15 years ago today, two all-time greats met in the second fight of their at times brutal trilogy. Manny Pacquiao, having dropped a close but fair decision to Erik Morales the previous year, fought “El Terrible” again. Pac Man wanted revenge. He got it. Morales, a true warrior who had fought a number of hard, hard fights, was still formidable, yet as it turned out the March 2005 win over Pacquiao was his last truly great win.
Pacquiao was stung by the points loss and he vowed to make up for it in the 130 pound rematch. Morales may have struggled to make weight, yet there were, as Manny had said would be the case – “no excuses.” Pacquiao was an absolute whirlwind in Las Vegas, hitting Morales with speedy punches from a number of angles. For a while, Morales managed to hang in there, yet all the wars, the struggle of making weight, and Pacquiao’s sheer speed and relentlessness, proved too much.
“I was tired because of making weight and I was tired because of all the tough fights I’ve had,” a beaten Morales said afterwards.
Morales, his face marked up, was knocked down in the tenth round. Hurt, tired and all but done for the night, the proud Mexican warrior beat the count. Only to be sent down again and this time saved from yet more punishment by referee Kenny Bayless. The stoppage loss marked the first time Morales had ever been KO’d as a professional fighter (Morales only ever being stopped three times in his awesome 61-fight career).
“I saw he was hurt every time I hit him in the body,” a victorious Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao had not put a foot wrong, his performance something special. Quite incredibly, however, the fight was pretty close on two cards after nine rounds, and it was extremely close on the third card. Jerry Roth and Paul Smith each had it 87-84 for Pac Man, while Dave Moretti somehow had it 86-85 for Manny.
But this was not a fight that was destined to go to the score-cards. Pacquiao, showing his ruthless finishing ability, closed the show in dramatic fashion. In reality there was no need for a third fight between the two. Still, the rubber-match did come, in November of that same year; with Pac Man gobbling up a faded Morales in just three rounds.
Morales had struck first, winning the first fight, but Pacquiao had come back to win the trilogy. Both men are celebrated as the great action fighters they really were. Or in the case of Pacquiao, still is.