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Thread: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

  1. #1
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    Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    The Third Time's Not Always The Charm
    By Ed Schuyler from Sweet Science

    A third fight between boxers signals that their first two bouts produced an exciting victory for each man and that the rubber match is saleable. This is the case for Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales, as it was for Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera.

    Morales won the first fight against Barrera, then lost the next two. Against Pacquiao, Morales won a decision, then he was stopped in the 10th round. Because of their styles, Saturday night’s fight at Las Vegas should be another thriller, but it ain’t necessarily so that a rubber match lives up to expectations.

    Muhammad Ali’s 14th round victory over Joe Frazier in Manila in 1975 was to my mind the greatest rubber match in the history of boxing, but his third fight against Ken Norton in1976 was a rather dull affair, which is remembered more for the acts of hooliganism in Yankee Stadium that were encouraged by the New York police being on strike.

    Frazier had kept the heavyweight title on a unanimous decision in a fight in which he knocked Ali down in the 15th round in 1971 at Madison Square Garden. Neither man was champion when Ali scored a 12-round decision in the Garden three years later. He then became champion again by knocking out George Foreman in 1974 in Africa.

    In the Thrilla’ in Manila, the two arch-rivals fought with a ferocity that even left onlookers drained. The fight ended when trainer Eddie Futch would not permit Frazier to go out for the 15th round because Smokin’ Joe could barly see. Futch took his action despite the fact that he thought Frazier was winning. If the fight had gone the distance, however, Ali would have won a unanimous decision.

    “You may have seen the last of Ali,” the champion said. “I want to get out of it.” It would have been the perfect time for both him and Frazier to retire.

    A third Ali-Norton fight was highly anticipated. In 1973, Norton had broken Ali’s jaw in winning a 12-round split decision. Then Ali needed to win the 12th round for a split-decision victory in the rematch. While some among the 30,298 fans in Yankee Stadium were being mugged, Ali won a close but controversial unanimous decision mainly on the strength of dominating the final three rounds.

    While the third Ali-Norton bout was marred by violence outside the ring, the third Emile Griffith-Benny “Kid” Paret match will always be remembered for violence inside the ropes.

    At the weigh-in for the fight at Madison Square Garden on March 24, 1962, Paret, the defending welterweight champion, made some remarks about Griffith’s sexual orientation and touched him on his bare back. That night, Griffith, who was far ahead in the scoring, pinned Paret in a neutral corner and landed about 25 hard punches before referee Ruby Goldstein intervened. Paret slumped to canvas and did not regain consciousness. He died nine days later.

    Two rubber matches that will always be overshadowed by the second fights were Floyd Patterson against Ingemar Johansson and Riddick Bowe against Evander Holyfield.

    The last Patterson-Johnansson fight in 1960 at Miami Beach, Fla., probably was the best of the three, with Patterson being knocked down twice and the Swede once in the first round before Patterson scored a sixth-round knockout. Mention Patterson-Johansson, however, and the first fight that pops into mind is the second one in which Patterson became the first man to regain the heavyweight championship when he knocked out Johansson in the fifth round at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Johansson had won the title a year earlier by knocking down Patterson seven times in the third round and stopping him.

    Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe could have fought 10 times, and their second would still be the one most remembered. In the seventh round of that fight in 1993, Fan Man crashed into the ring ropes, causing a 21-minute delay. Holyfield would regain the undisputed heavyweight title on a 12-round majority decision. The two men would be former champions when Bowe won the rubber match on an eighth-round technical knockout in 1995.

    A rubber match that was an afterthought was Sugar Ray Leonard’s one-sided decision over Roberto Duran for the WBC super middleweight title in 1989, nine years after one of the most controversial fights in history. In 1980, Leonard regained the WBC welterweight title from Duran when the Panamanian quit in the eighth round. It was the “No Mas” fight.

    Action was packed into almost three rounds of the rubber match between Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano, but still the bout paled in comparison to the first two fights, which were as intense as any two bouts in boxing history. Zale took a beating before knocking out Graziano in the sixth and retaining the middleweight title in 1946. Graziano took an even a worse drubbing before rallying to top Zale in the sixth round and win the championship in 1947.

    In their third match at Newark, N.J., in 1948, the 26-year-old Graziano, nine years younger than Zale, was a 12-5 favorite, but Zale was in charge from the outset as he become only the second man to regain the middleweight title, joining Stanley Ketchel, who did it with an eighth-round knockout of Billy Papke in 1908. Zale knocked down Graziano in the first round and knocked him down again in the third before knocking him out.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    "From Pillar to Post" - Manny Pacquiao, Erik Morales To Settle The Score
    By Ryan Songalia from Boxing Scene


    Every great fighter needs a counter part that can bring out the best in him, in victory and defeat. For Muhammad Ali, it was Joe Frazier, pushing "The Greatest" to the limits of his mortality in successfully bringing out the truth in Ali. Jake Lamotta was the vehicle by which Ray Robinson most emphatically brought out the heart and tenacity of a man who was considered to be above human. And now for Manny Pacquiao, he has met his athletic muse in Erik Morales.

    Morales represented a chance to cement his legacy as one of this era's greatest to the masses. Pacquiao was a dangerous opponent, a fearsome slugger who had previously felled Morales' greatest rival in Marco Antonio Barrera.

    Morales was feeling the pressure himself, having lost the rubber match to Mexico City's Marco Antonio Barrera and a pivotal foothold in history. A victory over Pacquiao would in a very real sense represent a victory over Barrera.

    The Spring of 2004 saw Pacquiao engage in dramatic draw with Juan Manuel Marquez, in which Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in the first only to be technically outgunned for significant stretches through the middle rounds en route to an even verdict. It was thought that a rematch and a subsequent third and decisive bout would be the route by which Pacquiao defined his career, an adversary who could force him to fight harder than any previous opponent.

    As thrilling as their first encounter was, a rematch never materialized. Marquez and his trainer/manager Nacho Beristain felt that you don't actually have to beat an elite fighter, just give him a good fight, and that entitles you to primadonna status in fight negotiations. With Marquez on the sidelines sliding out of the public eye, Erik Morales stepped in and what has ensued has been nothing short of boxing theatrical greatness.

    A boxing adage suggests that whoever wins the first fight, wins the rematch more convincingly. Well, who believes in proverbs anyways? Morales won the first fight by a clear margin, using his vast experience and size to outgun and blunt Pacquiao's speed and power advantages. It looked as if Morales was going to be too big and strong for the former Flyweight titlist, that Pacquiao's audacious plan to fell the top three Mexican Featherweights of the last ten years had come to a halt.

    A rematch was set for the following January, by which the world around the two had changed drastically. Pacquiao's training camp in Los Angeles for the first fight was a public spectacle, an open forum where 100s of fans and members of the media were there to view his preparation. Trainer Freddie Roach felt that the distraction hurt Pacquiao's concentration in the first fight and expelled the masses from the Wild Card Gym, allowing Pacquiao the proper environment to prepare for the hell of battle.

    To hype up the rematch, Pacquiao and Morales appeared on a twin bill to showcase themselves against what were supposed to be perfunctory opposition. It was all routine for Pacquiao, who disposed of Hector Velasquez in 6 entertaining rounds. Somebody forgot to let Zahir Raheem know it was just a tuneup, as the 1996 Olympian put on a boxing clinic over 12 rounds with Morales playing pupil. Of course Raheem didn't get to cash in on the great effort, being afforded only a fringe title opportunity against Acelino Freitas.

    In those fights against other opponents, you could clearly distinguish the differences between both fighters internal rhythms. Erik Morales fights like a jazz artist, relying on the inspiration of the moment rather than forcing art out of his hands. A great jazz musician can only perform when inspired, and Raheem's undistinguished reputation could never elicit an effort like Morales put forth against Barrera or Paulie Ayala. Like Louie Armstrong with his smooth posturing, then interjecting violent discords with his shoulders and arms in conjunction.

    Pacquiao is heavy metal, a cacophony of wild lefts and ill-intentioned rights that compound to a symphony of raw humanity. His stints inside the ropes are long guitar solos that could be enticed into fruition regardless of venue. A journeyman like Velasquez would receive the same respect as a legend like Marco Antonio Barrera.

    Morales, in spite of his poor showing, was set to face Pacquiao for a second time with a great deal of doubt left in the back of his mind. Morales started stronger, but Pacquiao sent Morales sailing across the ring in the second, with doubts as to whether or not the Reyes gloves really did make a difference running through the Mexican legend's mind. From the sixth on, it was all Pacquaio. Morales began to weaken, his erosion accelerated by inept handlers who massaged his legs in between rounds. Finally, with Morales reduced to returning fire with smoke, Pacquiao deposited Morales on the canvas twice, compelling the referee to waive off what was quickly becoming a blood letting.

    For the first time in his long career, Erik Morales went into the ring without his father Jose working the corner during their second time around. The patriarch's poor handling of the situation during the Raheem fight is the only external factor to point to as the instigator. Morales himself conceeded that the shakeup of his camp was also a terrible miscue. "For the second fight, you know, I just made so many, just make too many changes in my routine from my camp, on everything. Just make too many changes that I shouldn’t have done."

    For all intents and purposes, many thought that was the end of Morales as a fighter. A return clause existed, but general thought was that Morales wouldn't want any favors done for him there. You can only save a fighter from everything but himself however, and the pride of a champion that exists in Morales' ever-beating heart would not allow himself to stay down without seeking redemption.

    What remains though are the questions of Morales' reserves; does he have anything left for a young stud in the prime of his youth? Pacquiao's superior speed and punching clout are enough to persuade pundits to the thought that Pacquiao has the athletic qualities to be superior at this stage of their careers. Morales has a great beard, but his lapse in vincibility this past January shows that he is only human and will go down from Pacquiao's smothering assaults.

    With his advanced ring age putting him into the AARP territory of boxers, Morales cannot survive a gunfight with Pacquiao. His only option is to mimic the tactics of his nemesis Barrera when last confronted with a younger adversary. Knowing that matching punch for punch with a bigger swinger in Juarez would be potentially disastrous, Barrera put on a thorough clinic of the Houston native in the rematch this past September, showing that dogs with new tricks can be the master of younger pups.

    His warrior instincts aside, Morales needs to fight the most boring fight of his highlight reel life to have any chance to overturn the balance of Pacquiao's vast dividends in the last fight. A slufest with a bigger puncher with quicker fists is the kind of confrontation that Morales does not need.

    Morales has the advantage of having beaten Pacquiao once before, he knows how to get there and what it feels like once reaching the summit. When Pacquiao annhilated Barrera in November of '03, a feeling of resignation came over Barrera, a concession that he would not be able to turn the tables in this or any other lifetime. From the second half of the fight on, Barrera's face seemed to state "I just can't beat this guy."

    "El Terrible's" biggest enemy in preparations may be his own body. Although beginning his career as a Junior Featherweight, his growing body has made it very difficult for him to make the 130 limit. Contrast that with Pacquiao, who as a former Flyweight champion routinely comes in 2 pounds or more under the contracted weight limit.

    Salven Lagumbay of the Philippine Daily Inquirer recently summarized Morales' prospects with the following warning; "Erik Morales should be in his fighting best or he’s going to get knocked out again by Manny Pacquiao."

    Pacquiao has since beaten Oscar Larios in a fight that, while pitting two world class opponents, was essentially a tuneup for bigger fish to come. Morales has not returned to the ring yet to find out if he has anything left in the tank. He is reserving those questions for Manny Pacquiao to answer.

    By the time they meet once again to settle the tie, Morales will have been out of the ring for ten months, the longest layoff of his career. Morales' reinvigorated spirit will allow him to once again test his mortality against a deadly opponent, but what has yet to be determined is how bright the fire still burns inside him. He's lost three of his last four bouts, and another loss would signify the end of an era in the lower weight divisions.

    Bringing back his father and original trainer can only help, but bringing back the Morales of old may not be feasible.

    Pacquiao's desire is in no question, as Phillipine Star correspondent Abac Cordero's report articulated this past week. "He said he wants to finish off Morales in the early rounds, and that he’s going to fight like there’s no tomorrow. That’s why he’s training like an animal," quoted Cordero of Jake Joson.

    When referree Vic Drakulich signals for the time keeper to ring the bell to start the festivities on November 18, he better ring it hard. For the Filipino and Mexican boxing fans, this is the World Cup, this is the World Series, this is the only event that matters in the world on Saturday night.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Erik Morales & the Force of His Will

    Shawn Krest from Tiger Boxing

    Conventional wisdom didn’t know what it was up against.

    According to conventional wisdom, Zahir Raheem’s upset win scuttled the super-fight rematch between Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao. The follow-up to last March’s bloodbath won by Morales would be inked as soon as each combatant took care of their tune-up fight.

    Pacquiao did his part by dumping Hector Velazquez in six rounds on that fateful September night at Staples Center, but Raheem shocked the world with a dominating unanimous decision over a sluggish, 135-pound Morales. The conventional wisdom was as open and shut as it could get. Raheem was relegated to the subtitles. The headline read “Super Fight Off.”

    Conventional wisdom never met Erik Morales.

    When Erik Morales wants something, really wants something—enough to put the steamroller force of his iron will behind it—an object immovable enough to stop him has yet to be discovered.

    The super fight is still on, without even a delay. January 21, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Morales and Pacquiao will face off in a rematch. Something as inconsequential as a loss wasn’t going to stop Morales.

    It didn’t the last time. At the end of 2004, Morales was smarting from another loss to arch-rival Marco Antonio Barrera. A twelve-round war that earned Fight of the Year honors from most sources ended in majority decision heartbreak for the proud Mexican. So crushed by the loss was Morales that he refused a post-fight handshake from the victor. The epic trilogy was over and Morales had lost. After winning the first matchup, Morales dropped the next two. The results were there in black and white. There was nothing Morales could do.

