Boxing


Erik Morales vs Manny Pacquiao: The Inflection Point

manny pacquiao08.09.06 - By Ted Sares: The Erik Morales-Manny Pacquiao bout scheduled for November 18 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas will feature one fighter at the top of his game and moving with positive momentum and another who is possibly fading, though that will not harm his chances for future induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. "Pac Man" is going up the elevator and "El Terrible" seems to be going down. Here is how I see the inflection point materializing or put another way, how I see their rubber match playing out, but first the breakdown:

Reach and Weight: Morales stands 5’8” and has a 72”reach and uses it well. Pacquiao is 5’6” with a 67”reach. The bout was to be fought at 130 pounds, but Morales will likely have great difficulty making that weight while Manny will be comfortable. Recent photographs reveal Morales has gotten heavier and shows some bloat.

However, for some inexplicable reason (maybe money), Pacquiao has now apparently decided to allow Morales to weigh as much as 132 lbs instead of the agreed 130lb limit. This unexpected allowance can be dangerous for Pacquiao. Erik has the edge in reach, and now the weight issue has been neutralized. Therefore, the advantage here goes to Morales.

Stamina: The days of 12 round brawls with Marco Antonio Barrera are over for Erik Morales. He can no longer sustain that kind of pace. In his last fight, Philippine hero Pacquiao, who fights with sustained intensity, had little trouble with Mexican Oscar Larios to retain his World Boxing Council super bantamweight title over 12 rounds . He knocked down Larios twice with a series of combinations, swelling his left eye nearly shut in an awsome display of power boxing. Stamina for "The Pac Man" will not be an issue. A big edge here for Pacquiao.

Experience: At 30, Morales is only three years older than Pacquiao but Morales, in terms of wear and tear, is considerably "older" having fought too many ferocious battles against quality opposition in his 52 pro bouts (48-4 with 34 ko's). Since turning pro at 16, he scored a number of spectacular wins over such top competition as Marco Antonio Barrera, Carlos Hernandez, Jesus Chavez, Paulie Ayala, Guty Espadas twice, Wayne McCullough, Junior Jones, Jose Luis Bueno, Daniel Zaragoza, Hector Acero-Sanchez and, of course, Manny Pacquiao. More significantly, however, he has lost three of his last four fights, and against both Manny and Zahir Raheem appeared sluggish and unable to get his punches off. In September 2005 he lost the Vacant WBC Inenational Lightweight Title Challenge by a 12-round unanimous decision against former U.S. Olympian Raheem. It was a big upset with Raheem frustrating Erik with lateral movement and tellingly outworking him.

On the other hand, Pacquiao has 43 fights under his belt (39-2-2, with 31 ko's). Manny has the edge in ko percentage, but of more significance, he destroyed Morales in January 2006 by delivering a spectacular performance culminating in a devastating stoppage in the 10th round. Pacquiao was the first to ever stop Morales. Both are warriors who have fought and beat solid opposition. This one is a wash

Chin: Off the last fight with Pacquiao, there are questions about Erik's heretofore reliability to take a punch. Sometimes fighters grow old overnight and that may be the case with Morales. On the other hand, two of Manny's three losses were by ko, the last in 1999 to the very capable Medgoen Singsurat, 44-4 and against Rustico Torrecampo, 14-8, in1996.This might be a chink in the Pacquiao armor, particularly if Erik comes in at 132. Advantage to Morales.

Style: Morales is more multi-dimensional and has the edge in boxing ability, while Pacquiao, pound for pound, is arguably the most devastating puncher in boxing today. Morales is a complete fighter who can brawl or box with equal degrees of success, but that was true of a "younger" Morales. The question is whether his style of fighting has finally caught up with him. For his part, the Pacman, a southpaw, has polished his jab and now includes in his impressive arsenal a sharp and crisp right hook to go with his sledgehammer left. These weapons proved far too much for both El Terrible and Larrios. In a sequence of three fights with Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez and Fahsan 3K Battery, he decked them 9 times. Add two more each for Larrios and Morales and you are now up to 13!

Both have high boxers IQ's though Manny can at time lose focus and Erik can be taken off his game by his willingness to engage in unnecessary wars.

Going with power over boxing, I give the overall advantage to Pacquiao in this all important category..

Intangibles: Morales may have more machismo than is good for him. That was evident in the 12th round of his first fight with Pacquiao when he chose to engage in a fierce brawl even though he was ahead on points. If that scenario repeats itself in November, it could prove fatal. Morales has been through a lot, both physically and emotionally, including many brutal wars in the ring and a recent split up with his wife. Another intangible is that Morales is Managed and trained by his father, Jose (which can be both good or bad depending on circumstances). Manny, one of the most exciting fighters in the sport of boxing, is trained by Freddy Roach and the two seem extremely comfortable with one another. Finally, if Morales has in fact bloated up, he may need to struggle and agonize with an unwilling body to get down to weight, even the new one allowed by the Pacquiao camp. If so, this can have a negative impact. Clear nod to Manny on this one.

Prediction: Manny Pacquiao has lost only one fight since 1999.....and he avenged that loss in destructive fashion. He is at the top of his game. Can the same be said for El Terrible? I see Manny dictating the action after the second round, picking up the pace and then nullifying Morales' reach and skill advantage by putting relentless pressure on him and then luring him into a brawl. Once again, Morales' warrior heart will take over but this time it will prove to be his undoing, for it will take more than heart to hold off the incoming, relentless and merciless Pac Man. For the second time, I see him stopping El Terrible in the mid to late rounds.

Ted Sares is a syndicated writer who can be reached at tedsares@adelphia.net

Article posted on 08.09.2006



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