Erik Morales vs Manny Pacquiao – “El Terrible” At The Crossroads

12.03.05 - By Matthew Hurley: In 2004’s fight of the year Erik Morales came within two points of beating his arch rival Marco Antonio Barerra in the third bout of their magnificent trilogy. Two points and suddenly Morales is facing questions and doubters as he jumps back into the fire against the fearsome puncher Manny Pacquiao. In a glorious career that has seen “El Terrible” win belts in three different divisions he is somehow being forced into proving himself all over again. Morales may occasionally look to the heavens for answers himself but it is in this very position where he seems to metamorphose into an angry, seething man determined to beat down everything in his path..

Still, the fighter he opposes on March 19th may present Morales with an even tougher challenge than Barrera posed. After all it was Pacquiao who destroyed Barrera when they met and his style is perfectly suited to bring out the macho disregard Erik often shows for his boxing skills when fights get heated. It’s that unwillingness to back down from a slugfest that makes both of these fighters such fan favorites. However, after such a dramatic bout against Barrera many of the questions being asked of Morales concern whether or not he is taking on too much to soon. But Erik is nothing if not relentless in his pursuit of fistic glory.

It’s people like Emanuel Steward who seem to bring out the devil in Erik. In Ring Magazine’s year end poll Steward not only disregarded Erik as “too inconsistent” but refused to even rank him in the top twelve of the pound for pound rankings. How can a fighter who has fought at the highest level for nearly eight years, and only lost twice – his rubber match against Barrera and their rematch which many, yours truly included felt he won – not be accorded the respect he so obviously deserves by one of the best trainers in boxing? In fact the entire HBO broadcast team has so long preferred Barrera to Morales that it is little wonder Erik always seems to glare at Larry Merchant during pre and post-fight interviews. The proud kid from Tijuana, who first put on a pair of boxing gloves at four years old, does not forgive slights easily.

Fortunately Morales and Pacquiao greatly respect and, dare I say it, even admire one another. They both see themselves as fighters who pride themselves on giving the fans what they want. Pacquiao has even been embraced by many of Erik’s Mexican countrymen.

“Pacquiao comes to fight,” Morales recently said. “He looked great against Barrera and (Juan Manuel) Marquez, but I’m different from them. I think I’ll be able to box with him. But I’ll exchange with him too.”

“He’s a warrior,” Pacquiao responded, his ever present smile on his face. “It will be a great fight.”

Some wonder if Morales, after countless ring wars is wearing down. Against Barrera in November it took him nearly six rounds to get on track. Overconfidence may have played into that, or maybe his body didn’t react like it normally would because the wear and tear of a forty-nine bout career is catching up to him.

“Against Barrera my body just didn’t respond like I wanted. I don’t know why. I don’t want it to happen again. I’m certain it will not.”

His fight with Pacquiao is unquestionably a cross road bout for Erik. If he wins he’s back on top yet again. If he loses his ring future becomes cloudy.

“I’m ready to fight him. Everyone knows what Erik Morales is all about. I make fights people want to see. I only fight the best.”

On March 19 he does it yet again.

Writer’s Note: You can pre-order a DVD copy of the Morales – Pacquiao fight at

Article posted on 12.03.2005

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