I'm really looking forward to the Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales fight, because I suspect it could be the best fight so far this year. Styles make it so – neither man is accustomed to taking a backward step and both can punch with authority. Pacquiao is a southpaw who can come at his man from different angles. That can make it awfully difficult for fighters like Morales, who are more orthodox. Pacquiao (39-2-2, 31 KOs) has been in nine title fights, while Morales (47-2, 34 KOs) has had twenty world championship bouts.
One of the things pointed out by many is that Morales goes in as the naturally bigger man. He's at least a couple of inches taller, and has fought at 126 pounds or greater for the last thirteen bouts. His last four have been at the 130-pound level. Pacquiao, on the other hand, has fought as high as featherweight on only a few occasions, having previously held titles at 122 and 112 pounds. He made his pro debut a couple of months after his sixteenth birthday, as a 106-pounder, and as recently as 5½ years ago was 113, so he's done a lot of growing. It's quite possible that with an entire day to “rehydrate,” Morales is going to carry quite an actual weight advantage going into the ring – perhaps as much as ten pounds.
Morales has probably been in more wars – three fights with Marco Antonio Barrera would be enough to take a lot out of any fighter, and one of those brawls was less than four months ago. Morales also had all he could handle from people like In Jin Chi. He's been ten or more rounds on 16 occasions, compared to six for Manny. Interestingly enough, Pacquiao has gone a full twelve rounds only once, while Morales has gone the championship distance 12 times. Of course, the flip side is that aside from a technical draw, Pacquiao's power has been enough to take out every opponent except Juan Manuel Marquez in the last seven years.
A couple of weeks ago, this fight was a virtual pick 'em. Since then, the Pacquiao support has become somewhat more prevalent. Olympic Sports now has Pac Man at -135, with Morales getting a +120 takeback. That's the best price we have found on Morales thus far. Diamond Sports International has Pacquiao a -140/+110 favorite, while Intertops has Pacquiao at -130, with Morales at -110. World Sports Exchange makes you lay the same price on Pacquiao, but offers even money on Morales. At Pinnacle Sports, Morales fetches +119, although their odds tend to fluctuate. At Bet365 you can also get a positive price on Morales (+115). The fight is still a pick' em in at least a few online sportsbooks. SportingOdds and TotalBet have it at -110 either way, while Paddy Power makes you lay -120 with either man.
There is some over/under wagering offered. The total is 10.5 rounds – at Pinnacle at is -121 that the bout will go over the total, with a +111 takeback on the under. Olympic has offered a price of -135 with the over, +115 for the under. Several sites has put a price on the draw. The prices range from 14/1 at Diamond Sports International to 20/1 at Paddy Power and Intertops. Of course, the draw proposition comes into play because the fight promises to be closely contested. Olympic is offering something of a different twist, not only putting a number of +1850 on the draw occurring, but a price on the fight NOT being a draw. You will lay over 25/1 (-2550) for this choice. Olympic has also placed a 40/1 price on the bout being declared a no-contest, which presumably raises the proposition that it might be a foul-filled fight very early.
You can get +300 (3/1) on Morales winning the fight inside the distance (either by TKO, KO or Disqualification) at Diamond; Olympic has posted a price of +405 that Morales will win via 12-round decision. Diamond has Pacquiao at +330 to win a decision, and +200 (2/1) to capture the win inside the 12-round distance.
Intertops has round wagering available. Examples – Morales is 40/1 to win the fight in any of the first three rounds, and 20/1 to win in Round 11 and Round 12. Meanwhile, Pacquiao is 20/1 to win in the first, second, third and fourth rounds, and 25/1 to win in Rounds 10, 11 and 12.
If you're reading this on Friday, several fights are available on the “board.” Among them is the St. Patrick's Day showdown (one day late) at Foxwoods between heavyweights Kevin McBride and Kevin Montiy. McBride, who will bring quite a few fans from his adopted hometown of Boston coming to the fight, is a -265/+225 favorite at Diamond Sports International, -280/+240 at Olympic and -275/+200 at Bet365. McBride is returning after a 15-month layoff, having beaten Marcus Rhode in his last fight. His best wins are over people like the middling Najee Shaheed and Willie Phillips, but he's perhaps best known for being an opponent that was turned down for a TV bout with Mike Tyson. Montiy is big and strong (6'5″), but he's without experience against ten-round competition, and has not been beyond six rounds. He's handled by Gene McKart, the father of junior middleweight contender Bronco McKart.
Former WBC super middleweight champ Eric Lucas is back in action tonight in Montreal against journeyman James Crawford. Lucas (37-6-3, 14 KOs), isn't much of a puncher, but he's good fundamental fighter who should outclass Crawford (39-9-2), who has been halted inside four rounds in five of his last eight fights (two others were no-contest). Lucas is -600 at Diamond, with a takeback of +450. At Bet365, there's a bigger spread, with Lucas a -700 favorite (Crawford gets +425). Pinnacle, as usual, has it tighter, with Lucas a -475/+445 choice. At Olympic Lucas is -485, with Crawford at +405.
Michael Stewart, the junior welterweight from Delaware, continues his climb to the middle tonight in Philadelphia as he takes on Juan Carlos Rubio, whose big moment was a decision win over Francisco Bojado three years ago (he lost the rematch). At Diamond, Stewart is -300, with Rubio getting a +250 takeback. It is -300 that the bout goes over 9.5 rounds (it's scheduled for ten), with +250 on the under. Bet365 has the same price on Rubio, with Stewart at -350.
(All information is presented for entertainment purposes only. Odds naturally are subject to change, so check first with each individual sportsbook.)