    Except that no one told Morales. Reeling from the loss and unable to corral Barrera for a fourth installment, Morales did the next best thing. He fought the man that battered his rival. On the strength of Manny Pacquiao’s November, 2003 TKO of Barrera, Morales signed the bout with the big punching southpaw who also happened to be one of the top pound-for-pounders in the sport.

    It was a foolish move by a proud man and disaster was sure to follow. Many observers, including the author of these words, thought it was too much too soon for Morales. He wasn’t mentally ready for such a dangerous opponent, on the heels of such a punishing fight against a hated foe.

    Morales proved us all wrong taking a two-point unanimous decision. Just as he’d promised, he beat the man that had beaten the man. Barrera seems to be taking the bait, crowing for a rematch with Pac Man, and suddenly, an encore fight to the Morales-Barrera trilogy doesn’t seem out of the question.

    All Erik Morales did in 2005 was take an unfathomable risk and defeat the most dangerous opponent he could find. All he did was take steps toward luring his enemy back in the ring despite having two of three victories in hand. But first Erik Morales wanted a rematch with Pacquiao.

    Did Zahir Raheem really think he could keep Morales from getting what he wanted?

    To hear Morales talk, it’s as if the Raheem fight never took place. On a recent media conference call, three questioners brought up the September loss. Morales’ answer never acknowledged that portion of the questions. On a recent Los Angeles radio appearance, he talked about letting people down with his last performance, never uttering Raheem’s name or mentioning the word “loss.”



    “Without a doubt you know the last fight was an embarrassment,” he said near the end of the conference call coming close to admitting defeat, but never making it there. “You know a lot of people pay to get tickets. I could have done better. I should have done better. That never should have happened what happened in my last fight.”



    When asked about his history of bouncing back from losses, Morales bristled, hesitant to focus on the three fights he’s dropped. “You know I believe in what I am doing. I believe that I am doing the right things, that I am preparing myself well, that I am doing the best that I can to win. I mean it shouldn’t, losses shouldn’t bring out the best in you but you know somehow they do in me. There is nothing you can do about those things that are already in the past but I know what I am capable of doing and what I want to do in this fight. Next question.”

    While slow to accept defeat, Morales was willing to give in on one front in order to make the bout a reality. The first fight was overshadowed by a controversy over the fighters’ choice of gloves. Pacquiao claimed that the gloves chosen by Morales had too much padding, blunting the impact of the powerful Filipino’s shots. To nail down the rematch in light of the Raheem loss, Morales told Pacquiao to wear whatever he wanted.



    “I think psychologically maybe for him his wearing the gloves makes him feel that he is a stronger puncher than he really is. I don’t know,” says Morales. “All I can tell you is that I fight with both kinds of gloves, and I knock people out with both kinds of gloves. So I know that the gloves don’t mean anything. It is just how hard a puncher you are. All I can tell you I know that in order to win a fight you have to be well prepare and you have to work hard and be ready to fight and that is what I do.”



    “You know I think the gloves are just a side issue,” he continued. “It is not really important...As long as people see a lot of leather I don’t think they care which names is in the gloves.”



    So despite the loss that should have ruined everything, despite two losses in his last three outings, Morales has what he wanted. Another bout with Pacquiao. There’s the nagging urge to say, “Be careful what you wish for,” but who can doubt Erik Morales’ will? Despite the thinner gloves and the score to settle, can Manny Pacquiao possibly stand in his way?



    In true Erik Morales fashion, El Terrible gives the verbal equivalent of a shrug. “See if he has learned,” says Morales of the challenge presented by Pacquiao. “I think he has learned something from me and that I don’t respect anyone up in the ring. I do the best I can and no one is going to intimidate me up in the ring.”

    And in the event that Morales loses, what then? “That is not the way I think. I never thought of it that way,” he says. “You know you prepare yourself to win. That is what I am going out there to do, to win. Losing is not in a winner’s mentality so all I am thinking about is winning, doing the best I can.”

    As long as people are foolish enough to stand in his way, we’ll all pay money to watch the collision

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Erik Morales Makes His Last Stand
    By Dr. Peter Edwards from Boxing Scene


    Bittersweet redemption is the main objective of Mexican icon Erik Morales. After losing three out of his last four bouts, Morales has his back against the wall when he meets Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao for the third time on November 18 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Most boxing fans became aware of Morales when stopped the legendary Daniel Zaragoza for the WBC bantamweight title on September 6, 1997, the main event of an HBO telecast. The action packed bout with Zaragoza made Morales an instant hit with the bigwigs at HBO, and the boxing public.

    Following the bout against Zaragoza, Morales made several more HBO appearances between 1998 and 1999, showcasing his skill level with impressive performances over Junior Jones and Wayne McCullough.

    Morales’ career was breezing along at a steady pace, but he was still not a household name among casual boxing fans.

    The turning point in Morales’ career came on February 19, 2000, when he squared off with Mexican rival Marco Antonio Barrera in Las Vegas. Prior to the bout, Barrera was viewed by most as a done fighter. He was beaten twice by Junior Jones, which were his last two HBO appearances before he stepped in the ring with Morales.

    After a few rounds, ringside observers and those watching on TV, knew they were witnessing something special. The action was fierce and the drama was nonstop. The two Mexican fighters traded rounds, punches, blood and tears as the Las Vegas crowd was on their feet in amazement that neither fighter was knocked out in the process.

    As the bout entered the twelfth and final round, Morales was behind in the fight, at least in the minds of most viewers. To the surprise of the crowd and a majority of the television audience, Morales was squeak out a close split-decision victory. The result was not significant because the fight itself was an instant classic, one of the greatest Mexican wars in the history of the sport, and the fight gained further “legendary status when it was blessed with “fight of the year” honors.

    Following the win over Barrera, he began beating the very best of the featherweight division, including Kevin Kelley, In Jin Chi and Guty Espades, Jr. Morales was very proud of the fact that he rarely took an easy fight. In 2002, he and Barrera locked horns again for a long awaited rematch. The fight lacked the blood and guts of the first fight as both men used their boxing skills to dictate the tempo. Still an exciting contest, some were disappointed that both fighters did not go to war. This time most observers saw Morales as the winner, but it was Barrera who was awarded a unanimous decision by the judges.

    Morales did not take his first loss to heart because the popular opinion saw him as the winner. He marched forward, rolling over Paulie Ayala for the vacant WBC featherweight title, stopping Guty Espades, Jr. in a rematch and moving up to the super featherweight division in chase of a third title in his third weight class.

    Some experts were skeptical of his move to 130-pounds, feeling that he may not be big enough or strong enough for the weight. He proved most wrong by beating Jesus Chavez for the WBC super featherweight title and then captured the IBF version by beating Carlos Hernandez.

    On November 27, 2004 - he met Marco Antonio Barrera for the third time. Few knew what to expect from the fight. Barrera was still trying to rebuild his career after suffering a one-sided beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao a year earlier. Morales was viewed a beast coming into this contest, a solid favorite to win.

    The trilogy bout was much closer to their first meeting as Barrera attacked from the start of the first round, and both of them fought at high pace for entire contest. In a minor upset, Barrera pulled away with a majority decision. The fight only infuriated Morales who threw water at Barrera even before the decision was announced.

    In the tradition of never taking an easy fight, Morales signed to face Barrera conqueror Manny Pacquiao in a bout scheduled for March of 2005. Morales came to ring in a new role, as the underdog. The fight was being called the “fight of the year” before either man stepped inside the ring. Pacquiao was taking on the best Mexico had to offer, knocking out Barrera and fighting to a controversial draw with Juan Manuel Marquez. Morales was Mexico’s last hope for a win.

    The fight delivered as promised, action and more action for twelve rounds. They fought often at close range with neither fighter taking a step back. Morales did his homework and was able to maneuver Pacquiao around the ring, keeping him at the end of his punches at all times and fighting when needed. When the unanimous decision was announced for Morales, his career was back on track in a big way.

    But, he miscalculated his next career decision - a move up in weight to the lightweight limit of 135-pounds. The opponent of choice, Zahir Raheem. Morales and Pacquiao fought on the same card, September 10, 2005, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The card was set up as a preview card for a January pay-per-view rematch between Morales and Pacquaio. Most of the public overlooked Raheem, including Morales. He was no longer the bigger man at 135, being outhustled by the faster Raheem as he dropped a unanimous decision.

    Regardless of the loss to Raheem, Morales' promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank decided to still go forward with the January pay-per-view date with Pacquiao. Yet again, Morales' made the wrong career move. After trying build his weight up in order to face Raheem at 135, and weighing as much as 147-pounds on the night of the fight, he almost destroyed himself by moving back down a division in order to make the 130-pound weight limit for Pacquiao.

    Morales had the appearance of a dead man at the weigh-in, and seemed to be barely able to function backstage. Once he stepped in the ring with Pacquiao for the second time, he fought slow and sluggish. A competitive bout in the beginning, Morales appeared to fade with each passing round as Pacquiao grew stronger and began to punish him with power punches to the head and body. Between the eight and ninth rounds, Morales began complaining to his corner that he his legs were very tired and that he was feeling fatigued.

    In the tenth, Morales had nothing left in the tank while Pacquiao began to unload the kitchen. A combination to the head sent Morales down to the floor. While he was down, his expression told the story of man that was beaten physically and mentally. He beat the count, but Pacquiao began to beat him down for the second knockdown. The referee had seen enough and stopped the contest. It was the first time Morales was knocked out in a prizefight.

    After his loss to Pacquiao, rumors began to circulate that Morales was going to retire, that he was a shot fighter.

    An immediate third meeting with Pacquiao was not something that people expected. Morales could not retire on a losing note, he wanted revenge and he also wanted to prove to himself that was still the same fighter. There are no excuses in this fight. Morales has undergone through the respected Velocity training program and has been carefully watched, trained and weighed througout his preparations for this fight.

    Another loss would equate to retirement in the eyes of many, including Morales. It would be his fourth loss in five bouts. A win on the other hand would bring him back to the top. After losing a trilogy with Barrera, it would mentally kill him to lose another trilogy.

    The people of Mexico will be chanting in support as he makes his way down to ring for what could be the final bout of his career. Win or lose, the one thing we can count on is Morales giving 100-percent in the ring.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    It's Always Something with Manny Pacquiao
    By Steve Kim from Max Boxing

    The smile is back on his face. There is a bounce in his step as he walks into the gym. His energy level is as frenetic as ever. And get this, as Manny Pacquiao prepared for his third and final chapter against Erik Morales this Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, he was not only showing up on time to the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, for his daily workouts, on most days he was coming in about a half-hour early from his scheduled time of one in the afternoon.

    Yeah, a fighter who actually showed up early. Imagine that.

    Contrast that to the perpetual frown Pacquiao wore throughout the summer as he prepped for Oscar Larios. In-house bickering between his American and Filipino advisors had weighed down the usually effervescent 'Pac Man'.

    “This is a lot more focused," Pacquiao would tell Maxboxing last Wednesday afternoon after going through his daily routine, which included eight brisk rounds of sparring. "Forget the distractions."

    This training camp has been a productive one. Without the tug-of-war this time around between advisors Shelly Finkel and Wakee Salud, Pacquiao may have had his best camp since his groundbreaking win over Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003.

    "Definitely, he's really focused for this one and he knows this is the biggest fight of his life right now and we know Morales is going to come prepared and hopefully the hard work pays off," said his trainer, Freddie Roach. And unlike his preparations for Larios, Pacquiao came in much lighter.

    "He started training in Sebu and he came here at 136 pounds," said Roach, who mentioned that for the last training camp, his fighter was in the mid-140's starting off. "He's maintained very well and he's been at the weight for a long period of time. So he's on weight already."

    While Morales will always struggle to make 130 pounds, you shouldn't expect any such problems from the Filipino icon.

    “We’ve had a good training camp and the thing was, we also had eight weeks so we didn't have to rush everything in and start sparring right away," Roach explained. "We waited a couple weeks, we built a conditioning level first, and it worked out much easier and we took our time to get in shape gradually, instead of just throwing everything in a six week camp. The eight week camp worked out very well."

    For all the pomp and circumstance that perennially surrounds him, there is nobody in the game of boxing that works as feverishly - and with such relish - as Pacquiao. It takes three or four sparring partners over a 12 round stretch to give him the type of work he craves. The level of intensity he brings to the gym is palpable, and at times, gym stopping, as other fighters look on with admiration at his work ethic.

    While many pundits may overlook Erik Morales - a loser in three of his last four bouts - it's clear that Pacquiao isn't.

    But there's a saying in Boston about the mercurial Manny Ramirez and his star-crossed ways. 'Manny being Manny' is the term they used for the Red Sox slugger who is known just as much for his annual 35 home runs and 120 runs batted in as he is for head-scratching ways that leave his teammates and management befuddled on an annual basis.

    Well, you could say the same thing for Pacquiao, who is seemingly always in the middle some dispute regarding the direction and control of his own career. First it was Murad Muhammad, Rod Nazario, Finkel, and Salud who were embroiled in various clashes, and now it's a battle between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, which has promoted his last three bouts.

    Two months ago, as he touched down in Los Angeles, he would be whisked away by Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, who would sign him to a promotional contract from right under the noses of a stunned Bob Arum and Top Rank. It was a puzzling move to many - why would Pacquiao not wait until his bout with Morales to go out into the open market and become a free agent with his value at it's optimum peak? (should he down Morales once again, of course)

    When asked why he inked the deal with Golden Boy, Pacquiao would say, "We don't need to talk about that. I'm very focused on this upcoming fight. Let's talk about my coming fight."

