Pacquiao-Morales: Is Erik Morales a “shot” fighter?

14.11.06 - By Geoffrey Ciani: Saturday night, the highly anticipated rubber match between Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao will finally become a reality. When these two warriors first met in March 2005, Morales won a decisive unanimous victory against Pacquiao. In their second encounter early this year, Pac Man stopped El Terrible in the tenth round after having administered a prolonged beating on the Mexican warrior. Saturday night should prove once and for all, who’s the better fighter! Or will it?

In a sense, whoever wins this fight should indeed prove himself the better man, however, in boxing, things aren’t always as simple as they seem. In this case, Erik Morales is a battle-worn pugilist who may have partaken in one war too many. Having lost three of his last four fights, Morales is clearly a fighter in decline. Prior to his current losing trend, the man had only lost one fight in his entire professional career—and that was against fellow-all-time great, Marco Antonio Barrera. Even then, many boxing experts felt that El Terrible deserved the nod in his second bout with Barrera, but there’s no question whatever that Morales clearly lost three of his last four bouts.

Ironically, Morales’s only win in that duration was against none-other than Manny Pacquiao himself. In that bout, Morales outworked and out-hustled Pac Man to a clear-cut unanimous decision. He hasn’t looked the same since then, having been thoroughly out-boxed by Zahir Raheem before being brutally stopped by Pac Man in his last fight.

Every boxing fan is familiar with the phrase “he got old overnight”, and there is ample evidence that suggests Morales personifies this. Indeed, it’s difficult to make an argument to the contrary in light of his recent performances. Now some may argue that the loss to Barrera should come as no surprise because many boxing fans (myself included) happen to believe that Barrera bested Morales in each of their three epic encounters. That argument certainly holds some weight.

To further this line of reasoning, it can be argued that Raheem posed style problems that were too much for Morales to overcome. I suppose there might be some truth to that statement, but I’m not sure I buy it, especially in light of Raheem’s subsequent fight against Acelino Freitas. I think the loss to Raheem was indicative that Morales is no longer the same fighter, plain and simple.

The biggest oddity of all concerning Morales this time around are his two prior encounters with Pacquiao. How can Morales have outclassed Pacquiao as he did in their first match only to be mercilessly bludgeoned in their second bout? Some people will point to the head butt in the first bout, claiming that caused Pac Man to become light-headed, and thusly, ineffective. Others may say that Pacquiao was able to make the proper adjustments needed to be successful against Morales. Others still will say that Pacquiao drew Morales into a brawl the second time around, which is better-suited for Pac Man’s style.

All of those arguments carry some merit, but I think there’s a simpler argument and one which many people are unable to concede: Morales simply isn’t the same fighter he once was. There’s no shame in that, and this isn’t intended to take anything away from the tremendous talent which is Manny Pacquiao. Pacquaio is a tremendous fighter, and I don’t think anybody is denying this fact.

Even still, will the winner of this upcoming fight really “prove” who the better fighter is? I’m not so sure it will. Did Rocky Marciano “prove” he was the better fighter when he beat Joe Louis? Did Larry Holmes “prove” he was the better fighter when he defeated Muhammad Ali? Did Mike Tyson “prove” to be the better fighter when he stopped Larry Holmes?

Like I said, in boxing, everything isn’t always as simple as it seems. Is Erik Morales a “shot” fighter? Perhaps we’ll find out this Saturday night. Be sure to tune-in for the Morales-Pacquiao rubber match on HBO pay per view!

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Article posted on 15.11.2006

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