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Reclaiming lost glory, which Morales will turn up on Saturday night?

20.10.06 - Andy Meacock: I wrote an article last September after Erik Morales lost to Zahir Raheem. In my article, I speculated on the possible reasons that Morales looked so bad that night against Raheem. At the time I mentioned a few possible reasons such as a bad match up of styles, long-term fatigue and that I felt Morales was not suited for the 135lp division..

I do still believe that Erik Morales is slowing down. This is understandable when you consider his rough style of fighting and the level of opposition he has faced. All athletes reach a point when their peak has passed and I do feel that Morales is perhaps just past that peak.

Now all of this speculation over Morales will be answered on Saturday when he competes in possibly the most important fight of his great career, the rematch with Manny Pacquiao. The first fight between the two in March last year was a true classic and Morales won a close points decision.

Comparing Morales’ last two opponents, Pacquiao and Raheem, is like comparing night and day. In Pacquiao, you have an aggressive fighter who loves to fight on the front foot and throws punches with explosive power. Raheem on the other hand is very slick and prefers to box rather than just trade. So on that basis it is impossible to really judge Morales as his two fights were against very different opponents.

What other factors are involved in this fight?

The Gloves

After losing the first fight, Pacquiao complained a great deal about the fact he was forced to use Winning gloves, rather than his preferred choice of Reyes gloves. Now for those who don’t know the difference between the gloves I’ll briefly explain. Reyes gloves are generally considered to be ‘punchers’ gloves. Winning gloves are generally considered to provide more protection to the hand and in theory there is less chance of suffering hand injuries. Both types of gloves weigh the same. It’ll be interesting as both men will be wearing Reyes gloves on Saturday as opposed to Winning gloves last year.

Preparation

Another complaint that Pacquiao had after the first encounter was to do with his preparation. People like Freddy Roach complained that they were not given suitable accommodation and this may have affected Pacquiao’s mental and physical energy that night. This seems hard to believe when you consider the importance of a fight between the two but if it is true then it is a valid excuse.

New Trainer

Erik Morales on the other hand has made some notable changes since losing to Raheem last year. He decided to drop his father and trainer Jose Morales in exchange for José Luis “Maestro” López. This is a bold move for Morales to make when you consider the importance of this fight but I’m sure in Morales’ mind he knew he needed to shake things up. If the fight gets tough it will be interesting to see how the two communicate.

Psychology

The big question for me is how Morales will react to his last fight against Raheem. Morales has lost two of his last three fights. His losses were against top quality opponents but the fact remains that he lost those fights. A man as a proud as Morales will be finding those losses very difficult to stomach and it will be interesting to see just what kind of mental state he brings to the ring on Saturday. I think Morales is the type of fighter who could be so much better if he didn’t get so involved emotionally in fighting. He’ll need to maintain clarity of thought if he is to defeat Pacquiao on Saturday.

So what will happen come Saturday night?

This all depends really on what Morales brings to the ring. The frustrating thing about Morales is that he makes fights harder than they need to be. Morales does have the ability to box when he wants to but more often than not he will allow his macho pride to get him involved in a war.

I like Pacquiao for the entertainment he brings to boxing but I do feel that he is limited on a technical level and relies too much on his power. The way Morales won the first fight was by pressuring Pacquiao and making him fight on the back foot. I think Morales will need to adopt a similar set of tactics this time around.

The implications if they lose?

I think if Pacquiao loses then it’s not the end of the world for him as he still has a big rematch with Marco Antonio Barrera to look forward to. I think if Morales was to lose then it would possibly be the end of his career as I can’t see any other fights out there for him at this stage of his career should he lose again.

In closing, I like Morales to win another close fight by decision or maybe a late stoppage. I think Morales understands the importance of this fight and will be prepared to employ similar tactics to what he used in the first fight. I expect him to press the fight from the start, use his weigh advantage and keep Pacquiao on the back foot. Whatever happens, it should be another classic…

Article posted on 20.01.2006



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