    Arum, whose company is promoting this weekend’s event, still believes that when it's all said and done, Pacquiao will be under the Top Rank banner.

    “It’ll all come clear after the fight," he would say last Thursday afternoon at the Wild Card, where it was media day. As he said this, his countenance was that of a poker player with a few trump cards in his possession.

    But Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, says they have Pacquiao signed, sealed and delivered.

    “We have a signed and executed deal which was approved by whoever needed to approve it," he would tell Maxboxing on Friday. "It was negotiated with his attorney, it was hotly negotiated. So it wasn't just like, 'Here, sign your name.' There were many back and forths and he signed and it's done and absolutely he collected a signing bonus. So everything is done and Oscar and him are talking on a regular basis. I think they're talking every week and so everything is good.

    “As for Arum's claims, I guess we're going to see that after the fight. We don't really want to rock the boat, either, because it really wouldn't be fair to Pacquiao. We don't want to distract him. So that's why we didn't send anybody yesterday to the media day. Let the kid focus in on the fight and the rest will play out. If Bob Arum continues to make these claims or is going to go even further then he'll subject himself to a contract interference claim on our part."

    This is just the latest salvo in the on-going cold war between Arum and his former protégé’s company. And the dispute extends beyond Pacquiao. Recently, there was an altercation over the services of one Jimrex Jaca, who is slated to face Juan Manuel Marquez on a Golden Boy promoted 'Boxing After Dark' telecast on November 25th.

    “His former manager - or so he claimed - never approved that fight for Jaca fighting Marquez on the 25th and he actually had Jaca fighting on Arum's card for $7,500," Schaefer would explain. "Even though he can make $60,000 in our fight and fighting for a title. But he claimed that he never approved it, he never did this, he never did that. Well, funnily enough, we get a copy of the correspondence, through funny circumstances, where he did actually ask the Game and Amusement Board in the Philippines, which I guess is the sanctioning body there as it relates to boxing, where he actually - in writing -Wakee Salud, which is Pacquiao's guy as well, supposedly, asks for the fight to be sanctioned for November 25th against Juan Manuel Marquez.

    “A day later the GAB approved that fight. So for this guy to suddenly go and make these kinds of claims, I know what happened and I know who called who. And I know who tried to interfere."

    The inference is clear on Schaefer’s part; he believes Arum's fingerprints are all over this. But they say that all's fair in love and war. The animosity between the two sides has escalated in recent weeks.

    “Y’know what the sad thing is? I'm not like that, I really don't like it," said Schaefer. "I called Bob, I picked up the phone, I set up a meeting with him. Guess when of all days? On my birthday, October 25th. I told Bob,' Y'know what? Let's sit down and see if we can put this silly stuff behind us and move on. We don't need this.' Bob said, 'I don't like to deal with the lawyers' and stuff like that.

    "So I said,' Well, let's do it on the 25th, it's my birthday, better not mess up my birthday.' He was laughing. So we had that conversation. A couple of days later he goes on the record somewhere and trashed Golden Boy again and 'Pacquiao is with me and they're going to see what's coming and I have an ace up my sleeve.'

    “He basically attacks Golden Boy again."

    But according to Roach, all this bickering and bantering hasn't been a distraction to his fighter, who has insulated himself from all the rhetoric by immersing himself into the work at hand.

    “He really hasn't let it be (a distraction) because after he got here and signed with Golden Boy that night, he doesn't bother with it at all. I mean he hears rumors from Arum, he gets calls back and forth and so forth, but he's not taking the calls and he's just staying focused for the fight. Even when Oscar tries to call him, he says, 'Hey, I'm training for a fight right now, let's talk about whatever needs to be taken care of after the fight.'"

    That's just Manny being Manny.

    PPV NUMBERS

    HBO PPV announced that Floyd Mayweather’s bout against Carlos Baldomir did 325,000 buys. If you put this in perspective, Pacquiao and Morales, two featherweights who really don't speak English will most likely do anywhere between 350,000-400,000 subscriptions next weekend. Also, Mayweather’s previous pay-per-view telecasts did around 370,000 buys, so this can be looked on as a step backward in the building of 'the Pretty Boy' as a pay-per-view franchise.

    I couldn't resist asking Bob Arum if he agreed.

    “Oh absolutely, I mean who the hell wants to see him fight? That's why as a promoter I would put him in - other than bulls**t HBO fights- I'm talking about pay-per-view, compelling attractions like Gatti, like Judah - the rivalry and so forth - and like Margarito. Because Margarito would've made him fight. Floyd's a great, great talent but that's who he should be fighting. Somebody that challenges him. Not a club fighter like Baldomir."

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    On first outlook, one would pick Manny since Morales went through a beating and has the much more weary body from the wars he's been in. But then one sees how Morales outboxed him the first fight and was doing the same thing in the rematch until his nose got completely smashed.

    I pick Pacman. But Morales perhaps has one more great fight left in him.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    If Morales has not been training to cut the weight but has in fact been working on beating Pac, he should be able to pull it off. But from the pictures I just saw of him @ fightnew I don't know if thats true. He looked a little worn.

  8. #8
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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    pac man is using steroids. hes body definition is surreal. i mean it doesnt mean that cos hes a small guy he aint using roids. he absolutely looks like hes on steroids.

    moralesby ko 1 no kidding.

    manny p is in a serious serious surprise. erik is going to jump on him early when he doesnt expect it. remember the 1st when morales almost threw pac out of the ring? it was sick. id like to see pac get knocked down and see how he fights back after going so deep. will he drown or swin to salvation?

    however i guess it doesnt matter cos im going to be watching the ufc. 10x the better show p4p for your money's worth. arum cant put forth a good event. oscar should have promoted this fight... oh well, theres youtube anyhow
    Last edited by 10i01; 11-16-2006 at 11:06 AM.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Manny, Mo and Pac
    By Rick Folstad from Sweet Science

    It was mentioned the other day that while Manny Pacquiao was busy training to fight Erik Morales, Erik Morales wasn’t only busy training to fight Manny Pacquiao. He was also busy training to make weight.

    Tough way to make a buck.

    Doesn’t seem quite fair to Morales. He’s got two personal demons to deal with, and one of them packs a pretty good wallop and won’t go away with a little sweat.

    “Morales is training hard to make weight and training hard to win,” Pacquiao said on a conference call promoting Saturday‘s super-featherweight rubber match with Morales (48-4, 34 KOs) at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas (HBO PPV). “That’s a lot for a fighter to do.”

    But Pacquiao (42-3-2, 33 KOs) can’t do much about Morales’ growth spurts or dinner habits. And he sure can’t let it get into his head that Morales might come into the ring Saturday night a tired, drained fighter who already took a standing eight-count in a close win over his weight problem.

    Pacquiao should be ready for just the opposite.

    But after two fights with Morales , Pacquiao knows that. He knows what “El Terrible” can bring and bring and bring again. And that’s the guy Pacquiao says he’s training for, not the one who might have left most of his fight in little puddles back on the gym floor.

    “We worked twice as hard than at any other training camp before,” Pacquiao said. “We’re going to put on a great fight and make the fans happy.”

    That’s a pretty safe promise on behalf of Pacquiao.

    Morales always shows up for a fight with a chip on his shoulder, a do-or-die look in his eye and a heart the size of a Buick.

    And Pacquiao? Promoter Bob Arum calls him the Energizer Bunny because he “just keeps coming and coming and coming, and it’s phenomenal because he never gets tired.”

    Well, not that you can notice.

    They’re calling the fight “The Grand Finale,” which apparently means there aren’t any immediate plans for Morales-Pacquiao IV.

    But that’s probably a good thing. Doesn’t sound like Morales is very fond of continually working his way down to super-feather. I’m thinking “lightweight division” has a pretty good ring to it right about now.

    On top of everything else, both these guys have entire nations waiting to party hardy on their behalf. For Morales, who was born in Tijuana, it’s Mexico. For Pacquiao, it’s the Philippines.

    Expect some late-night revelers in both countries regardless of who wins.

    “Our fight is bigger than the two of us because we carry more into the ring than most other fighters,” said Pacquiao, already a legend in his homeland. “We carry the heart and soul of our people and the pride and honor of our nations. The pressure on us is enormous, which is why I will be on the attack the second I hear the bell for round one.”

    More important, a quick attack might also be a smart way to win a big fight.

    “I don’t want to give him a little bit of confidence, so I will be testing him early and I will not stop,” Pacquiao said. “I trained hard this time.”

    He did it right. He only trained to fight Morales.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Erik Morales - Starving to Fight
    By TK Stewart from Boxing Scene


    Try going several hours without eating. Then try going half the day. The hunger pangs will set in. Then try an entire day. The floor begins to feel shaky and you feel unsteady on your feet. Then try two days or three days. Hallucinations begin to infiltrate your mind and it’s a struggle just to rise from a sitting position. Only then can you begin to imagine the pain of what Erik Morales has gone through while he strained to make his cadaverous body fit into a 130-pound suit that was bursting at the seams.

    HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant once said of Erik Morales when he was fighting as a stick thin 122-pound super bantamweight that, "He has the bodyfat of a nail." Morales is still stick thin and he is again paring himself down in his preparations to face Manny Pacquiao in their rubber match this Saturday night in Las Vegas.

    This time Morales says it will be easier because he has gone from the old school to the new school with his training regimen.

    In an effort to get his escalating weight under control, Morales turned to Velocity Sports Performance in Los Angeles, which is owned by training guru Chuck Debus, who has placed more athletes on Olympic and World Championship Teams than any coach in history. "You are what you train", says Debus. "If you wanna’ be fast, you gotta’ train fast. If you wanna’ be quick you gotta’ train quick."

    It’s Debus that Morales, at age 30, has come to in the twilight of his career for the scientifically designed training programs, state-of-the art training facilities and highly educated coaches. It’s a far cry from the downstairs gym in the Tijuana, Mexico family home where Morales cut his fistic teeth.

    Morales is philosophical and pragmatic about the reasons for changing his training regimen and explains it away flippantly, "Fundamentally, it was the weight", he says. "But the age, time, the routine…it’s good to mix it up." What Erik Morales doesn’t tell you is that without Debus and his scientifically designed routines he likely would never have stepped on a scale and looked down to see it read 130 pounds ever again.

    Morales’ radical move was a last ditch attempt to save a hall of fame career that was becoming marred not because of battles against opponents, but because of battles against the scales and his own appetite.

    Morales has lost three of his last four bouts and he credits two of the losses not to his opponents - but to his battles with his weight. His ill-thought foray into the 135-pound lightweight division resulted in a twelve round unanimous decision loss to the unheralded Zahir Raheem. His very next fight was the 10th round technical knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao in their second fight.

    Many were calling for Morales to retire after the successive losses to Raheem and Pacquiao, but the proud Morales would not hear of it and so here we are Saturday night in Las Vegas for the third meeting between the two 130-pound firecrackers.

    Morales has always been an intense and extremely proud fighter who will never admit that any opponent has ever gotten the better of him. In many respects he’s the Mexican version of 1970’s tough guy actor Robert Conrad, who once appeared in a famous television commercial for Eveready batteries with the little battery perched on his shoulder. Conrad glared into the camera and said, "Go ahead, I dare ya." Conrad was daring you to knock the battery and the enormous chip of his shoulder, much like Morales is daring Pacquiao and the rest of boxing world to show him that he is finished.

    Even though Morales was beaten up and humbled into a convincing defeat in his second fight against Pacquiao, he did win many of the early rounds before the strain of making weight caught up with him as much as the punches of Pacquiao did. Morales is almost as famous for his excuses as he is for his boxing accomplishments, "I hit him with some good punches. Then I hit a wall. I paid for the effort it took to make weight," claims Morales. He will often cavalierly dismiss the loss in the second fight to Pacquiao. Morales only wants to discuss his winning the first fight and says of Pacquiao’s punching power in that fight, "He didn’t have the power to do anything to me. He never really had the power to hit me hard and make me feel his strength."

    Clearly, Morales believes that he will be more fit and thus stronger on Saturday night. Many believe he will have to be or he might just have to call it a career. "For Erik, basically he wins this fight or that’s that. He won’t appear at this level of the sport again", says HBO boxing blow-by-blow commentator Jim Lampley who called the first two Morales vs. Pacquiao fights from ringside.

    As for Pacquiao, when he was asked for his views on Morales’ new high tech training methods he seemed unconvinced that it will help much. "I think it’s going to help him make his weight…but Morales is training hard to make weight and training hard to win. That’s a lot for a fighter to do."

    Pacquiao’s trainer, the brilliant Freddie Roach, seems unconvinced that Morales’ new training regimen is going to help him do any better on Saturday night. Roach has lost no love for Morales and he sees Morales as disrespectful and confrontational. In the weeks leading up to Saturday night Morales weighed in before a large group of assembled media in an effort to dispel the rumors that he would have a hard time making the 130-pound limit this time around. Morales tipped the scales at 142 pounds and appeared fit, solid and healthy.

    For his part, Roach remains unconvinced about Morales’ weight struggles and he had some words for Erik to chew on.

    "My goodness. I have never seen so many people surround one man to make sure he eats so little," commented Roach who was comparing his old school training methods against Morales’ team of personal trainers and diet gurus. "That was no weigh-in, it was a Weight Watchers meeting," chuckled Freddie. "I don't know what Velocity has on his menu, but I guarantee you on November 18th, Manny will be serving Erik a steady diet of Reyes leather all night long until he can eat no more."

    Just one question: How many calories are there in an eight-ounce boxing glove?

