Boxing


Sharkie's Machine: Thoughts About Manny Pacquiao vs Erik Morales

16.03.05 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: After watching, "The Contender" on Sunday, I'm ready for some REAL boxing. "The Contender" has some potential but it makes the same mistake Oscar De La Hoya's boxing program (that aired last year) made; they only show 15 second snippets of each round. The program focuses more on non-boxing competitions and interactions instead of duke outs in the square circle.

I'm thinking about this Saturday's showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Tijuana native, Erik Morales, complete with a scheduled 12 rounds of three uninterrupted minutes of pugilism per round. But I doubt this fight goes the distance.

There is a school of thought vested in the logic that, if Pacquiao beat Barrera and Barrera beat Morales, then Morales cannot beat Pacquiao. Not necessarily so. In Football, they say, "On any given Sunday." Well, the same applies in boxing. After all, Morales destroyed Junior Jones (by TKO 4), the man who beat Barrera twice, though eventually, Barrera would win twice over Morales, (though the first win was controversial). The past has no place in the present outside of reference points. When the best face each other, anything can happen..

At 28 years old, Morales has 49 pro fights under his belt, and can almost be considered 'old' in boxing years. Unless Morales has peaked and is on the decline, there's no reason to believe he will be an easy victory for Pacquiao. And who ever knows what will happen? It's cliche but boxing truly is the 'theater of the unexpected.' I expect nothing less than a great fight, maybe worthy of Fight of the Year Honors. I don't see this going the distance but if it does-that favors Morales. If I knew this fight would end in the third round, but the messenger didn't say who would win-I'd bet it was Pacquaio.

Trying to handicap this fight is bizarre because it's a strange confrontation of styles.

Morales (47-2-0-34 KO's) is a boxer-brawler who takes some shots to deliver his own when he gets inside. If there's anything suspect about Erik, it might be his defense. But he has a chin of iron, tremendous stamina, and a non-stop offense. He has never been stopped and I can't recall him ever being knocked down.

Pacquiao, (39-2-2-31 KO's) is a brawler-boxer who finishes fights quickly and decisively with his powerful combinations accentuated by big left hooks. Pacquiao imposes his will on opponents. He comes on like a typhoon and takes away an opponent's ability to execute a game plan because they're too busy covering up on defense. Manny has only lost twice-but both by KO (to Medgoen Singsurat of Thailand, who was 18-0 when they fought in 1999 and in 1996, to Rustico Torrecampo, of the Philippines, whose record was 11-4-4).

Morales and Pacquiao are warriors. Both feed on a pretty steady diet of the best competition. Both represent everything fight fans respect in a prizefighter, heart, skill and a fight anybody, warrior mentality.

Manny Pacquiao is riding a tidal wave of popularity that was punctuated by his vicious victory over the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003, when Barrera's corner threw in the towel after 11 rounds of being eaten up by Pacman. After a Draw with J.M. Marquez last May and the quick dispatch of Fahsan (3K Battery) Por Thawatchai by TKO 4 last December, Pacquaio is a
most dangerous proposition for Erik Morales.

After the humiliating loss to Pacquiao, Barrera rose back up with a full heart in his next two fights, beating the tar out of Paulie Ayala (35-2-0-12 KO's) in June of 2004 and in November, finally beating Erik Morales WITHOUT controversy, demonstrating that either he just had a really bad night out against Pacquaio-or that Pacman is THAT good. To the disappointment of this scribe, Barrera has expressed absolutely no interest in a rematch with Pacman. One major rivalry was enough for M.A.B.

Now, Morales is in a similar position, seeking to reaffirm himself as one of the best fighters in the business by taking on a most dangerous opponent-the same man who beat the man that beat him. Pacquaio may be smaller and a bit one dimensional, but what a dimension! You gotta take your hat off to Morales though; a lot of lesser men have quietly disappeared after a gut wrenching defeat in front of the world audience. Can anyone say, Naseem Hamed?

Pacquiao is going to explode all over Morales next Saturday. How Morales handles the onslaught will determine his fortunes in this fight. Juan Manuel Marquez left a blueprint for Morales on how to deal with Pacman's powerful left hooks-outbox him and take that weapon away.

The question is-can Morales box as well as J.M. Marquez did? Marquez got up from three staggering knockdowns in the first round and not just survived, but in some eyes, won the fight by decision, though officially, it was deemed a Draw. In my view, Marquez did render Pacquiao ineffective for ten of the eleven rounds that followed his triple trip to the canvas in the first.

Morales may be one of the best in boxing. but he does get hit a lot. And its because he throws so many punches, that of course, he constantly avails himself to counter punches. All Pacquiao needs to do is land a few of his signature punches early and the world will find out if Morales is capable of taking Pacman's pop. If he can, it will be an uphill battle for the Philippine Featherweight Superstar.

Morales has 34 KO's on his record for a reason. He is not renowned for his power but for his tenacity and he is a connoisseur of landing accurate punches from awkward angles, the accumulation of which, stop his opponents more times than not. One of his most effective shots is the uppercut, delivered in close, right before or after a clinch. The problem is, getting too close to the shorter armed Pacman might not be a smart strategy.

Look for Pacquiao to go right after Morales and try to end it early. Look for Morales to keep him under control on the outside and take Pacquiao into the deep waters of the Championship rounds, where all the questions will be answered. I have a hunch that a controversial decision will decide this contest and the result will be a new rivalry that sells a lot of tickets.

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Comments can be emailed to dshark87@hotmail.com

Article posted on 16.03.2005



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