Morales-Raheem: The Heart of the Matter
By Jeff Mayweather (September 5, 2005)
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Like most people I am pretty sure I will find myself catching this weekend's fights on HBO as Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao go to work in separate bouts. The card looks to be a lead in for a rematch of their fight earlier this year, but before jumping to conclusions I suggest we take a look at both Erik Morales and the man he will be fighting this weekend, Zahir Raheem.

I think Erik is a good person and I have gotten to know him very well over the years. I've worked with him in the past, most notably before his fight against Junior Jones in 1998. He has always treated me with the utmost respect and he is a classy guy as is the rest of his team. His camp was at the gym at least 6 or 7 times a week and he put a lot of hard work in. He definitely isn't the type of fighter who shortchanges himself when it comes to working. He works very hard.

Morales is known to some for only his exciting, warrior-like style but he has boxing skills that are overlooked. I remember sparring with him and noticing just how sharp and crisp his jab was, whenever he decided to use it. I told him afterwards that he had excellent boxing skills and that he should use them more often, but he is a warrior at heart and sometimes he can't seem to hold himself back from a good fight.

I also know the man Morales is fighting this weekend, Zahir Raheem, through my nephew as they both came out of the Olympics together. He is a very talented fighter and a nice guy as well. The only thing with Zahir is that you have to question his heart. When he was beaten by Rocky Juarez, he was looking for a way out and his corner had to basically push him out there on occasions.

Still, I think Raheem could not only give Morales trouble but quite possibly upset him as well. Zahir is going to have to dig down if he wants it. He complained a lot to the referee in his fight with Juarez and Morales is much better than Juarez will ever be. To me it's a matter of Juarez digging down and finding it within himself. He definitely has the style to beat Morales, and it's a fight that can be won or lost on styles. Zahir is a good left-handed boxer who is fairly slick, with enough punching power to keep a guy honest.

I have to wonder what will happen when Morales punches Raheem, will he quit or dig down? Once he gets hurt or finds himself in a trying situation he is going to have to fight his way out of it. He'll have to dig down for himself and find out how much he wants it. He's not getting any younger and his fight with Morales is the fight of his life.

When I think of Erik Morales the word warrior comes to mind. Simply put, Morales has given the fans what they want over all of his years and that is what stands out most about him. Against Pacquiao he was able to adapt to a different style and come out victorious. For that same reason I feel as though he will defeat Pacquiao in a rematch if they ever meet again. His fight with Raheem isn't a guaranteed victory and I have always said that even great fighters will run into a wall if they keep challenging themselves, so who knows what's in store for him. We'll simply have to wait until Saturday night to find out for sure.
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