    TK Stewart is a 2005 Boxing Writers Association of America Barney Award winner. He works for the Bangor Daily News.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Can Morales Drive up Resurrection Blvd?
    By Steve Kim from Max Boxing

    This Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Erik Morales - a loser in three of his last four bouts - takes on the streaking Manny Pacquiao, who stopped ‘El Terrible’ in ten rounds this past January.

    For their rubbermatch, Pacquiao is the prohibitive favorite and considered among the world’s best pound-for-pound performers, while there are loud rumblings that Morales has seen his best day and the dreaded 'S'-word (as in 'shot') is being thrown around in association with the Tijuana tough guy.

    Like many other tough, proud champions of the past, does he have one last signature performance in his back pocket? Or has the well run dry for this future Hall-of-Famer?

    Noted trainer and HBO color commentator Emanuel Steward knows a little bit about resurrecting big-name fighters from the brink and shepherding them to renaissance victories in marquee events.

    Back in June of 1988, his most noted charge, Thomas Hearns, would be shocked in three rounds by the heavy-handed Iran Barkley. It would be the third knockout loss of his storied career. Then about four months later he would have to hold on for dear life in eking out a close decision versus James 'the Heat' Kinchen. At this point, it looked like the famed 'Hitman' of Detroit had run out of bullets - with nothing left in his legs.

    With this visual evidence in hand, the always opportunistic Ray Leonard would finally grant Hearns his long-awaited return bout, eight years after their historic meeting of 1981. They would meet in June of 1989.

    Hearns wasn't given much of a shot, and the timing of the bout seemed to favor the fresher Leonard, who was notorious for picking his spots.

    As Steward began preparing his fighter, he worked on his mind before his body.

    “A lot of it was telling Tommy that his whole legacy in boxing was shot if he didn't have a good performance," Steward would tell Maxboxing. "I said, 'You had a lot of great fights, but history is only going to remember two fights - Hearns and Leonard and Hearns-Hagler. The rest of your whole legacy, your whole life is gone.' The same thing could be said about Alexis Arguello - great fighter, but when you say his name, you think Aaron Pryor. That's all.

    "So it was more mental. When Tommy said, 'I will win this fight because my whole life is depending on this,' there were a lot of psychological things. So that's why when he was seriously hurt twice in that fight he would not go down because he was mentally determined. But it was a lot to do with his mindset going into that fight."

    They also went back to their roots - and kept things simple.

    “After he had won the title from Pipino Cuevas - we had trained in Detroit - after that, all these ritzy places. For Hagler, we trained down in Florida, we trained in Arizona for some other fights. And we got the rematch with Ray Leonard and I said, 'Tommy, let's do something we haven't done in 10 years since you won the title. Let's go back to training at Kronk."

    The Kronk Gym in 'the Motor City' was an assembly line of champions, known for it's gritty atmosphere and as Steward says, for it's, "Hot, warrior-mentality."

    And this attitude was reflected in their sartorial simplicity.

    “For the second fight with Ray Leonard, Tommy comes into the ring with a plain terry cloth robe on. Everyday after training we'd throw this on him as he was talking to people, just to keep his sweat," Steward explains. "So the night before the fight they're coming in there with all these new outfits, I said, 'Tommy, do me a favor, the robe we've been working out with everyday, I want you to wear tomorrow night.' He looked at me like I was crazy. I had them go clean that terry cloth robe and had him come in with that.

    “Then there was usually a guy for the last few fights that was always coming the day of the fights to give him a haircut and shave. I gave the guy $200 and told him to 'Get the hell out of here. We'll go just the way he is.' We went back to basic stuff. We were so focused in our camp on worrying about what outfits we were going to wear, worrying about how he gotta be shaved, worrying about this, worrying about that. We just kept everything simple and basic and focused mainly on beating Ray Leonard."

    On a hot, sweltering Vegas night at Caesars Palace, Hearns would floor Leonard twice - while surviving a 12th round onslaught - to earn a draw in a bout that the large majority of observers felt he won.

    In November of 1992, Evander Holyfield would give up the heavyweight title to the bigger, stronger Riddick Bowe. It would be his first professional defeat, and if it were up to his handlers and loved ones, his last one, as they urged him to retire afterwards. And for a spell he did, calling it quits before returning to the ring and struggling to a 10-round verdict against Alex Stewart in June of 1993. Eventually, a rematch was scheduled with 'Big Daddy' for that November.

    Steward was called upon to train 'the Real Deal'.

    “The rematch with Riddick Bowe, it was so funny, MC Hammer asked me when I was in Mexico training Gerald McClellan if I would train Evander," remembered Steward. "So I went down to meet Evander and I said, 'Evander, I'm going to be honest with you. I don't want to train you because I don't know how you're going to beat Riddick. Riddick is bigger than you, Riddick is younger than you, Riddick actually beat you with a jab on the last fight, on the inside he's a better fighter than you. Remember all those uppercuts he was hitting you with? And he's been more active than you."

    Upon lifting the title from Holyfield and during his short hiatus, Bowe had looked dominant in his first two title defenses, easily halting Michael Dokes and Jesse Ferguson.

    "So what happens is based on his confidence in me from the amateur days, I decided I would work with him." And soon, he would come across an epiphany on the dance floor. "We were out dancing one night shortly after we started training and me and him were both dancing at 1:30 at night and on the way home it hit me, 'Wait a minute, that's what we're going to do. We're going to beat him with the rhythm. Because everything else he's superior to you but we're going to take that big size of his and make it a handicap.' He said, 'What you mean?' 'We're going to move in-and-out, explode, in-and-out, explode, left, right, in-and-out, explode. Everything’s going to be in-and-out and explode and keep him twisting and turning. Never go straight in like you did the first fight.' And that was the trick in training."

    A heavier Bowe would have problems getting a bead on the suddenly mobile Holyfield. And in what was considered a stunning upset at the time, Holyfield would recapture his heavyweight crown.

    "The footwork was a big factor with crisp, short punches. But Bowe's size would've been a big advantage if he was meeting him head-on. But by changing up and making him move and change, it was a handicap. He was having problems turning, changing and pivoting and Evander was in and out with crisp punches."

    But what may have been Evander’s greatest weapon was his incredible self-belief. Playing David to Bowe's Goliath never deterred the spiritual Holyfield.

    “His mother pulled me aside when I went down to Atlanta and said, 'Manny, Chubby's got a lot of faith in you and all the rest of the family, too. But let me tell you something, if Chubby gets hurt, don't hesitate on stopping it because I don't want him to fight again. That boy beat him up the last fight.'"

    “Nobody had faith but Evander himself. I didn't have much faith until after I realized Evander had good footwork, which he didn't use that much. But for that fight, that's what we went to and I found that little spot. But that was that one spot I was able to turn into a victory for us."

    So how does this apply to Morales? Does he have the ingredients to upset Pacquiao? Steward believes yes and no.

    One factor against him in his eyes is that Morales may simply have too many hard miles on his odometer and a style that is prone to slugfests. Unlike a Hearns or a Holyfield that could shuffle the deck at times, Morales is usually a straight-ahead brawler.

    “I think the punishment he had taken out of him and then to be going in there with a strong, energetic fighter, I think just that combination, the energy level that Pacquiao brings, is just the wrong thing for him at this stage," Steward says. And the ending of their January bout was telling. "It's the way he went down. He was just beaten down. Sometimes a fighter gets off-balance or is just tired. But the way Pacquiao had him go down, it's the same way Gatti went down (against Carlos Baldomir) and they were just beaten down guys. They just gave in and succumbed."

    While Holyfield used his mobility to offset Bowe, and Hearns had a rapier-like left jab that could keep Leonard at bay, Morales likes to stand and deliver.

    “Erik is a warrior," says Steward, who will be ringside for HBO Pay-Per-View this weekend, calling the action. "I hate to say it, he likes to fight. He fought an intelligent fight with Barrera once, but other than that, he really likes to bang."

    Morales and his camp have stated that one of the big issues that have recently plagued their recent performances is the inability to make the 130-pound weight limit effectively. With that in mind, he enlisted the help of Velocity Personal Training to overlook his diet, nutrition and physical conditioning.

    “In this case, I think it's good because evidently weight-making has been a big, big factor with him," says Steward. "Myself, I like to do everything. For the most part I'm not really into conditioners and nutritionists because I've spent enough time studying and reading about this stuff myself and most of them get in the way. The fighter’s mind is more into that part of it than boxing.

    Steward recalls a fighter meeting the HBO crew had with Fernando Vargas before his ill-fated bout against Oscar De La Hoya, in which he was not only knocked out by his arch-rival, he then tested positive for steroids. Leading into that contest, Vargas had talked incessantly of his chiseled physique and new personal trainer Mazzan Ali.

    "At the end of the interview, before we left the room, I said (to him), "Man, do you do any boxing, anymore?'"

    In another change - and a case of going back to the past - Morales will have his father, Jose, back in the corner. Jose Luis Lopez Sr. was in his corner for the January bout.

    “I don't think it's going to hurt him, to be honest with you," Steward says of the switch. "The main thing he's got to do is be in good shape and he's got to be mentally determined. That's a big factor in this fight and I do think bringing the weight down properly is going to be important and I don't know if he knows how to do that."

    But he knows it's never wise to count out guys like Morales. And besides, anything can happen in a fight - such as a parachuter swooping down on the ring in the middle of the bout. There's a reason why you fight the fights.

    And how many times have pundits counted out Morales in the past? Through all his legendary encounters with Barrera, then In Jin Chi, Wayne McCullough, Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez and Daniel Zaragoza, there was always a conventional wisdom that Morales wouldn't be long for this game. But yet, for years he has thrived. The great ones find a way to get it done, somehow, someway.

    It wouldn't be wise to completely dismiss a man with this kind of resume.

    “I can't count out a warrior like Morales because he's still going to be fighting and Manny could have a cold the night before or a problem with a rib or hand. And Morales is going to be fighting, he's not going to back away. A guy with a fighting mentality, you can never, ever count him out."

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    End of The Line for ‘El Terrible
    By Calvin Watkins from Max boxing


    Maybe the decline started in 2000, when Erik Morales won a split decision over Marco Antonio Barrera.

    Maybe.

    Or maybe he was just ‘okay’. But after years of grueling fights, trying to make weight, and moving up and down weight classes, maybe, just maybe, the great Erik Morales is done.

    Maybe.

    Saturday night, Morales takes on Manny Pacquiao. To say the fight will be tough disrespects the fighters and everyone involved in the promotion. The fight is the end all be all for both, especially for Morales.

    He needs this fight. But he can’t win it. His body is too broken down. His spirit is willing, but his body has taken too many beatings. You saw it last year when some cat named Zahir Raheem won a 12 round decision against Morales.

    Yet, Morales got a rematch with Pacquiao in January. Morales lost, not by some decision, he lost by technical knockout.

    “You know, at the first fight I needed to win,” Morales said. “I was with a sense of urgency. I needed to get credibility back in my career after coming off a tough loss and you know, I think I was ready. I prepared myself as well as I ever have for that first fight and it showed.”

    So now the promoters want to do this again and who can blame them.

    Promoter Bob Arum said $2.6 million worth of tickets have been sold for the third fight. The fight is just $200,000 away from a sellout and ticket sales have surpassed the total for Morales-Pacquiao II.

    They are calling this fight “The Grand Finale!” It’s the proper name and not because a fourth one won’t occur. It’s the ending of Morales’ career as a top flight fighter.
    Unfortunately, you can always tell the ending of a fighter’s career when the losses pile up.

    Roy Jones Jr. had just beaten Antonio Tarver by majority decision in November 2003. It appeared Tarver won the fight. Anyway, Jones should have left well enough alone but couldn’t. The money, fame and all that other stuff kept him around. He lost three straight times, two to Tarver, once to Glen Johnson, in bouts that sent his career spiraling out of control.

    Evander Holyfield’s little comeback is nice and all and I’m proud of him. He’s healthy and has a good trainer in Ronnie Shields behind him. But after he beat Hasim Rahman by technical decision in 2002, he lost three straight.

    Then there’s Fernando Vargas who lost two fights, in convincing fashion, to Shane Mosley this year. Vargas is no longer a top fighter, just a pug now.

    Which brings us back to Morales. He’s too good to be just a pug or a fighter just hanging around for money and fame. He’s a Hall of Famer. He goes in with no questions asked.
    He’s on the back end of his career now, and that’s fine. All the great ones fight on the back end of their careers. It’s just that the great fighters are the last to see it.

    “I feel very good about this fight,” Morales said. “There’s no pressure, I feel no pressure. I know what I needed to do to get to this fight, to win this fight and I’ve done it. I feel like I’ve done everything I needed to do and that I don’t see why there should be any pressure for me in this fight as long as I did my work, which I have done, and be ready for this type of fight.”

    This should be his last fight win or lose. But he’ll lose because his body will betray him.
    How do we know this? History tells us so.

    Morales was asked on a conference call the other day about losing the fight; will he no longer considered a top fighter?

    Morales, a smart guy who is great with the fans, media and people close to him, handled the question with class.

    “You know this is a very important fight,” he said. “I know that I need to win, that’s why I – we - work so hard; you know, I have a lot of help here. I have a real good team, Top Rank that helped me a lot to do everything that I can to do this. I’ve taken this fight very seriously and yes it’s very important to win it.”

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    National Honor At Stake
    In this corner: Pacquiao vs. Morales again

    By Chuck Johnson, USA TODAY
    Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales each own a victory against the other heading into their third fight, billed as "The Grand Finale" Saturday night (9 ET, HBO PPV, $49.95) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
    Pacquiao (42-3-2, 32 KOs), from The Philippines, and Morales (48-4, 34 KOs), from Mexico, each has won world titles in three weight divisions and each represents national pride to his country.

