15.11.06 - By Dwight Boyd:Super featherweight Manny Pacquiao (42-3-2, 33 KO's) will take on Erik Morales (48-4, 34 KO's) on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas. This bout is the 3rd bout between the two fighters, with the first two fights being split with one victory a piece for each fighter. Morales, a marvelous fighter, who has won championships in several weight classes, is the more skilled fighter of the two. He's had epic battles with Marco Antonio Barrera, which will go down in history as being some of the most exciting boxing ever.
Article posted on 15.11.2006
However, those battle have seem to have had an ill effect on Morales, possibly aging him well beyond his 30 years. All the same, at this point, it's not entirely clear whether Morales poor performances in recent bouts has been caused by age or, more likely, living the good life and not focusing enough attention on conditioning.
In the first fight in March 2005, Morales used his superior height and reach advantage to dominate Pacquiao from the outside, winning a 12-round decision. Morales, who has always excellent offensive skills, controlled the fight with his fierce combinations and strong jabs, which prevented the shorter Pacquiao from getting within punching range. More often than not, when Morales was throwing punches, Pacquiao would freeze up and stop punching in return, a weakness that Morales would take advantage of all fight long.
Having won the battle, Morales seemed to ease up on his conditioning, because in his next bout in September 2005, he lost a unanimous decision to Zahir Raheem. Morales appeared heavier and slower, as if he hadn't trained as hard for the bout. The loss was shocking, to say the least, considering that Morales was expected to easily beat Raheem, who many felt wasn't in the same class as Morales.
Further, Morales didn't look good, seeming to lack his customary power and ring movement. In post fight comments, it was learned that Morales had taken off a great deal of weight to lightweight weight limit, leaving him weak afterwards.
This same weight problem would haunt Morales in his next bout, a rematch with Pacquiao in January 2006. Just looking at Morales, you could tell that he had taken off a dramatic amount of weight, judging from his hallow cheeks, and his weak and dehydrated look. He didn't look fit enough to go for a walk in the park, much less to fight a strenuous 12-round bout.
Never the less, Morales started strong, easily winning the first five rounds, shooting strong jabs, and keeping Pacquiao on the outside. However, from the 6th round on, Pacquiao's relentless attack gradually wore Morales down over the rounds. Finally, in round 10, Morales' legs seemed too weary to carry his slender frame, and he caved in without getting hit hard, going down to the canvas.
Since then, Morales, who had ballooned up in weight since his loss to Pacquiao, has been forced once again to take off a dramatic amount of weight to make this Saturday night's fight. Whether the weight loss will negatively effect him, remains to be seen. However, given the fact that Morales has lost his last two bouts, and received tremendous beatings in the process, it doesn't appear too promising for him.
To me, it seems painfully obvious that he has simply outgrown the super lightweight class and either needs to move up in weight or retire for good. Nevertheless, stranger things have happened, and if he can win the first half of the fight and coast in the 2nd half, Morales still has a good chance at beating Pacquiao. However, Morales will need to be able to box and stay away from slugging with Pacquiao, otherwise this fight will likely end just like the last bout, with Morales being stopped around the 8th or 9th round. Personally, I predict that Pacquiao will dominate the fight, destroying Morales in the process and finishing his career. Prediction: Pacquiao by 7th round KO.