Boxing


Pacquiao-Morales: A Career Ender For “El Terrible?”

manny pacquiao19.11.06 - By Wray Edwards: Many fighters from Feather to Lightweight can remain competitive into their middle or even late thirties. Two critical factors which contribute to the long or the short of it are physical and mental battle scars. Having now lost four of his last five fights with ever increasing punishment, it is no wonder that as he sat on the canvass with the thousand yard stare, Erik Morales shook his head in resignation.

Even as he walked to the ring, he had the look of one on the way to the dentist for a root canal. With half-smiles and eyes down he seemed reluctant to even be there. Manny didn’t look much better, but at least had a game face. Here was a guy who had recently been clearly out-pointed by Zahir Raheem, stepping into the ring with, IMO, a rising, top five PFP fighter well on this side of the hill. What was he thinking? Knowing when to quit is half the game in Boxing. It enables one to avoid a senseless beating, especially at the end of a grand career. There are those who say, “He should have gone out on his shield.”

I would much rather see that reality check, blank stare, than have a great fighter sacrifice himself and his future health to the blood lust of the fans, or some masochistic ethic.

Kostya Tszyu stepped back v Hatton. Frazier stayed home v Ali and many other fighters have hit the wall and knew it, or decided to bag this one, and get back to the camp and train better for a rematch. Of course a clean KO avoids these messy decisions, but a series of evermore punishing knock-downs or thrashings which clearly and accurately predict the outcome, should be taken as enticements to use common sense.

Last night’s fight was an excellent example of a professional fighter yielding to the dictum that “discretion is the better part of valor”. Boxing matches are much, much more than just sex and violence. They are, many times, a passion play in which we see, in microcosm, great decisions being made which bear one one’s honor, reputation and future health and wealth. Morales-Paquiao III was such a fight.

ROUND ONE was the usual parade lap as the drivers heat their tyres and jostle with the competition, scraping their hooves in the dirt and snorting. Manny was more aggressive and was exercising his new-found right to good effect. It’s kinda like that first hit in a football game…it chases away the butterflies and sets the tone for action. Pacman took the round as Erik did not seem ready to start fast as pre-fight speculation had predicted.

The first significant punch came with 1:02 to go in the First Round as Erik threw a left and Manny countered with his right over Erik’s arm as Morales re-cocked his left to double up but missed as he fell to his right from the force of Manny’s right. The last minute of the round got things up to speed as Morales began charging, driving Manny to the ropes at times. The first time against the ropes Paquiao did a pretty humorous foot shuffle of which Ali would have been quite proud.

I noticed that unless Erik was in full attack, his arm motions seemed a bit listless, whereas almost every stroke by Manny had tension and purpose.

ROUND TWO cranked up in earnest at 2:32 as Paquiao made his first really furious charge with a four or five punch combination. Erik just did avoid getting significantly tagged by any of them, but from the look of it, it was just a matter of time. After some pretty good action which saw both fighters drive each other across the ring to the ropes making good contact…at 1:11Manny caught Erik with a left just below Morales’ right ear.

Just before that Erik had Manny at the ropes and falling at a forty-five degree angle to his left. Erik misses a left and a right…Manny throws a right which reached full extension before hitting Erik in the face…Erik counters right which sails over Pac’s right shoulder as he ducks forward. Then, before Morales can recover his right guard, Manny throws the sweeping left and Morales goes down on left knee and right glove. Erik took his eight and gutted it out to the end of the round in heavy punch and counter with Manny.

THIRD ROUND’S THE CHARM.

At 2:05, after picking up where they left off at the end of Two, Manny sells a punch to Erik’s mid-section which causes Morales to drop his left guard, whereupon Manny throws a crushing right chin-checker to Erik’s head who reels and counterattacks. At 1:36 Morales throws a straight left at too great a range and allows the glove to drop during recovery from which he tries to double up. Alas his second left was thrown from too low allowing a stiff and fully loaded Pacman right to check off Erik’s head.

Manny follows the retreating Morales with repeated lefts driving him to ring center. At 1:27 Manny throws a right straight down the pipe between Erik’s gloves. The punch folds him up as he reels back from a Pacman half-right which is followed by a point blank left which drops the fading Morales to his right knee and into the ropes. Morales rolls right with his head near the canvass and struggles to his feet. Ref Vic Drakulich checks the fighter during the eight and prepares to reset the match.

Just then Manny comes moving in as Vic looks over his shoulder to get Paquiao’s eye for the restart. Upon seeing Manny moving in before being invited Vic sends him back to make sure Pac’s first move is upon his (the Ref’s) explicit instruction. Then one of the HBO crew (Possibly the irritating white-haired geezer) yells out “What is he doing?” as if the Ref is giving Erik too much time. Thankfully, Manny Steward explains to the dolt that a fighter must remain in a neutral corner after a KD until called out by the Ref, rather than just creeping up behind the Ref’s back before he’s ready to resume.

Back in action, they both let it all hang out with tremendous shots and contact. Erik hit Manny with one shot equal to or better than the blast delivered to Manny’s head by JMM back in May of ’04, which caused the TV image of Manny’s head to blur so much it looked like it was being sucked through a wormhole into a parallel universe. The Pacster walked right through it.

Then, as Erik retreated with his left guard at about mid chest Manny set his left foot and lunged a right which fell short, followed by a huge left right on Erik’s kisser. Any fencing master would have been pleased. Morales went down pretty much in the same place he had the last two times, but this time he drew his knees up, rested his forearms on them in the realization that his boxing career was probably over. At 0:09 he took a deep breath, shook his head and made peace with himself.

The stats showed Manny to have been fully twice as effective as Morales. Manny’s camp and fans were transported by his victory; A great victory also for Shelley Finkel…couldn’t happen to a better guy.

It has been a pure pleasure to watch a scruffy, one-dimensional fighter from the Philippines mature into a world class boxer with expanded skills and repertoire move into the mainstream of our sport. One thing has not changed though: Manny’s focused aggression.

For what it’s worth, IMO Erik should retire. He has been there and done that…so many of us hope you find a new direction and go with our thanks and admiration El Terrible. See you at the fights.

Article posted on 19.11.2006



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