17.03.05 - By Jim Amato: The day the bout between Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao was announced I just felt that Erik was going to come out on top. Why ? At that time I'm not sure. Just a gut feeling I guess. I knew that Erik had just lost a legitimate decision to Marco Antonio Barrera. I knew that Manny had nearly put Juan Marquez out early and then had to settle for a disputed draw. I remembered how Manny had so savagely taken apart Barrera and stopped him. With all that on the plate it would seem most logical to pick Manny to defeat Morales. Still my immediate reaction was to choose Morales as the probable winner.
It has been several weeks and I have had ample time to reconsider my decision. Guess what ? I still feel the same way. Here's why. Pacquiao's a fast starter. He may be the quicker handed and harder puncher. With all this considered the first few rounds will be very tough for Erik.
In Morales favor, though, is that he is very adept in using his height and reach and with that in mind I see him surviving those crucial rounds with guts and guile. The key in all of this is that Erik has a proven major league chin.
If Erik survives the early fireworks he will establish his jab. Then he will start landing effective counter right hands that will put some pain on Pacquiao. Remember too that Morales is a pretty effective infighter. If he is drawn into some trench exchanges he has proved that he could hold his own.
In the final breakdown I see Manny winning early on and then Morales coming on to close out the show by decision or a possible late round KO.