Pacquiao v. Morales, Could be Fight of the Year Candidate
By Xavier ‘El Mago’ Cepeda, BRC (March 19, 2005) 
Weigh in: 
Manny Pacquiao 129-1/2 lbs
Erik Morales 130 lbs
Photo ©
This Saturday, March 19, fight fans are in for what is going to be the beginning of an exciting year in boxing. Erik ‘el Terrible’ Morales faces Manny ‘Pac Man’ Pacquiao in what many believe could be a fight of the year candidate. The two are known for participating in explosive fights, both having faced Champion Marco Antonio Barrera. Pre-fight reviews and analysis are comprised of mixed opinions. The majority of opinions seem to be leaning in favor of Pac-Man. There are a few that believe the bigger and rangy Morales will have the advantage. This leaves an even smaller few that have succumbed to calling this one a pick ‘em fight. As a writer, that is a bit too safe for my blood.

Pacquiao is known for two of the most dangerous weapons a fighter can possess, speed and power. The momentum that he builds, coupled with the rhythm that he exhibits, is suffocating. His successive punches and uncanny power make for a storm even a crafty boxer struggles to weather. As a southpaw, Pac-Man loves the straight left, and he has used it behind a double and triple jab in many of his wins. Pacquiao’s ‘in your face’ style has proven successful. His knockouts over Ledwaba, and Barrera, as well as his knockdowns of Marquez speak for the power and danger that is laced up in those small Cleto Reyes gloves. Pacquiao is good on his feet and knows how to cut the ring off and corner his prey. The lightening fast pace at which he starts could be an issue in this fight. Morales is known for starting slow and winning the later rounds. Look to see Pacquiao come out with guns blazing, using a frontward assault and pressuring Morales. Morales is definitely in for a new experience in this fight with Pacquiao’s unique style, Barrera and Marquez can attest to that.

Morales is a boxing hero in Mexico and here in the U.S. He fights with conviction, and is known for his ‘no pain no gain’ attitude in the four corners. The chin that "El Terrible" sports has withstood some of the best punchers in the featherweight and lightweight divisions. Morales has never been knocked out, adding fuel to the fire for both fighters. Morales has an extensive amateur and professional background. He has seen it all, but Pacquiao does not fight like most. The swiftness and ease at which Morales can throw punches while moving out of the pocket will aid him in dealing with Pac Man’s pressure. He moved great against Famosito Hernandez, and Hernandez fights with the same pressure and pace as Pacquiao. Morales also throws the more technically sound punches of the two when in close quarters, and throws more accurately when in close (see Barrera v. Morales I, II, III). "El Terrible" will need to optimize his reach and jab, setting up the straight right in the early rounds to get respect. Pacquiao has already admitted to the press that Barrera hits harder than Morales, which can be argued, but we spectators will have the good fortune of seeing that put to the test.

This fight has Fight of the Year written all over it. One can easily see Pacquiao winning by early knockout, or by late round knockout. The fight could also be taken in the later rounds by Morales, with good movement and ring generalship. I don’t see Morales winning this by knockout, and he has not predicted a knockout in this fight either. Pacquiao’s only two losses however are by knockout. This one is sure to be just as thrilling as any of the Barrera v. Morales trilogy. Pacquiao will come on strong in the early rounds looking to rock him early.

Freddie Roach, Pac-Man’s trainer, has been speaking to the press about Manila Ice, Pacquiao’s supposed secret weapon that will expose Morales. This could be all hype or it could very well be that they have spotted a flaw in Morales. Morales will look to get respect early on, making the earlier rounds in the fight a can't blink occasion. If this fight goes to the later rounds, look to see both fighters in top form. Both fighters seem to be well prepared, and the weigh ins, pre-flight and the night of, should also give us insight on how much Morales had to stretch himself to make weight. All in all, this fight is a tough one to call and analyze because, as the overly used boxing adage goes, styles make fights. And these two fighters’ styles will certainly cause the other problems. Pac-Man’s win over Barrera is going to prove to be a nice blue print for Morales on how not to approach this fight.

I see this fight going the full distance. Pacquiao will come on strong and fast, with Morales standing in with him and trading. Morales is a proud Mexican Champion, and he will have something to prove in light of his recent loss to Barrera. He is comfortable with being inside and it is when you give Pac-man room to lunge with his left that you find yourself in trouble. His straight right is going to be the key in Pac-man’s downfall. As the rounds pass, look to see Morales dominate with ring movement and counterpunching. By serving up helpings of stiff jabs and accurately timed rights, Morales by close decision in the twelfth.
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