    "I must win," said Pacquiao, 27. "Our fight is bigger than the two of us because we carry more into the ring than most other fighters. We carry the heart and soul of our people and the pride and honor of our nations. The pressure on us is enormous, which is why I'll be on the attack the second I hear the bell for Round 1."

    For the 30-year-old Morales, the urgency of winning the super featherweight title fight is perhaps even greater because of the perception that his career is on the downslide. His loss to Pacquiao by a 10th-round TKO in January was the third defeat in Morales' last four fights. His most recent victory was a unanimous decision against Pacquiao in their first fight in March 2005 but he followed that six months later by an upset loss to Zahir Raheem.

    The situation Morales faces is not much different than when he beat Pacquiao, coming off a loss in his rematch against Marco Antonio Barrera.

    "At the first fight, I needed to win," he said. "I needed credibility back in my career coming off a tough loss and I was ready. I prepared myself for that first fight and it showed.

    "The second fight I just made too many changes in my camp, and I should have just stayed with what I had. But for this fight, I feel real good. I'm going to be ready as I've ever been for a fight."

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Pacquiao-Morales poised to join all-time great trilogies
    By Kieran Mulvaney
    Special to ESPN.com

    When Erik Morales (48-4, 34 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (42-3-2, 32 KOs) lock horns at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday, they will be looking to add an explosive finale to their own chapter in boxing history. Their first meeting, in March 2005, was so enthralling it merited a replay. When Pacquiao, who had been cut and outpointed by a regal Morales on that day, stormed back from a slow start to overpower and stop his Mexican foe in the rematch last January, it mandated a third, deciding bout.

    And should Saturday's fight prove to be anything close to as pulsating as its predecessors, then Morales and Pacquiao might enter boxing's annals in the same way as, for example, Leonard and Duran, Bowe and Holyfield -- or, for that matter, Morales and Barrera: forever linked as partners in a three-pronged fistic dance.

    'THE GRAND FINALE!'
    HBO PPV (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET)
    Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
    • Junior lightweights: Manny Pacquiao (42-3-2, 32 KOs) vs. Erik Morales (48-4, 34 KOs), 12 rounds, rubber match
    • Junior welterweights: Ricardo Torres (29-1, 27 KOs) vs. Mike Arnaoutis (17-0-1, 9 KOs), 12 rounds, for a vacant title
    • Junior flyweights: Omar Nino (24-2-1, 10 KOs) vs. Brian Viloria (19-1, 12 KOs), 12 rounds, rematch, for Nino's title
    • Junior lightweights: Juan Carlos Salgado (16-0-1, 13 KOs) vs. Marcos Licona (23-8-1, 8 KOs), 8 rounds

    "They're hyphenates," boxing historian Bert Sugar said of boxers who have become renowned for the trilogies they fought against each other. "You almost can't say Frazier without saying Ali. You can't say Graziano without Zale. Frank Sinatra once had a song called 'Love and Marriage.' You can't have one without the other. It's like Gilbert and Sullivan. It's like Cain and Abel. We tend not to remember any other of their goddamn fights."

    Trilogies evolve for a variety of reasons, explained Sugar.

    "Some are convenience. Some are box office. And yes, some may be looking for revenge, but it may not be revenge against the other person so much as for the loss on their résumé," he said.

    One thing trilogies generally do have in common is that the first fight is almost always exciting, eventful, or controversial enough to sustain the public desire for more, even if the return match is a relative disappointment -- which, in several cases (for example, Ali-Frazier, Gatti-Ward or Barrera-Morales) it has been. Jose Luis Castillo dominated Diego Corrales in their second fight last year, knocking him out in the fourth round. But the first fight -- in which Corrales had recovered from two 10th-round knockdowns to stop Castillo in the same frame -- had been so spectacular, and the controversies surrounding the rematch (specifically, the fact that Castillo had not made weight and thus was perceived to have a physical advantage over Corrales) so mitigating that there remained the clamor for a decider, and there would have been one had Castillo not failed to make weight again.


    AP Photo
    A 15th-round knockdown of Muhammad Ali sealed a unanimous decision for Joe Frazier in their first meeting at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971, set the foundation for an unforgettable trilogy.
    The initial bout in a series, whether for a title or not, might be an upset, but if the favored fighter gains revenge too easily, then the first result might be officially designated a fluke and the series might end at two. Case in point: when Lennox Lewis lost his heavyweight championship to a thunderous Hasim Rahman right hand in 2001, it was widely attributed to Lewis' slovenly approach to training and acclimatization to the South African altitude. When he thoroughly dominated Rahman in the rematch in Las Vegas, separating him from his senses with a sweeping overhand right in the fourth round, the point was made. Rahman had won the first time because Lewis' eyes had been off the ball. When he suggested a rubber match, Lewis laughed.

    Conversely, although Muhammad Ali avenged his shocking March 1973 points defeat to Ken Norton (in which Norton broke his jaw) with a decision victory of his own in September the same year, the manner of his triumph was far from decisive. It took three years -- during which time Ali spectacularly regained the heavyweight title by beating George Foreman, and completed a trilogy with his true, great rival, Joe Frazier -- but eventually Ali and Norton tangled a third time. Again, although Ali was adjudged to have triumphed, it was whisker close.

    In completing epic trilogies against two men -- Norton and Frazier -- Ali joined an elite fraternity, of which Morales will become the newest member on Saturday night when he puts the (presumably) finishing touches to the Pacquiao phase of his career and places the plaque on his mantelpiece next to his commemorative Marco Antonio Barrera trophy. Great Mexican bantamweight Ruben Olivares is in the same club, fighting Chuco Castillo three times in 1970 and 1971, and completing a triad of battles with Bobby Chacon in 1973, 1975 and 1978.

    Chacon would have joined them had his three fights with Bazooka Limon not spawned a fourth. Indeed, boxing history is more replete with rivals who passed through three fights on their way to four, five, six or more than it is with fighters who completed a trilogy and stopped there.

    "The third Robinson-LaMotta fight marked a trilogy," Sugar said. "Then there was a fourth fight, a fifth fight, a sixth fight."

    Among modern fighters, perhaps the champion at fighting opponents multiple times was Argentine light heavyweight Victor Galindez. Among his 70 bouts, he counted five against Jorge Ahumada, six versus Avenamar Peralta, and nine against Juan Aguilar. But even his record pales against some of the sport's true old-timers.

    The legendary Sam Langford, for example, fought Harry Wills 18 times, Sam McVey 15 times, and Joe Jeannette on 13 occasions -- partly because, as a black man boxing in the early 20th century, there were only certain opponents he was able to fight, and partly because, as HBO's Harold Lederman observed, boxers once fought far more frequently than they do now.

    "You're not going to get another Sugar Ray Robinson-Jake LaMotta six-fight series, because guys just don't fight that often. LaMotta and Robinson, I think, fought two of their epic battles two [in fact, three] weeks apart. And I think Robinson may have had a fight in between," he said.

    Particularly in Langford's time, noted Lederman, "There was no television and they wanted more people to get the opportunity to see them fight, and people would pay for it. In those days, they were paying the fighters based on gate receipts. So a guy like Langford wants to make money, he's going to fight the most exciting guy that he can, bring in the most amount of dollars at the door, so that if he's getting a percentage -- let's say he's getting 10 percent, something like that -- at least he has an opportunity to make a lot of money. So of course he fought Wills God knows how many times, or Jeannette God knows how many times, because people couldn't see it on TV, they had to go to the arena and see the fights. So if it was a great fight, he'd say to Wills, 'Hey, let's do it again.'"

    Today, even if fighters were inclined to fight often enough to allow such series to develop, fans would almost certainly start losing interest before long, no matter how good the fights were. Of course, some recent trilogies have taken place even without fan demand. The heavyweight series between Evander Holyfield and John Ruiz might have been closely fought and controversially scored, but few were slavering for the second, let alone the third, and even though the rivalry ended all square, with one win each and a draw in the third bout, nobody was beating down the door for a fourth battle to settle it all.

    Bernard Hopkins fought Robert Allen a second time, in February 1999, because their first contest, 5½ months earlier, had had such a bizarre and inconclusive ending: Referee Mills Lane, attempting to separate the two fighters from a clinch, accidentally shoved Hopkins out of the ring and to the arena floor, injuring the middleweight champion and causing the bout to be declared a no-contest. The rematch, however, was one-sided, Hopkins dropping Allen in the second and sixth rounds and stopping him in the seventh. There was no interest whatsoever in a third go-round, but by 2004, Allen had worked himself up to mandatory contender status; once again, Hopkins dominated him, this time en route to a pedestrian 12-round decision.

    Similarly, there was a period when Bronco McKart seemingly couldn't avoid Winky Wright even if he wanted to -- and by the end, he must indeed have wished he had. The first time they met, in 1996 for McKart's WBO junior middleweight belt, it was a close affair, with Wright prevailing by split decision. When they next fought four years later, in an eliminator for the IBF title, Wright was much improved, and eased to a dominant, unanimous points verdict. By the time they faced off a third time, McKart now challenging Wright for that IBF title, Wright's superiority was total, and the flummoxed McKart, unable to mount any meaningful offense, was disqualified for repeated low blows.

    On the other hand, the series between Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver, two local rivals with genuine disdain for each other, had all the ingredients for a classic trilogy.

    Their first fight, in November 2003, was a barn burner; Jones was forced to cover up against the ropes as Tarver bombarded him, but Jones was able to seize control with his hand speed when the action moved to center ring. The result was a disputed majority decision for Jones, but if it was a shock to see Jones -- who had barely lost even a single minute of a single round over the past decade -- struggling so mightily in that first fight, it was as nothing compared to the reaction when Tarver poleaxed him with a left hand down the middle in the second round of their rematch. Twelve thousand souls stood, mouths agape, in disbelief at seeing the pound-for-pound king knocked out by his hated foe.

    The stage was set for an enthralling rubber match. But Jones was knocked out cold in a supposed tuneup by Glen Johnson, who then went on to beat Tarver, before Tarver outpointed Johnson in a rematch. By the time Tarver and Jones did meet again, they were both severely damaged goods, and what little action there was in the third fight served only to highlight how far both men had fallen, and how fast.

    Because Morales has lost three of his last four fights (including the second bout with Pacquiao and the third fight with Barrera), there is a sense that he, too, might be at the end of the road. Unlike Jones and Tarver, however, few expect him to go out with a whimper. There is every possibility that, by Sunday morning, Morales and Pacquiao will already be regarded with the same reverence as some of the great trilogies before them.

    "I think people are excited by Morales-Pacquiao, not just because it's Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao, but because they're saying, 'We saw these guys twice before, they fought two great fights, we want to see another great fight,'" Lederman said. "The first two fights were great, and I think the third fight's going to be great. I'm expecting nothing but a knock-down, drag-out war from the get-go. I can't see Manny Pacquiao running away, I think he's going to come right at Erik Morales, and I think Morales is going to be ready with that huge right hand. I think it's going to be an exciting fight, and I'm really, really looking forward to it."

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Quote Originally Posted by 10i01
    pac man is using steroids. hes body definition is surreal. i mean it doesnt mean that cos hes a small guy he aint using roids. he absolutely looks like hes on steroids.

    moralesby ko 1 no kidding.

    manny p is in a serious serious surprise. erik is going to jump on him early when he doesnt expect it. remember the 1st when morales almost threw pac out of the ring? it was sick. id like to see pac get knocked down and see how he fights back after going so deep. will he drown or swin to salvation?

    however i guess it doesnt matter cos im going to be watching the ufc. 10x the better show p4p for your money's worth. arum cant put forth a good event. oscar should have promoted this fight... oh well, theres youtube anyhow
    This a great card all around you will be missing. 3 pick 'em fights IMO.
    And you won't see any chinless wonders here like in the UFC .

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    52 boxing writers and analysts were asked to pick a winner between Pacquiao vs. Morales III scheduled for November 18th in Las Vegas.

    39 predicted Pacquiao (75%)

    11 predicted Morales (21.2%)

    2 predicted a draw (3.8%)

    For the record, I'm going with Erik Morales by decision. (I was one of those 52)

    TKS

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Pacquiao-Morales III Fight Predictions
    from Sweet Science

    Live Saturday night from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada (HBO PPV), Manny Pacquiao meets Erik Morales for the third bout of their classic trilogy. Tijuana’s El Terrible (48-4, 34 KOs) beat Pac-Man (42-3-2, 32 KOs), from General Santos City, The Philippines, to the punch in their first go-round, but it was close, whereas Manny turned the tables in the rematch and handed Morales his first loss by KO. Now the two warriors meet in the rubber match, with one fighter (Pacquiao) on the ascendant, at the top of his game, and the other fighter (Morales) hoping to regain his former status as one of Mexico’s premier fistic assassins. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Pacquiao-Morales III.

