In Boxing News: Manny Pacquiao Shocks Morales and Experts

Not surprisingly, there has been an amazing reaction amongst his countrymen – both in the boxing press and amongst Filipino fight fans – to Manny Pacquiao‘s destruction of Erik Morales Saturday night in Las Vegas. It was exactly what boxing needed, as Pacquiao looked devastating and Morales, though going down in defeat, fought like the warrior he is. Many Filipinos were rejoicing early Sunday afternoon says the China Peoples Daily. The ones that weren’t busy rejoicing, I believe, were in a gloating mood and were busy emailing our own Matt Aguilar, who had suggested Pacman’s career might be on the downslide. All I can say is that I hope Matt has a lot of storage space allocated for his email inbox, because the incoming was coming in fast and furious over the last 24 hours. Good luck answering all those emails, Matt. (And to anybody else who is thinking of emailing Matt on this topic, I don’t think it’s necessary … I’m sure he gets the idea.)

The question being asked by the boxing fans I talked to last night was whether it was a case of Pacquiao being that good or Morales being on the decline and not quite the fighter he once was. On Saturday night’s evidence, I think you have to say it was a bit of both. Morales may have struggled to make weight as he suggested, and there can be little doubt that the many wars he has been in must have taken their toll. But make no mistake, this was a different Manny Pacquiao that Erik Morales faced on Saturday night. Pacquiao employed better defense, mixed in the right hand with his straight left and even appeared in better shape than in the first bout. Pacquiao looked nothing short of sensational after the fifth round. Freddie Roach said it was a matter of both he and the Pacman learning from past mistakes.

As regards Erik Moales, Ron Borges in the Boston Globe sums it up: it was not simply Pacquiao who defeated Morales. It was also Marco Antonio Barrera and Jesus Chavez and Injin Chi and Wayne McCullough and Daniel Zaragoza and countless lesser-known fighters whose punches Morales had accepted in exchange for the right to land the bombs that had won him 48 of his previous 51 fights. But that style, a warrior’s style, so exciting and revered by Mexican fight fans, is unforgiving. Morales’s demise Saturday was a reminder to everyone in the crowd of 14,618 that warriors usually end up bloody and beaten if they compete for too long. This does not take anything away from Pacquiao’s victory, but merely puts it in proper perspective. Wherever Morales chooses to go from here, there is no doubt he is one of this generation’s greatest fighters. In an era where a lot of big name boxers have to be coaxed into taking a tough fight, Morales never ducked anyone.

Honorable mention must also go to the entertaining undercard bout between Martin Castillo and Alexander Munoz. It was a hard-hitting affair that left both men bleeding as they traded heavy shots for much of the fight.

Also over the weekend, Houston featherweight Rocky Juarez knocked down Backlin Medrano five times en route to his second consecutive knockout victory.

There’s been a lot written about the health implications of the head injury Joe Mesi sustained, but I’m not sure there is a true understanding amongst boxing fans as to what it all really means. The Buffalo News examines the medical details of Mesi’s injury: A subdural hematoma is a rupture of blood vessels, usually veins, between the brain and its outermost surrounding layer of tissue. The acute subdural hematoma, with severe bleeding and brain damage, is not a common occurrence in boxing but is the leading cause of boxing fatalities. The difficulty in judging Mesi’s case is that he falls into a different category. He had small amounts of bleeding with no apparent underlying damage. Since then, he appears to have fully recovered. The remaining question is whether the injury, however mild, places him at greater risk for another brain injury? Some doctors say he is at no greater risk, others say there simply is no way to know.

Looking forward to his March 18 meeting with James Toney, Hasim Rahman says he will be in the best shape of his life: People can believe what they want to believe, but in this fight, I’m going to be the best Hasim Rahman the world has seen. Of all the fights I’ve had, right now, I’m two weeks away from being in the best shape of any fight I’ve had. In two months, come on. I don’t even want to think about it. Toney has said he will stand right in front of Rahman and dare Rahman to hit him, but Rahman isn’t worried: He might be counting on his defense and making me miss. And I might miss some, but I’m not going to miss everything. And when I do land, that’s when he’s got big problems. It could turn out to be a decent heavyweight fight. Hopefully Toney shows up in decent shape. The Rock is the bigger, stronger man, but Rahman is not great on the inside and if Toney can turn it into an inside battle the Rock is going to have his hands full.

(As always … more Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)