In March of this year Manny Pacquiao looked across the ring and for the first time in nearly six years saw his opponent's arm raised in victory. The arm that was raised in victory belonged to Erik Morales. Pacquiao and Morales battled back and forth and left nothing behind as the bell rang to end the fight, leaving the fans more than satisfied. The fight seemed as a lock for fight of the year until Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo battled in a bout many claimed to be the greatest fight in boxing history. Both Pacquiao and Morales have fought once since their bout; Pacquiao made easy work out of Hector Velazquez while Erik Morales hit a roadblock losing a 12 round decision to Zahir Raheem.
With or without the loss Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao will once again meet in the ring on January 21st. I have no doubt this fight will meet its expectations, as it did the first time, but the questions to be asked are what can each fighter do to improve on their previous performance and who needs the win more. A win for Morales proves he is truly the better fighter but it also proves that his loss to Zahir Raheem was not due to diminishing skills. He simply ran into a better man that night. As for Pacquiao a win earns him redemption and it also proves he belongs at the top of the 130 pound weight division.
Both men know what to expect from each other; the difference in this bout will be what they don't expect. It's no secret that Manny Pacquiao loves to throw the jab followed by the straight left. I know he will, you know he will and most importantly Erik Morales knows he will. I remember hearing from both Manny and his trainer Freddie Roach before their first fight with Morales that Manny was going to throw his right hand more and mix up his punches. When fight night came it was mostly what we all knew and expected once again, the right jab followed by the straight left. Now I'm not saying this isn't an effective tool for Manny Pacquiao because it obviously is, all you have to do is take a look at his record. But if Manny did add the right hand to his arsenal more often his danger level would certainly increase.
One thing I love and hate about Erik Morales is his willingness to go to war when it's not necessary. We've all seen him do it and like Manny Pacquiao's right is followed by the straight left we know he's going to do it. What stood out to me in the first fight was that Morales did back off at times, used his boxing skills against Manny Pacquiao and it worked well. Erik may be able to make an easier fight than expected if he sticks to his boxing rather than his brawling. With that being said you can expect a great night of boxing on January 21st between these two warriors whether they change there tactics or not.