    There's little reason to believe this rubber match will be any different than the rematch. Morales appeared old, tired and used up. Pacquiao is at the top of his game. That said, don't be surprised if this one is a little more competitive than the last one. Morales, with his new training regimen, may use the jab more. But the bottom line is that he doesn't have the stamina to last with a whirlwind like Pac-Man. Every great fighter has his day. Saturday will be a sad one for the great "El Terrible." Pacquiao TKO 11.
    Matthew Aguilar

    Expect Pacquiao do a demolition job on a shot Morales. Morales will probably fight well for three rounds but the drop in weight is too much for the aging warrior who will go out on his shield between rounds eight and ten.
    Peter M. Carvill

    It's a good idea not to go against Pac-Man. I won't say Erik Morales is washed up or is a has-been, but the smart money is still on Manny for at least the decision.
    Jesse K. Cox

    Despite his new training methods, I think losing the weight is still going to come up and bite Morales in the behind somewhere around the ninth or tenth round. It seems tougher every fight for him to get down to 130. If he even gets there for this fight. I'm picking Pacquiao to stop Morales sometime after the tenth. If Morales comes in at 133 and they still fight, all bets are off.
    Rick Folstad

    I feel Morales knows how to beat Pac-Man since he's done it in the past. This will be all up to conditioning for Morales. Everything I've been hearing regarding the Morales camp is extremely positive so I'm predicting a unanimous decision win for "El Terrible" who will try to take Pacquiao to school.
    Ralph Gonzalez

    Here comes another shootout, and it's one I just can't see Morales winning. Pac Man in 9.
    Randy Gordon

    Morales has lost something along the way and Manny Pac is still picking up steam. The weight loss and years of hard battles have taken their toll. "Pac Man" will soundly defeat "El Terrible" and I'll bravely say by brutal 8th round stoppage.
    Amy Green

    All things being equal the younger, stronger fighter should prevail. Not that the issue of Erik Morales fighting Manny Pacquiao in November of 2006 speaks to equality, balance and indistinguishable terms for our referencing. Morales, mentally worn at 30, seeks to reconstitute himself for the rubber match with Manny Pacquiao. He's taken his body down to weight scientifically. He believes he's a new man at 130. Pacquiao, who reversed a decision lost with a stoppage win in the rematch, will be hoping to better his own best performance, playing the faster, more powerful hitting soldier of fortune. Neither man is afraid of the other. Morales will have to erase Pacquiao's advantages applying tactical brilliance, something he's disdained in the last four mega fights he's contested. No one tells Morales how to win; he's closed his door to adaptive impulses, or so it seems. We are ripe for a surprise; but, Pacquiao's a superstitious guy. He's ready for something magical from Morales, one last flight toward greatness. The Philippine star and Freddie Roach are ready, waiting, solutions laced up. They are not about to be surprised. Or so they have been saying."
    Patrick Kehoe

    If things hold to form this one could be decided by respective expertise of the combatants' cutmen. Barrera has a lot of miles on him, and I expect Pacquiao to prevail if one of them doesn't bleed to death first. If Pac-Man doesn't win it's probably an indication that those rumors of less-than-dedicated out-of-the-ring stuff may be true.
    George Kimball

    In short, this one is too close to call. Morales appears to be shedding the weight comfortably, while Pac-Man is still in prime form. I'm going out on a limb: Draw.
    Evan Korn

    You can't help but love a fight like Pacquiao – Morales. Both are fighters in every sense of the word and will bring their all to this battle. Morales has worked hard to get his weight and training right which makes the fight that much more appealing. The question is, just what does he have left? Pacquiao is in his prime which is why I'm leaning towards him winning a decision victory. The Filipino has it all and Morales is going to have to fight the fight of his life if he wants the win. Morales winning might be better for boxing as it would open up a host of other bouts but it's hard to bet against the Pacman. Manny Pacquiao via unanimous decision...or late round TKO.
    Scott Mallon

    Morales' well-documented weight problems could come back to haunt him in this fight. The always charging PacMan should be able to stop him even sooner than he did last time. Pacquaio TKO 9.
    Robert Mladinich

    Erik Morales has the blueprint to beat Manny Pacquiao. He showed it conclusively (though not to the populace of Manila) the first time they fought, much like Juan Manuel Marquez did after he was nearly vaporized by Pac in the first round: He moved side-to-side -- hands high -- behind an educated left jab and lead rights, keeping Pac off-balance and frustrated -- reducing him to hail-Mary lefts. Pac came back with a vengeance in the return, armed with a newly-developed right hook, courtsey of Freddie Roach, and duplicated what he did to Marco Antonio Barrera: shocked, beat-up, beat-down and left him in ruins. Whether it was “El Terrible’s” hubris or being weight-drained is for Monday morning quarterbacks. The defeat for Morales was so crushing; any thought of matching the two again would have been cruel and inhuman punishment. Manny put a period to Erik’s career, with an exclamation point. But, here we are again Saturday night for the rubber match. After being made to look like a wooden Indian against Zahir Raheem and the annihilation at Manny’s hands, most think the shell of Erik will be butchered even earlier. I don’t. Morales is a proud, proud man, seething to show Barrera and the world who’s best. Like Floyd Patterson that put the decimation by Ingmar Johansson behind him and stretched Ingo in the return, I think Morales will return to cold-blooded form, take charge, use his five-inch reach advantage and win convincingly.
    My heart’s with Manny. My instinct’s with Morales.
    Joe Rein

    Morales heads into his latest rubber match hoping to forget about the worst defeat of his career in which Pacquaio did the unthinkable and sent him down and out for the first time. He blamed his weight struggles as the reason for ending up on the canvas and he's confident he can handle Pacquaio's electrifying speed as he did in their first contest. The problem is that Morales isn't getting any younger and has to make the junior lightweight limit once more, which will surely take its toll. Look for Pacquaio to be too much for the aging Morales, with his speed, movement, and punching power once again proving to great an obstacle to overcome. Morales won't go easily though as he's still a dangerous foe and his valiant effort should make for an intriguing fight. Pacquaio by unanimous decision.
    Benn Schulberg

    I cannot find a reason to pick Morales, especially after his last two fights. Another KO victory by Pacquiao looms.
    Ed Schuyler

    Having lost three of his last four fights, one wonders what Erik Morales has left. While I do not think he is a shot fighter, he will not silence any naysayers on Saturday night. Manny Pacquiao by decision
    Aaron Tallent

    A fight where you put on your Mr. T mask and predict "pain." Pac-Man and El Terrible are so close in "styles make classics" status that it may come down to something like whoever fits the weight easier. In this case it appears to be Pacquiao.
    Phil Woolever

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    BoxingScene Staff Predictions: Manny Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales III
    submitted by Rick Reeno


    The long awaited trilogy bout between Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales is upon us. The two fighters will meet at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the main event of an HBO pay-per-view telecast.

    The odds are heavily stacked against Erik Morales. Most boxing insiders are not giving him much of a chance to win. It's not hard to see why Pacquiao is a heavy favorite in the bout when taking into account the fact Morales has lost three out of his last four bouts.

    Pacquiao wants to secure another impressive win in order to force a 2007 championship showdown with Marco Antonio Barrera. Recently, the WBC ruled that Marco Antonio Barrera must face the winner of Pacquiao-Morales.

    The staff of BoxingScene comes together to voice their opinions, strategies and predictions for the big fight.

    Ron Borges - Morales has taken advantage of old champions himself years ago, never thinking one day he might be on the opposite side of that equation. Pacquiao, only three years his junior but far less used up despite having been stopped twice himself early in his career, is among those who believes it is his time now, not Erik Morales'. He has youth, strength and punching power on his side, plus confidence born from having left Morales helpless on the floor 11 months ago, badly beaten and defenseless at the end.

    Tim Smith - Manny Pacquiao will pick up where he left off last time, leaving little room for Erik Morales to stay off the canvas.

    Manny Pacquiao by TKO in nine.

    Terence Dooley - A reinvigorated Morales to win a unanimous decision after a tough fight. People forget that Erik looked jaded in the second fight yet was out-boxing Manny in the early stages in much the way he had done in fight one.

    Manny showed some extra skills and body-shots yet Erik crumbled rather than found himself being blasted aside. Wear and tear may have played a part yet Erik has been able to refresh and regroup.

    Can Manny bring something new again or will he have enough to beat Erik a second time? As far as I see it Erik out-boxes him for most of the two fights until he crumbled in fight II.

    Erik is the better boxer and this mixed with the feeling Manny, plus his fans, has become complacent will see Erik out-box Manny to underline this rivalry and show that world-class skills beat a world-class attack.

    Morales by Decision

    JE Grant - When Manny Pacquiao met Erik Morales in March 2005 it was a giant fight despite the fact that Morales lost his previous bout to Marco Antonio Barrera. So good were Morales, Barrera and Pacquiao that fans knew going in that any of the three had a solid chance of winning on any given night.

    Unfortunately for Morales, while Barrera and Pacquiao have continued a blistering pace, he has clearly fallen behind.

    Although only 30 years old, his 52-fight career has taken its toll on his body and fighting spirit. He has now lost 3 of his last four fights but the recent drubbing by Pacquiao was the most telling of all. Despite his level best effort, the wheels weren't turning as fast or furiously as was the case just a couple of years ago. This fight will merely provide the exclamation point on what we really all know to be true: Morales is at the end of a Hall of Fame career and there's no going back.

    Pacquiao by KO in 5.

    Ronnie Nathanielsz - Before I saw the extensive video coverage of Erik Morales' gruelling training grind under the experts at the Velocity Sports Performance center I thought Manny Pacquiao would easily defeat Morales. But I now realize that Erik who lost weight in the past by dieting in an unscientific fashion has reduced weight in a very organized and scientific fashion without having to starve himself.

    He is also set to wear Cleto Reyes gloves which means, at least in the early rounds, he could hurt Pacquiao and if Manny gets careless he could be in trouble. Pacquiao too has trained harder than ever before and his tremendous speed and punching power should prevail in the end. But it wont be as easy as I believed before seeing the Velocity training video.

    Bradley Yeh - Erik Morales has given so many great relentless performances to boxing that I felt a little moved when considering my prediction. It’s never fun to announce that an old friend is a little out of date. However that’s similar to the way I felt when forced to compare Morales to Manny this time around.

    Morales has just been in so many wars, and this combined with his inflexible attitude in the ring (that previously has served him well) will, I believe will transport him to a place where he is unable to adapt and appropriately respond to that force and it’s speed of arrival, which Manny Pacquiao will constantly present.

    Eric Rineer - Erik Morales has meant a lot to the sport of boxing. He is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of the modern era and, this possibly, could be his final fight. Look for Erik to enter the ring with a lot of pride and give it his all on Saturday night. I think you will see flashes of his greatness against Manny Pacquiao. However, I don't believe Erik's best will be enough to tame the tiger who awaits him.

    Manny is arguably the best pound-for-pound puncher in the sport. He is at the top of his game and he's hungry: This guy is known to train at all hours of the day or night and I highly respect that type of dedication. I also give Manny an advantage at the weight they are fighting at: 130 pounds. Erik has had a tremendous career, but I think it will come to a close in Las Vegas.

    I like Manny Pacquiao by TKO in the 7th round.

    Tom Donelson - This is Erik Morales last stand and I see it ending as Custer's last stand, with Morales on the canvas. Morales was, and is still a great fighter, but he is much closer to the end than Pacquiao. Pacquiao has the speed advantage and his power matches up to Morales.

    Pacquiao wins by late round TKO.

    George Phillips - This will be a close and entertaining fight, but all 3 judges will see it for Morales.

    Morales by a 12 round unanimous decision.

    Glenn Wilson - We really don't know exactly how much Morales has left. He's been through some tremendous wars in the last few years. Morales' camp seems to think that his weight loss for each fight has started to take it's toll on Erik, so he took a different approach to losing weight, this time believing it will keep him strong for the fight.

    The counterpoint to this is that Pacquiao seems to be at the top of his game right now and that means trouble for Morales.

    Manny wins 8 rounds to 4 rounds in a fight of the year candidate and begins seeking fight four with Barrera.

    Dan Horlock - Morales has lost three of his last four fights, and I’m predicting that Pacquiao will bring about the Mexican’s retirement from the sport. In his prime, in shape and with his lightning fast hands, there is no one in this division that can live with the ‘PacMan’, least of all an ageing Morales.

    Manny Pacquiao will win by way of knockout in the Sixth Round.

    Brent Matteo Alderson - First of all let me pay homage to a warrior and clarify that I think Erik Morales is a Mexican legend, one of the greatest Mexican fighters of all time, but I think all the wars have caught up to him and Erik's stint as one of the world's finest fighters has come to an end.

    People are making a big deal about his special conditioning and nutritional team, but I think it's more hype than anything. Seriously, you don't think Erik was super-motivated to beat the Pacman in the second fight after he came in heavy and was thuroughly outboxed by Raheem four months earlier. Of course he was, he wanted to beat Manny the second time to erase the stench surrounding his performance against Zahir, but he just didn't have it. Even though Morales lost the fight, I still feel the second fight was one of the year's best fights.

    I was at Edwin Valero's title winning effort in Panama and still think Morales-Pacman II was a better fight, and this one will actually be worth paying for. It's because Morales is going out with the guns blazing. It's his mentality and even though he has a shot to stop Manny, especially since Oscar Larios had him stunned in their summer bout, I think Manny's youthfulness will lead him to victory in one of the year's best fights.

    James Blears - Coming back from the adversity of the first knockout defeat in his glittering career, is an awesome challenge for Erik Morales, and I think he’s more than equal to it.

    For that second fight against Manny, Erik skimped and didn’t gain the stamina boost of training at the Otomi High Altitude Center. His weight loss program was also chaotic. Both of these factors have now been rectified.

    Manny is in tremendous shape and ready to go to war. So Erik must use his extra reach, height and superior boxing skills to keep his swarming rival at the end of a ramrod left jab. If Erik decides to participate in a slugfest he’ll be ko’d. If he still retains the discipline and immense concentration required to hand Manny another boxing lesson, he will be able to pull out one last incredible career defining performance. But with Manny’s power and determination it’ll be like playing Russian Roulette.

    People close to Erik suggest that he still wants to go for a world title in a fourth weight category. This just isn’t practical, and after fifteen years of dishing out thrills and spills, he should be sensible enough to retire, following what I believe will be an extraordinary turn around, with a hard fought points win over Manny.

    I also have a sneaking feeling that the cut men are going to earn their wages again. One of them if not both will end up cut, and it’ll need to be stemmed to maintain what should be a thrilling contest.

