that's what being a true fan is all about.

Article posted on 23.02.2005



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