Pacquiao-Morales: The fight that boxing fans have been waiting for!

26.01.05 - By Matthew Hurley: As 2004 came to a close the boxing world succumbed to hibernation. The year ended on a brilliant high note with the ferocious rubber match between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barerra. The fight was so great it left the void of big time boxing in the ensuing months in a hazy shade of reflective excitement and anticipation. There were potential matchups on the horizon but nothing to really get the fans salivating. There was the continuation of Felix Trinidad's comeback, which ultimately resulted in a May date with Winky Wright. There was a talked about fight between Arturo Gatti and Floyd Mayweather; but Floyd's outside legal activities could derail that bout. And there was the winding down of Bernard Hopkins' brilliant reign as middleweight champion. All good, but nothing too spectacular. Then, out of the blue, Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao signed on the dotted line to go to war against one another and the boxing world gasped, and then collectively roared it's approval. Only a few months in and what could be the fight of the year is fast approaching..

Both fighters are to be commended, particularly Morales after his difficult loss to Barrera in 2004's fight of the year. It was thought that Pacquiao would rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez in what was the runner up for fight of the year, but Marquez apparently priced himself out of the bout. Undeterred, Pacquiao, his boyish grin firmly set on his face, confidently stepped up and signed on to fight the third peg in the Mexican trio he has steadfastly stated he is determined to destroy.

"I will beat them all," he says confidently. "All of them."

He's beaten Barrera, brutally, drew with Marquez and now faces off against his mirror image. Morales, for all his skills, will not present Pacquiao with the deft boxing skills of Marquez, even though he possesses them. He will not present him with the counterpunching skills of Barrera, even though he possesses them. Morales' biggest flaw as a fighter, and perhaps his only flaw, is what makes him so compelling, so exciting and what makes this fight such a potential bonfire. He negates his skills because he simply loves to brawl. It makes fights more difficult for him than they should be but it also makes those fights so much fun to watch and he prides himself on his warrior's mentality.

"I come to fight," he says before every fight. "I give the fans what they want. I'm a true fighter and a true champion. I leave everything in the ring."

In Pacquiao he will encounter a fighter of the same mindset. Such is Manny's popularity among boxing fans that on a recent trip to Mexico he was accorded nothing short of a hero's welcome. It may seem odd that Mexican fans would embrace a fighter set to do battle with a national hero but Pacquiao's relentless style and willingness to trade has endeared him to Mexican fight fans. He, like Morales, comes to fight and that is what Mexican boxing fans expect from their warriors.

"He's a true fighter," remarked one fan. "He gives it his all and when he's got nothing left, he gives some more. Just like Morales."

Morales, still quietly seething over his loss to Barrera, admitted that tackling Pacquiao will not be an easy task. "I'm looking forward to a great fight," he said. "He is a true champion and I only want to fight the best."

As Morales and Pacquiao stood side by side, fists clenched, at the press conference to announce the fight there was a sense that something truly exceptional will happen on March 19th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Both fighters respectfully acknowledged one another, but it was obvious that once that bell rings one of them will hit the canvas. There will be no boxing match when these two gladiators start swapping leather. It will be a train wreck and boxing fans will hold their breath until one of these terrific fighters falls.

"This is what boxing is all about," said an elated fan. "This is what it should be about. Two great fighters putting it all on the line. I can't wait."

Article posted on 26.01.2005

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