Has Morales bitten off more than he can chew?
By Rob Scott (March 16, 2005) 
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
Boxing has always been a fickle sport; views on fighters change with just one punch. One bout can change the perception of a fighter from a king to a mere peasant. To a weak-minded fighter, one bout could knock them off of their virtual horse, with them never to emotionally remount again. True champions have brushed themselves off and acknowledged that everyone loses eventually; it’s how a person responds to that setback that shows ones worth.

The career of Eric ‘El Terrible’ Morales, 47-2 (34), has reached a crossroad. With his second loss in the rubber match between himself and Marco Antonio Barrera, Morales has found himself again in the unfortunate position of having to brush himself off and rebound from yet another setback. After the first setback, the climb back didn’t seem to be as steep as the one he has now. The first setback was one where he fell off the mountain, down to earth. This latest setback is one that seems to be more of one in which his fall has landed him into a hole.

For Morales to fight tune-ups is the equivalent of someone throwing him a short rope; it’s too short for him to grab and it will take too long for him climb out. This is the reason why he will face the Philippine slugger Manny Pacquiao, 39-2-2 (31), this Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The ‘Pac Man’ represents the long rope needed for Morales to not only climb out of his hole, but to again ascend the boxing’s elite mountain.

Pacquiao may just be a symbolic rope, but many feel he won’t represent one that will benefit Morales, but one which has a noose at the end of it and will be his ultimate demise. Look at the odds and you will see there are others who share the belief in Pacquiao that his hand will be raised in the end. Many of the public sentiment comes off of Pacquiao’s devastation of Barrera in their November 2003 bout in which the Mexican pound-for-pound entrant’s corner was forced to throw in the towel to spare Barrera from further punishment.

Logic may say that because Pacquiao handled Barrera so easily and Morales lost to Barrera twice, then Pacquiao will do the same to Morales. Logical perception differs from person to person, and in boxing so many times logic has so many illogical overtones. Did George Foreman beat Muhammad Ali just because he destroyed Ken Norton, and Norton gave Ali hell? No. Did Mike Tyson beat James ‘Buster’ Douglas just because he unified the heavyweight title with a victory over Tony Tucker, and Tucker knocked out Douglas in a fight just before he face Tyson? Again, the answer is no. Barrera is Barrera and Morales is Morales. True logic says Pacquiao’s victory over Barrera doesn’t cement one over Morales.

The expression of ‘the dog in the fight’ and ‘the fight in the dog’ comes into play when I think of the eventual winner. How much fight is left in Morales? Does he truly know that this is a do-or-die situation? A loss here could cripple his career to the point where, yes we would see him fight again, but will we ever take him seriously again? There is a difference in being favored and being considered a relative stepping-stone. What does he truly want to be?

In the fights with Barrera, Morales fought without extended passion, a flaw that can’t be present in this oh so important confrontation with Pacquiao. There is no secret when it comes to Manny Pacquiao, he will come to seek, find and eventually destroy. If Morales plans on becoming Pacquiao’s 32nd knock out victim, then fighting with a lack of passion and purpose is just what he should do. If he wants to show that his losses to Barrera were mere setbacks and he is still a true force, lapses can’t occur. If not Pacquiao will show that the supposed setbacks weren’t mere setbacks by putting Morales literally on his back

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