King Raheem Upsets Morales

11.09.05 - By Wray Edwards: What was supposed to have been a run-up show-case for Morales-Pacquiao 2, turned into a coming out party for Zahir "King" Raheem, who schooled what appeared to be a fading Erik Morales. In an exciting contest at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last night, Zahir Raheem's superior speed, accuracy and balance brought the 1996 Olympian one giant step closer to the recognition he has sought for many years.

In the "main event", which followed the Hector Velazquez-Manny Pacquiao half of the HBO presentation, a largely Morales fan base was to witness the almost complete humiliation of their Mexican hero. As a stunned Julio Cesar Chavez and a blank-faced Pacquiao watched in what must have been utter disbelief and chagrin, Raheem took Morales apart like a stolen car in a chop-shop. They way things turned out, Zahir had less to fear from Morales than he did from the painted logo in the middle of the ring...more about that later.

ROUND ONE was your basic square dance which generally informed us that Raheem was faster and Morales was slower. Neither fighter was all that, so we found it a wash, 10/10. It still seems disingenuous of the sport to allow two Welter weights to fight for a lightweight title. Oh well, a rose by any other name, a fight's a fight..

ROUND TWO was punctuated by a big Zahir right (1:03) which was set up by his increasing left jab. 0:44 both fighters go down in a heap as it appears that Raheem has slipped on something, 10/9 (20/19) Raheem.

ROUND THREE saw Zahir electing to spend some time going toe-to-toe with Erik, demonstrating vicious counters, and taking basic control of the tempo and style of the fight. Morales wanted to brawl and Raheem wanted to slick-box. Zahir pretty much got his way. In general, when Morales staggered in, off balance, with awkward leads, Raheem would tussle a bit, but quickly tied things up until Referee John Schorle broke them up. John did an excellent job, and nicely expedited the action, 10/9 (30/28) Raheem.

ROUND FOUR was opened by Morales backing up quite a bit which, at one point, left him against the ropes. So Zahir feints a left jab 1:55 and just clobbers Erik with a serious right. Some gave Morales the round, but as the HBO crew observed, it was probably Erik's improvement over his earlier round efforts though not enough to out-score Raheem, 10/9 (40/37) Raheem.

ROUND FIVE was the most eventful frame of the fight and a harbinger of the futility of Erik's quest, no matter what he tried. Zahir sent the jab-o-meter off the scale in this round with embarrassingly rapid, multiple lefts which had Morales looking like Oscar V Felix. After a really nice right 2:11 Raheem backs around a bit and then looks down at a spot on the canvass. What was that? We don't know yet, but we will soon find out. At 1:48 Erik throws a pretty fair right upper-cut which trips a Raheem counter reflex left hook right out of Lacy's play-book.

A bit later, 1:03, Erik tries a left jab which misses Raheem near the ropes. Oh, Oh! Morales has just pushed Zahir's counter button again. Raheem's left taps Erik's right guard away just enough to allow a following right to smash into Erik's face, causing a glistening cloud of sweat to burst from Morales' hair. Four seconds later Raheem's right foot slips on a red logo painted on the canvass and he goes down. The round ends as Raheem continued to show superior head and body movement combined with accurate punching, 10/9 (50/46) Raheem.

ROUND SIX was like watching "boxing on ice". 2:33 Zahir slips down. 1:56 Raheem's left foot again slides across the red and green paints. 1:50 Raheem asks ref if something can be done about the slippery canvass. 1:29 Zahir makes a left paw-jab at Erik's left chest and neck/chin followed by a huge, fully cocked right which drives Morales staggering backward across the ring. As he sags into the ropes Morales nods acknowledgement to Raheem that he was well and truly rocked. 0:57 as Raheem throws a left at Erik's body, both feet slip on the red and green, 10/9 (60/55) Raheem (Advertising paint on canvass 10).

Between rounds they cut to Cesar Chavez who appears totally spooked and has the look of a brook-trout in his befuddled eyes.