    Erik Morales by decision.

    TK Stewart - One thing about boxing fans is that they sometimes have a short memory. I'm surprised at the number of people that are writing Erik Morales off as though he were now a shot veteran. I don't see it that way at all.

    Morales won their first fight hands down in my opinion. Sure, Erik was fortunate that Manny suffered a horrible head gash from a clash of heads and that Manny was also distracted by outside of the ring goings on, but the end result is that Erik Morales won that fight and he looked decent in doing it.

    In the second fight, Erik Morales did pretty darn good for the first five or six rounds. The fight was relatively even when Morales started to get pummeled. However, I'm convinced that the real culprit in that fight was Morales' failure to train properly and get into the type of condition that he needed in order to beat Pacquiao. Morales, in his words "hit a wall". It's one thing to make the weight, it's quite another to do it the right way.

    For this third fight, it appears that Erik Morales is going to end up making weight the right way. As a result, I think he'll look good and while he's light years away from his prime he'll still put up a very good fight.

    I think Morales has the type of style that will always trouble Manny and he also has size and strength advantages. Morales said in the first fight that he didn't even really feel Pacquiao's punches and that they didn't hurt him. I'm going to go out on a limb here and go against the grain. I think Morales will turn in one last great performance on Saturday night and that he'll beat Pacquiao by decision.

    John Hively - The fight becomes tougher to call if Morales comes in heavier, but Pacquiao wins in a possibly tough fight nontheless. Of course, it's quite possible Morales has little or nothing left, in which case Pacquiao wins in five rounds or less. As I see it, the stars and my gut say it all boils down to a win for Pacquiao one way or the other.

    Pacquiao by decision or KO if Morales comes in at 130-pounds or less.

    Larry Tornambe - Manny is catching Erik at athe right time for a Pac Man victory. Morales looked heavy in all the pre fight gatherings and will lose a little zap with the required weight loss.

    The latter part of the fight will be Morales undoing as Manny pulls away to a unanimous decision victory.

    Rusty Rubin - Morales makes weight early enough to be strong for the bout. Pacquiao is old school, training non-stop with trainer Freddie Roach in his corner.

    Jim Cawkwell - The expectation upon Manny Pacquiao is high in this fight. Many believe that he will end the career of Erik Morales, simply picking up where he left off in the tenth round of their fight earlier this year. I don't agree at all. Morales is and has always been a more complete fighter than Pacquiao. Neglect of his boxing ability in favor of going to war is a choice that has made Morales a legend.

    But Mexican legends don't go out quietly.

    If Pacquiao were to win, and win in style, it would affirm that he is indeed a special fighter; however, Morales will arrive healthy and ready to dominate the fight from the first to the last round. It will go to a decision, and a hard and bloody one at that. But Morales, with the threat to his career, his legacy, so severe, it is time to produce another memorable performance.

    Ryan Songalia - Despite Pacquiao's dominance in the last fight, I don't expect this to be a complete washout like many anticipate. Morales has put in his mind that this is his last hurrah, this is going to be the last fight that he will motivate himself to perform to his optimum capacity for. As much as Morales is coming to fight, Pacquiao is going to have that much more for him on Saturday night. It's just Pacquiao's time, he's in his prime and is going to come in with all the confidence of having knocked him out the last time.

    Morales for his part doesn't seem to have suffered a shift in mentality, he doesn't see himself as any less than he did when he was champion despite having lost 3 of his last 4. This fight just reminds me of the Pryor-Arguello fights, a great featherweight on the slide making his last stand against a vicious predator.

    It will be an incredible fight, but Pacquiao's will and tenacity will overwhelm Morales in 8.

    Richard McManus - Pacquaio is still the younger, stronger man and one of the best fighters in the world. Morales has turned into a bit of a cagey vet like his predecessor Daniel Zaragoza, who only gets up for the big fights at this point in his career. Pac should have the edge, but I think Morales has one more trick left in his bag.

    Morales by Unanimous Decision

    Ron Gallegos - This will be absolutely be a war. Neither fighter has the word quit in his vocabulary. Will the relentless Pacman prevail? I hasten back to the fight he had with Juan Manuel Marquez? where he floored him three times in the first, yet Marquez was able to figure out where the right was coming from and when he solved that puzzle he literally coasted the fight to gain a draw on the cards.

    Will Morales with his never-quit heart be able to overcome the Pacquiao onslaught? Both on their own terms belong among the great fighters of our day.

    On this day, I look for the Pacman to prevail with a mid fight stoppage, probably in the 7th.

    Dan Creighton - I see Erik Morales winning by way of a split decision.

    Adam Pollack - Even if Erik Morales is in better shape this time, he's been looking shopworn and was easily handled and KO'd the last time. I see no reason why this fight is even happening.

    At best, I see Erik lasting the distance, but that just depends on how much better prepared he is, if at all, and what adjustments he makes. But, in the end I don't see Erik winning.

    Paul Gallegos - This is one of the rare bouts with national pride on the line for both fighters. Both boys are more than qualified to own the belt as well as carry their nations' colors. This could be a fight for the ages.

    I don't see either boxer taking a backward step. As of right now, Manny has the edge in speed, power, and more importantly, the mental edge. He is the only person to stop Erik Morales. Both men are extremely strong for the division and are never at a lack for obtaining a late round KO.

    When this fight was first announced, I didn't think that Erik had a chance - too many wars, too much Barrera, and the fact that his skills have slipped in his last couple of fights. But, Erik has always had the heart of a warrior on his side. There is something strange about Erik as he has always had the ability to rise to the level of competition. I don't think that he took his training as seriously as he should have in his last effort against Manny. I think that he will be well-prepared for this contest. Manny on the other hand, has always proven himself to be the consumate professional. He loves to start fast and maintain the pressure. Juan Manuel Marquez can attest to that.

    Manny has the power and the speed to keep the ever-charging Morales at bay. Manny can be very one-dimensional, but that one dimension has been very deadly. Moreso than Erik, Manny carries the entire Pacific Rim on his shoulders. The Filipino fans are fanatics when it comes to their hero. Manny really feeds off this atmosphere. Unfortunately, Manny has also become a bit of rock and roll star in the Philippines and this may have been a bit of a distraction for him. Erik has never really had the popularity of Barrera and therefore has had to live in his shadow despite the trilogy that the two men have endured. Both Erik and Manny (along with the legend Barrera) are incredibly talented fighters who have taken the division to a new level.

    I see a back and forth fight with both men fighting in a phone booth for the better part of the early rounds. Manny will score early and often. Erik will be staggered early, but will come back to take the bout into the championship rounds. Both men will suffer and endure a tremendous amount of damage. Body punching will be the telling factor in this fight. Whoever can land their left hooks during the first half of the bout will have a decided edge during the latter.

    The 12th round will be a round for an instant classic as both fighters will feel an extreme need to win the last round in order to secure the belt over his shoulder.

    I see Manny and Erik fighting to an extremely hard-fought draw.

    Alphonso Costello - So will the fearless matador with the attitude of a bull show up for his rubber match against Manny Pacquiao? Or will it be the fatigued, battle-scarred warrior that lost his last two fights in a row? These are just two of the questions that will be answered by Erik Morales this Saturday night. Manny Pacquiao is a steaming freight train with superhuman abilities, but he is not invincible. Morales is a grand champion that can’t be under estimated by Pacquiao. Given his fighting spirit and surly mentality, Morales will spill his blood and guts to the very last drop.

    Pacquiao defeats the Mexican legend by KO.

    Jacquie Richardson - This will be a war, with two fighters who are ready to fight. Morales' pride will bring him to the fight with the passion to annihilate the Pacman.

    BUT, his age, his weight issues and his history will bring aMorales that cannot withstand the youth, passion and persistence of Manny. Pac-man is more mature and more focused than ever before and I think this is Morales' last big fight.

    Pacman wins by knockout.

    Joe Harrison - The first time Morales and Pacquiao met in the ring, Manny seemed uncomfortable with Morales' aggression and counter-punching. In their rematch, Pacquiao seemed to be more focused, and Erik didn't seem physically prepared. This time around, both men should be in their best condition. However, I truly believe that Pacquiao is one of the best pound-for-pound boxers today. He showed his true form in the 2nd fight with Morales. Even if Morales is at his best, I think Pacquiao will be too much for him.

    I see Pacquiao winning by unanimous decision.

    Mike Casey - I think Erik Morales is undoubtedly one of the all-time great fighters. At his best, he possessed the rare quality of being able to switch his game plan and re-shape his style - often in mid-fight - to solve the problem of a difficult opponent. But Erik's naturally 'macho' tendencies got him into punishing wars that he didn't need to be in, which have now caught up with him. I feel we have seen the best of him and I don't believe that he has enough left to hold off a whirlwind fighter like Manny Pacquiao in their rubber match. Morales was very disappointing in their last fight and seemingly unable to work his old magic of finding a solution. But for me, it was the previous, shock defeat to Zahir Raheem that rang the alarm bells. Nothing would delight me more than to be wrong about this one, but I have to go with Manny.

    Pacquiao by TKO in the sixth or seventh round.

    Mike Indri - This fight should be another tremendously exciting battle....while it lasts! Morales will do all he can, for as long as he can, eventually succumbing to Pacquiao's non-stop, tenacious attack.

    Pacquiao over Morales via a 9th round TKO.

    Dave Wilcox - I think the rubber match between these two warriors will be more of the same from the second bout. At this point in Morales' career, he's been involved in too many tough bouts that had to of taken their toll on him. At his age,the fact that he has to drop so much weight to make the limit scares me. I think Pacquiao will be too quick and too powerful.

    I look for a knockout in 8 or 9 rounds by Pacquiao.

    Carlos Irusta - Pacquiao looks like a fighter that suffered minor damage in his career. On the other hand, Morales, a tremendous boxer, has been involved in some many wars that retirement must be on his mind.

    Pacquiao by decision.

    Ernest Gabion - Morales will be at a point where it's not possibly for him to be more ready for a fight. He trained long for this and knows this is a make or break fight.

    Pacquiao by TKO in 11, in a better than expected war.

    Kevin Kincade - Saturday night will witness Erik Morales’ last great effort. His tremendous pride has forced him to alter his training habits so as to get his body properly adjusted to make weight and give himself the best chance of victory.

    However, history teaches us that every man has his limits and a fighter can only be in so many all-out wars before it catches up to him. I believe that time has come for Erik Morales; but I do believe he’s going to put together one last great heroic effort this weekend.

    Unfortunately for him, it won’t be enough.

    Manny’s riding momentum and looked much more versatile in his last fight with Morales and it wasn’t just Erik suffering from weight-drain. I think Erik will take a more tactical approach to the rubber-match, like he did in the initial encounter, and I believe he will be stronger this time than in the last match; but he won’t be able to stave off Pacquiao’s assault for all 12 rounds and dictate the pace. This will be a hard fought battle of wills and technique and, in the end, Manny will have his hands raised by way of unanimous decision.

    Pacquiao by unanimous decision.

    Sammy Rozenberg - Erik Morales by TKO after the fight is stopped because Pacquiao suffers a serious cut during the action.

    “JC” Jerry Casarez - I refuse to buy into the whole Erik Morales will get destroyed by Manny Pacquiao theory. Nobody has ever walked through El Terrible. Even a victorious Pacquiao in their second fight would tell you that it was no walk in the park. Experts are so quick to forget that for the first 4 rounds the fight resembled their first encounter with Morales boxing well and brawling in spots. The problem in that fight was conditioning. You can say that the fight was lost in the gym.

    When a fighter turns a training camp into an episode of the Celebrity fit club you know he’s in trouble. Well that won’t be the case this time around with Top Rank going out and enlisting the services of Velocity which is a conditioning team from West Los Angeles, CA. The additional four weeks that Morales spent with them before heading to his normal training camp will pay dividends as is apparent by his pre fight weigh-in that was mandated by the WBC to insure both fighters make the 130lbs limit.

    Look for Morales to establish his jab early to set a pace he will maintain but not without resistance from the Pacman. Manny will come out and test Morales early and often to see how much the former 3 division champion has left.

    I believe this fight will go the distance with El Terrible pulling out a hard earned but most gratifying win. Erik asked the public to believe in him one more time when this fight was announced. While most the media has chose to remember the Morales that was defeated by TKO last January, I will remember the Zona Norte warrior and believe in him one more time.

    Jose Aguirre - Manny Pacquiao will stop Erik Morales within 8 rounds.

    Rick Reeno - Until Erik Morales ran out of gas in rematch, it was a very competitive fight. Morales is without question the hungrier fighter, but one has to wonder if all the talk about him being a shot fighter has warped his focus for Pacquiao.

    In most cases, when a fighter is stopped for the first time in his career, especially late in his career, he is never the same fighter. After the way Pacquiao knocked out Morales earlier this year, I just can't picture him being able to fully recover. He is showing bigger stones than Marco Antonio Barrera by jumping right back in the ring with Pacquiao, something Barrera has been unable to do for three years.

    It would have probably been the smarter thing to do if Morales had one or two easier bouts prior to a third meeting with Pacquiao, but the warrior's heart of Morales could not make him take an easier fight.

    I think Morales will do much better in this fight, but I see Pacquiao pulling out a close decision in what should be a better fight than their previous two meetings.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I think Morales won two out of three vs Barrera, the first and the second.

    I thought his first fight against Paq was amazing, maybe his biggest win. However, all the signs are there that he is losing it...he has taken a ton of punishment. He has looked weak in his last few fights. I just don't know...


    Anything can happen in boxing. We all know that despite how talented Paq is, the right style neutralizes him...he has wholes in his armor...if Morales can stand there with him anymore is to be seen. The logical pick is Paq but who the hell know but Old Gor ?

