Saturday night, live from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, and broadcast on HBO PPV, Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao do the rematch of their first bloody war. El Terrible took that initial bout with a dominant undisputed decision, but since then lost to Raheem and looked pretty shopworn. Still, he’s the bigger man with the bigger career and Pac-Man, who may also been on the downside of a tremendous run, should have his gloved hands full. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Pacquiao-Morales II.
Not quite sure what to make of this fight. Even though the scores were a little tight the first time they fought, I thought Morales handled Pacquiao pretty easily and seemed to have too much height and boxing ability and just too many skills for the hard-charging Pac-Man to deal with. The fight shouldn't be any different this time around. No matter how much strategy Freddie Roach imparts to Pacquiao, once the fight begins he pretty much does things his way: straight ahead behind a jab left hand, which won't be enough for Morales, who has much to prove after embarrassing himself against Zahir Raheem. Morales by UD.
Morales obviously went into the Zahir Raheem fight with a big head. He figured Raheem wasn't in his class, and trained like it. The result was the worst performance of his career. But he didn't take a beating, and was in a lightweight class that was completely unfamiliar to him. He'll rebound in typical Morales fashion in the Pacquiao rematch. He is reported to be in tremendous shape, and he will be determined to knock off the stain of the Raheem debacle. He is taller and bigger than Pacquiao, and it was apparent in the original fight that Pac-Man doesn't have the punch at 130 pounds to hurt Morales. He'll counter Pacquiao's strong rushes and back him up with harder punches. No reason to think this one will be any different, as a reinvigorated “El Terrible” repeats his unanimous decision victory.
When you have determination and stamina and guts, you can get very far in the sport of boxing. When you have determination and stamina and guts and talent, you can get even further. Morales is the more talented fighter and that will be the difference in this fight. I chalk up Morales' last loss to a lack of focus, not a decline in ability. To me, he's not a washed up fighter by any means. I think he stops Pacquiao in the 11th round.
Robert Cassidy Jr.
We've got a bleeder. I've seen Manny Pacquiao enough to know that about him. If he can avoid cuts, he's got the skill and punching power to take down Erik Morales. Although, the hard-popping Pac-Man won't knock Morales and will have to settle for the decision.
Jesse K. Cox
Another tough pick, but I'll go with Morales by decision. All things being equal, he's just naturally a little bigger than Pacquiao, and when you weigh 130 pounds, a “little bigger” means something.
I predict Manny Pac by unanimous decision. Freddie Roach has fine-tuned his little dynamo's skills, banished all the distractions, solved the glove dilemma and put him on the road to defeating Morales.
Erik Morales is convinced he's the stronger, more technically proficient, fighter. Manny Pacquiao believes he's prepared to fight a much more effective fight this time around. Aside from something unforeseen related to the weigh-in, ala Gatti-Gamache or Castillo-Corrales II, Morales is my pick to win the rematch with Manny Pacquiao. The Morales jab and his ability to counter with the right hand put the southpaw Pacquiao in a situation where he had to counterpunch more than he liked. Pacquiao's natural aggression played right into Morales' strength – a humming lead jab, hard hooks to the body after scorching straight right hands. As a general principle, the straighter Morales punches off the counter the more consistently he scores. Against Barrera Morales' punches tended to arch more, against Pacquiao they tended to get straight down the power alley. Look for some dangerous moments, perhaps for both fighters, and Morales being the better 'catcher' finds an advantage in any situation that comes down to all out aggression balanced against the ability to absorb punishment. In a fight that goes the distance look for Morales to box, counter, punish and stand in when necessary for a unanimous decision, intermittently relying on his legendary chin to hold up against Pacquiao's rocketing left cross.
Deja vu all over again … Manny Pacquiao gets the gloves he wants and won't have the distractions that were pointed to as part of his downfall in the first bout against Erik Morales. Unfortunately for PacMan, the biggest distraction in the fight was El Terrible and his persistent, accurate shots. Assuming the judges continue to award points for sharp accurate punches as opposed to Manny's less-technical aggression, look for Erik Morales to again win to a close decision in another exciting fight. It wouldn't be a surprise if both fighters are hurt at some point and both are likely get cut. And let's not forget that Pacquiao started as a 108-pound pro and is now fighting at 130; Morales is the stronger man at the weight. If a boxer beats a puncher then Morales eats up PacMan, again.
A good big man beats a good little man, right? Morales is the former, Pacquiao the latter. This rematch won't come down to gloves (Cleto Reyes vs. Winning) or luxury penthouse suites or Pacman fever affecting workouts at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym. It'll come down to Pac. being a featherweight (126) who, while still fast, powerful and tough at 130, doesn't make the proper adjustments when plan A fails. Hey, I'm still waiting to see the fabled “Manila Ice.” Remember the punch he was going to unveil last time around? Instead of relying on his bread-and-butter one-two, his team claimed to have developed a three. I didn't see it, did you? There may be no need for Manila Ice if he just sticks with the body this time, which had Morales keeling over as if he had eaten a spoiled burrito. Pac makes numerous mistakes and has not evolved technically; he's a one-dimensional slugger. But, oh, what a dimension it is! Expect another great fight. And another decision in Morales' favor.
The gloves had too much padding, the cut affected his vision and there were too many distractions in training camp. Shouldda, couldda, wouldda…The only thing missing is Don King and the trips around town to pick up his dry cleaning and round card girls. Manny Pacquiao can make all the non-excuses he wants for his loss to Erik Morales, but the bottom line is he let his emotions get the better of him the first go-round and he wasn't able to do enough to win. Freddie Roach may have the perfect strategy for Pacquiao to defeat Morales but the best laid plans often go awry and in this case once the battle heats up, say goodbye to Pacquiao's strategy. Filipino boxing fans are rabid to the point of lunacy; they now impatiently wait for their beloved Pacquiao to avenge his defeat. It's not to be however. Morales is a more technically sound fighter who knows how to beat Pacquiao. And he will. Morales by unanimous decision.
With Morales losing his last fight to Zahir Raheem, it is easy to see him losing this one too. However, Pacquaio will be more than willing to go mano a mano with him, which should benefit Morales. Morales W 12.
Despite the lack of distractions that supposedly left Pacquaio unfocused and ill prepared for their first fight, Morales is still the bigger, stronger man with the more effective jab. In contrast to his last fight with Zahir Raheem, Morales will enter this fight fit and focused. The Pacman’s aggressive, open style is tailor-made for the Mexican who will, once again, land more jabs, combinations and counterpunches. Both men withstood the other’s best shots and managed to remain on their feet, so a KO is unlikely. Morales by UD.
Jonathan M. Morgan