ROUND SEVEN was Morales' best frame of the main body of the fight. Meaning that it was in the middle of the fight and not part of a last ditch effort so-to-speak. He out-worked Zahir and just seemed to take the initiative for the first time. Time was called, 0:22, for Erik's corner to tie his shoelace 9/10 (69/65) round to Morales.

ROUND EIGHT was time, 2:09, for Zahir to help Morales with his coif as he blasted the sweat out of it again with another big right. 0:22 Zahir shows he can pull the trigger faster than Erik with a flashy "one-two", 10/9 (79/74) Raheem.

ROUND NINE was more of the same with Raheem in almost total control. The author doesn't remember much about that round, as he couldn't quite get the image of Manny sitting on Gary Shaw's lap as they watched the fight, 10/9 (89/83) Raheem.

ROUND TEN had Raheem going down at 2:07 with both of Erik's forearms on the back of his neck. Twice in the round Zahir delivered eight or so punches in a row, as he hypnotized Morales with his quick and elusive style. Raheem put a period on the round with a head-turning left hook, 10/9 (99/92) Raheem.

ROUND ELEVEN went to Morales who began to look quite desperate, but managed to rough Zahir up a bit. Erik was probably spurred on by the "fabulous" pep talks and encouragements of his father with statements like "Let's go!!" and "The other guy is just trying to survive to impress the judges. He's not doing much".and my personal favorite: "The ref is against us". At 2:21 Erik also slips on the paint. 1:59 Morales throws a pretty fair three punch combo to which Zahir lifts is gloves in the air. 0:21 Raheem slips again.

At 0:04 Morales finally lands a serious, lead right which staggers Raheem to his right and his glove touches the canvass. The ref misses the touch (which was his only gaff of the fight). Five or six replays convinced the author that it was indeed a touch, dropping Raheem to an eight for the round which, however, he did win, overall, thus: 8/9 (107/101) Round to Morales.

ROUND TWELVE was Raheem's time to box around and pretty much wrap things up by staying away with Morales awkwardly stumbling after him trying to throw a "Hail Mary" punch to pull it out. No such luck Erik. Good boxers beat good punchers. It's as simple as that. 10/9 (117/110) Raheem.

So Raheem gets the WBC ILWC belt and makes a statement. He was charmingly candid at one point in the post fight interview when asked if he was surprised that he was able to tag Morales so easily. He thought for a moment and then said yes with a bit-of-a-smile as he said, "I'm not going to be cocky." Another Philly guy comes out swinging and carries the day. Good for him, bad for the Packster. Even though Erik's camp scoffed at Larry for asking if the January 21, 2006 fight is still on, even a casual observer who saw Manny's fight might have doubts about the wisdom of that pairing.

There was one rather sour surprise in the ring after the match. When Raheem went over to sign off with Erik, Morales basically snubbed him and did not show the least bit of sportsmanship. He even told Larry that Zahir wouldn't "fight". Huh!!?

As for the absurd "ENTREGA-IMMEDIATA Servicio Express a Mexico AEG" advertising painted on the canvass, the advertiser would do well to consider the ire and dismay of boxing fans who are forced to watch these brave men slip around on their painted logos. In this writer's opinion, their selfish disregard for the safety of the fighters is pathetic. This has been going on for too long and needs to be stopped. This writer would never consider patronizing a company which endangers these fine athletes with their corporate babble.

The boxing commissions had better do something about these ridiculous ads before somebody really gets hurt. An apprentice painter, wet behind the ears, can tell you how to make such graphics non-skid, if they must be there. Besides, many of us pay to receive HBO, and are not pleased to be forced to watch a printed commercial all throughout a boxing match.

Finally, it was refreshing to see Raheem so completely dominate Morales that there was no possibility that Erik would be given a bogus Sturm-De La Hoya style decision to somehow validate the rematch of Manny and Erik. Of course they may still fight, and it will be a good draw. It might even be a good fight, as those two are working on their own Gatti-Ward relationship. The 135 guys are in for a few surprises in the next year or so. They sure are fun to watch. Rock on fight fans.

Article posted on 11.09.2005

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