Pacquiao - Morales: Is Manny That Good or is Erik "Over-the Hill?"

23.01.06 - By Goran Dragosavac: I want to start this article with big a "Thank You" to the organizers and both fighters. Bob Arum has done another terrific job setting up an incredible fight that this turned out to be. For the most part, I personally like both fighters and it was sad to see one of them lose in the end. Morales has brought so much enjoyment to boxing fans over the years, and it is always sad to see him lose, and as someone said recently, "If Morales must lose, let it be against a person, and caliber of fighter like Manny Pacquiao."

In my books, Pacquiao-Morales 2 was one of the best matches I have ever seen, and there's honestly no shame in losing in such a fight like this. So, did the gloves really made that much difference, or is there more to it?

In my view, there are whole host of things that made difference in this bout, and boxer's speed and reflexes is certainly one of them. In terms of handspeed, Pacquiao is fast, although not much faster than Morales, who had little difficulty in finding the Filapino's chin. Nevertheless, to illustrate how speed is important, if you take away the speed from fighter such as Floyd Mayweather, you'll take out foundation on which his offense and defense is rested. From there, you end of transforming an almost unbeatable fighter and turning him into someone merely above average in ability.

So, speed is important, and how about power? We all know both fighters have venom in their punch. However, Pacquiao's punching power is his strongest boxing asset, especially when delivered with quick hands and quick feet. Thus, speed and power have made a difference, but what else?

Before the bout, we all all knew that Manny Pacquiao would bring power, speed and stamina into the ring. All the same, what wasn't known is how he would utilize those assets. Previously, he was regarded as one dimensional fighter, a fighter who exclusively depended on his left hand as his single weapon in his arsenal. Well, there was nothing single-handed or one-dimensional about Manny's performance this time around. To me, Pacquiao's off-balance attack style was more of a strength than a fault. Why? Because it made him very unpredictable and gave him so much more angles to attack. That's why he was able to improvise so much. As commentators rightly said, "Pacquiao was making-up shots as he was going along," so how do you defend against a powerful, quick-footed, quick-thinking fighter, who doesn't come at you in predictive pattern?

Boxing "experts" often try to explain away a fighter's performance by simplifying it down to the single shot. For example, I have read that the "body attack" could have been the deciding factor in his destruction of Morales. However, from my perspective, what did it for Pacquiao was a whole package of things. He used his entire offesive arsenal of lightning quick and power shots, plus his lateral movement was pivotal in both, his attack and his defense. Likewise, his combinations were very effective and he was smartly mixing up not only his shots but the target as well, going downstairs and upstairs with his attacks. Additionally, he even used some feints on occasions, confusing not only Morales but also ring commentators who were baffled by watching the former "one-dimensional" fighter all of a sudden showing off a full variety of boxing skills.

For Pacquiao, it was by no means an easy fight for him, as evidenced by his badly marked up face. Against a fighter like Morales, it could never be. Up until round 6, Morales was firmly in the lead in the fight, but then when he should have gone one gear up, he went two gears down and seemed to tire all of a sudden. The signs were there early on, when after the second round, his legs seemed weak and shakey, perhaps because of having to work hard at making weight for the fight.

Recently, after losing 3 of his 4 fights, it seems that the wheel has turned against Morales. It is worn cliché to say that, due to his long career filled with many tough fights, he is suddenly getting old overnight. While this can cause lasting slump in fighter's s form, in the case of Morales, there are much more concrete reasons. For Morales, (just like for Miguel Cotto), the was writing on wall for some time. If either Barrera or Raheem had more power in their shots, they would probably do what Jesus Chavez have almost done, and what Pacquiao has finally done, by putting Morales on a floor. His porous defense was a major problem for him, from fight to fight, especially when he retreats straight back when being attacked. For a top level fighter, he simply gets hit way too much, which appears to have finally caught up with him in this bout with Pacquiao.

Also, Morales' over-confident mental attitude didn't help his case (this causes boxer to train-down as oppose to train-up for a fight). For some odd reason, always seems to drop some shots from his arsenal in certain fights. Case in point, how many uppercuts and feints did Morales fire last Saturday against Pacquiao? none! Therefore, if Morales can fix these types of deficiencies, he may return to the winning path. However, if not, then he should retire sooner rather than later to avoid anymore future beatings like he suffered on Saturday. For him, there is nothing left to prove anymore.

And for Manny, with the kind performance he put on against Morales on Saturday night, he is simply unbeatable. Even at 135 pounds, he'll be force to reckon, provided he comes in the ring with the whole package, just like he has done with Morales. The way I see it, the most pleasing thing about Manny Pacquiao is his humbleness. By getting in the ring with Erik Morales, as well prepared as he was, and giving the best performance of his career, Pacquiao has truly shown respect for Mexican warrior - and that is truly admirable.

I wish all the best to both fighters, one who is legend and other who is quickly becoming one. Moreover, they both deserve their status, and when boxing fought on this level, few things in life come close to that.

Regards to all readers.

Article posted on 24.01.2006

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