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    The Pac-man wins by KO late in the fight.

    Frank B.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Morales, Pacquiao make weight!
    By Victor Perea
    Both Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao weighed in at 129.5 at today's "Grand Finale" weigh-in in Las Vegas. (More to come...)


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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions



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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I have a feeling that Morales is done. Too many wars. Manny by 8th round KO.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I am pulling for Morales. I think he has one last great fight left in him, and this is it. Morales by decision.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Destiny and the Legend of Erik Morales
    By Patrick Kehoe from Sweet Science

    “No one has ever booed me out of a ring and no one ever will. As far as I am concerned there is going to be a fight. We are there to fight.”

    Classic boxing careers are defined by evolution and entropy. A budding brilliance for combat decides personal signatures of fate, wearing down doubt, culminating in the destruction of valiant and passionate foes. Erik Morales, born above a boxing gym, began his journey as a prizefighter, forging his ultimate individuality as a champion, by developing the artistry of a boxer imbued with the raw determination of a slugger. Besting Mexican legend Daniel Zaragoza in 1997 and then obliterating the feared Junior Jones inside of four rounds a year later, the young gun Morales displayed the leveraging prowess of Carlos Zarate born up upon the robust willfulness of Ruben Olivares. Catapulting past hard rock Wayne McCullough he faced up to a showdown with Marco Antonio Barrera, the parallel light of Mexican boxing, barely more than a month and a half into the new millennium.

    In Morales’ epic first contest against fellow phenom Barrera, the boxer bled and the punisher thrashed out at a fellow champion, until the marks of their respective greatness were there for all to see and celebrate. Refusing to be denied victory, Morales showed that his ultimate weapon was his will to push himself to the limits of tolerance. The native son from Tijuana went on to cultivate a pure form of precision power boxing, able to finish off opponents with decisive flurries, the lancing jab giving instantaneous access to a withering right hand. And it was Morales’ sheer hunger – the ability to inject and sustain tactical malice and heart – that drove the fans near to delirium when ever he disrobed to punch it out for pay.

    Champions reign, regale and then fade, sometimes in one night, one torrid night. The prime of Erik Morales began almost a decade ago and that’s twice the normal life span of a champion, even an exceptional one. A simple bow deep in the embrace of his corner, a faint kiss of his right glove before it reaches toward heaven; thusly, Morales acknowledges the cheers of the crowds who adore his fighting spirit, his professional dignity and the manner of a common man blessed with industrious excellence. Intense and committed always, Morales boxes feet angling in, around or out, a simple skip backward, spine rigidly erect, then the flashing of jab melds into a spearing right hand, then folding inside a left hook searches out the pulp of opposing flesh, in that instant Morales is outside again skipping back in, and out of no where an uppercut erupts against a quivering jaw. For those who have seen Morales fight this past decade he’s as recognizable in a boxing ring as Roy Jones, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins or Lennox Lewis. You always have the feeling when Morales fights, it’s a title fight because he’s a champion with or without belts, having paid or spurned paying sanctioning fees. If you can, search out the fourth round of Morales battling the great Manny Pacquiao the first time and you will see in miniature the meaning and measure of the man; Morales in motion there needs no knockout signatures, no absolute ending.

    But is Morales now to be viewed only in retrospect? Is there now no future left to Erik Morales, just thirty, but by general accounting a ravaged thirty? The rumors of sparring struggles float about while images of a hyper ecstatic Pacquiao training under the watchful eye of Freddie Roach, proprietor of the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, makes for acidic speculation. Pacquiao’s thousand dollar Nike designer ring foot wear is not expected to dim Morales’ ardor. But the sheer pulsating energy Pacquiao exhibits forms a gulf separating the two champions or so it would appear. Trainer Roach tries to keep his observations as politically correct as he can – insulting Morales with rhetorical whimsy – nevertheless making Morales a long shot to last the entire scheduled 12 rounds.

    That kind of disrespect wrapped up as matter of fact confidence in his charge is precisely the kind of flash point that has, in the past, tended to irritate Erik Morales. For as much as any fighter of his generation the Tijuana born Morales expects professional respect from those who make their living within the boxing establishment. His customary training at the secluded training facility in the Otomi Mountains, 50 minutes from Toluca, Mexico, again proved an assuaging, sobering experience for Morales. The cold autumnal air helped cleanse Morales’ fighting spirit, things falling into familiar ordering, winning ways remembered, his small band dedicated to making a renewal of committed discipline toward one objective: victory. Victory now spells out redemption yet again for Morales. The mood in the camp was as meditative as the Pacquiao training routine was frantic. With his father Jose back in camp to oversee training, Morales steadily brought his 20 weeks of training to a cutting edged finality.

    What time had seemingly deducted from the arsenal of Morales, long training sessions with Velocity Sports Performance was calculated to reimburse. The admission by Morales earlier this week that, “I have never lost weight correctly… and weight has always been a major problem for me, losing weight and retaining my strength has been a problem.” So the periodization for training has meant balancing the strengthening of stabilizing muscle groups and developing explosiveness in his legs and upper shoulder, both enhanced by overall stamina. And range of motion translating into strength over time is really what Morales has been lacking in his ring performances for about two years. Has Morales found the detailing and discipline to remake his body for this critical rubber match against the dynamic Pacquiao? Therein lays the mystery and ultimately the destiny of Erik Morales, the fighter.

    “There is not much to change,” Morales explains, “it about being able to go 12 rounds, 12 tough rounds and bringing all of your technique and experience and power… I feel no pressure. I’ve done it before. The main thing is to be prepared to fight and I have done all the work… knowing your opponent… it happens in training…. I have prepared perfectly… I like to think I am ready to win.”

    No one, it seems, is asking if Pacquiao overtrained, for he’s in his prime years as an athlete. The issue of Pacquiao having signed with Golden Boy Promotions for an extended contract, leaving his current promotional house and vender of this rubber match, Top Rank, doesn’t leave the same lingering stains as his divorce from Murad Muhammad, in the run-up to Morales-Pacquiao I. In such regard is Manny Pacquiao held. Science, the science of the human body in elite level athletic competition, has been invoked by Team Morales and Top Rank to steel their man Morales. But the ides of March have swarmed near, in November; an inexorable decay has gripped Morales and – so it is being whispered – only the boxing legend, the mythic past of Morales is left. Erik Morales, the king of the ring, is no more; he belongs enshrined in the warring glory of his own marvelous past: yesterday’s man. Common report can cut to the bone.

    All those days in the Otomi Mountains hitting, reacting, concentrating, Morales knew what was being said about him, paranoia could hardly have amplified the doubts any more clearly.

    Pacquiao has his admirers at a fever pitch, his celebrity casting him in movies, chanting till he sings them love songs. Everyone wants him, demands he be theirs. He sees only stars of his reflection. As if to rebel, he takes refuge in the ring to be alone, readying himself to set alight Erik Morales and then Marco Antonio Barrera. The world is his for the taking, Morales’ for the breaking?

    The man in the bandana effuses combinations, a blurring application of energy emanating, a body transforming itself for warring literally burning itself alive.

    Showing mostly diffidence, the legend from Mexico gathers his momentum, transmissions clearing signal pathways. Morales’ body appears to be awakening, quickening, still drawing upon itself, coiling, the transition to flight and fight aligning to the exact mark, Pacquiao’s certitude, poised to release the anvil of dynamism.

    For Morales, it must be his last great night. He’s Erik Morales, the legend.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Manny Pacquiao's Journey from Good to Great
    By Matthew Aguilar from Sweet Science

    We knew Manny Pacquiao was good. But none of us thought he was that good.

    It was Nov. 15, 2003, and Pacquiao was challenging the recognized featherweight champion of the world, Marco Antonio Barrera, in San Antonio. Barrera, regarded as one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world at the time, had just defeated archrival Erik Morales. And he was at the height of his career.

    Most everyone figured Pacquiao would give the Mexico City-born Barrera a good fight. But virtually no one outside of the Philippines thought he could beat him

    But beat him he did. After suffering a flash knockdown in the first round, "Pac-Man" demolished Barrera in convincing fashion. The look in Barrera's eyes was one that boxing fans had never seen before. It was an expression of shock and surprise.

    As if to say, "Can this guy really be punching me this hard?"

    It was similar to the look that Pipino Cuevas wore when he tasted the first couple of right hands from Thomas Hearns in 1980.

    Part confusion, part fear.

    Like Hearns against Cuevas, Pacquiao was not just hitting Barrera hard. He was hitting him fast. And doing it in short, powerful bursts, from a southpaw stance. By round three, it was obvious that Barrera had no chance at all, outside of a lucky punch. But he wasn't even mounting an offensive.

    Because he was too busy fielding bombs.

    When the end finally came in the 11th round, and Pacquiao's hands were raised in victory, it was almost a relief to those watching at ringside and on international television. It had become a mugging. Pac-Man had won almost every round, battering his opponent at every turn. And Barrera was thoroughly defeated.

    We knew Manny Pacquiao was good. But not that good.

    The victory elevated Pacquiao to god-like status in the Philippines. In America, he has become appreciated, and has steadily climbed up the pound-for-pound rankings.

    If he's not regarded as the second-best fighter on the planet right behind Floyd Mayweather, then he should be.

    Those of us who may have forgotten how scary-good he was against Barrera back in '03, were reminded in January. When he destroyed yet another Mexican legend, Morales.

    In a lot of ways, the rematch between Pacquiao and Morales mirrored the massacre of Pacquiao-Barrera. Never had Morales been thrashed so decisively. Sure, it was a little more competitive early on, when Morales had his legs. But everyone watching got the sense that Pacquiao would go on to win decisively. There was no cut to contend with, which may have led to Pacquiao's loss to Morales in the original fight, March 19, 2005. There were no distractions.

    Pacquiao was prepared. And he seemed bigger, faster and stronger from the opening clang.

    The fight began to turn as Morales's legs turned to spaghetti. Suddenly, "El Terrible" had no answer for the raging storm in front of him. And it soon became target practice for Pac-Man. The fight was mercifully stopped in the 10th round.

    We knew Manny Pacquiao was good. But not that good.

    In less than three years, Pacquiao has destroyed two of the best Mexican fighters in history. That Morales is getting another chance today doesn't bode well for him. He'd need a time machine to hold off Pac-Man.

    And when he's done with Morales, Pacquiao will look toward Barrera again. And though Barrera, too, is one of the best fighters in the world, there is little reason to believe that he can beat Pacquiao. Distractions or not, the first fight was a massacre.

    And once Barrera is out of the way, Pacquiao may go looking for Juan Manuel Marquez, just to lay the questions about their 2004 draw to rest. And, if he does that, he will have beaten the ferocious trio of Morales, Barrera and Marquez in a career that will have exceeded expectations.

    We knew Manny Pacquiao was good. And now we know he is probably great.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    MaxBoxing’s Head to Head – Manny Pacquiao vs Erik Morales
    By Angel Rodriguez & Jason Probst

    JASON PROBST: Old dogs don't learn new tricks, especially not Mexican fighting dogs, Angel. Erik Morales has one shot, from the looks of it, against Manny Pacquiao. And that's to come out early and hard and let the leather fly in the hopes that he can make something happen.

    I say that because after watching both fights a couple times recently, it's obvious that when Morales comes forward and gets off first he can be really effective, while Manny loses much of his mojo moving back and covering up. Let Pac Man come at you, and he outpunches, outworks, and out-everythings you. Certainly for Morales things probably aren't gonna change after their brutal second match, where he simply couldn't hang with the younger, more vigorous man. That equation isn't likely to change unless Morales comes to the realization that he may have to put everything he has into starting fast and risking a savage firefight to make something happen.

    Blood, a knockdown, or a big round can be life to an aging fighter. If Morales doesn't create something of interest early to suggest he's got the seeds for an upset planted, I'm not sure there's any other way he can win. Because Pacquiao gave him an awful pounding last time and figures to do everything this time around -- maybe worse. So why not jump on him and back the little terror up? Morales has nothing to lose.

    ANGEL RODRIGUEZ : There is no dog in Morales and tricks are for kids. I think that the biggest problems that Erik Morales has been facing are the ones that haunted his icon, Julio Cesar Chavez, late into J.C. Superstar’s career - weight problems as well as not respecting his opponent and the game enough. Morales blew up too much in weight before his rematch with Manny Pacquiao to reasonably make weight AND be fresh for the fight. Chavez did it with Willy Wise and David Kamau late in his career and they both gave Julio the business for half stepping on them and the hardest sport.

    Whoever starts fastest is not of prime importance in this fight, just as it wasn’t in their first two fights. Morales started fast in the rematch then faded in the end for the KO loss, yet started and finished fast in their first fight. The first real key to success for “El Terrible” as I see it is whether or not he killed himself to make weight or did he put in the work, discipline, and sacrifice needed to preserve one’s mojo?

    The second key to success is whether or not the battle-scarred warrior has that famed “one last great fight left in him.” While Erik does have more mileage on him than a Tijuana taxi cab bringing in Californians for Cinco de Mayo weekend, he also has an ego that is as wide as the Rio Grande river. “El Terrible” refuses to go out looking and feeling like the bald old man that Benny Hill ritually slapped up and ran out of the big room.

    O contraire mon’ frer, Morales doesn’t have to blitz the Filipino to get his attention. Excellent ring generalship and footwork powered by a steady stream of piston jabs followed up with needle straight right hands down the pipe could cause “Pac-Man” to eat one-twos like yellow dots.

    PROBST: Well, I got to go ahead and disagree there, El Rodriguez. That's because it's apparent the writing is on the wall after the rematch. Morales' string of taxing brawls and crowd-pleasing style has finally caught up to him. It was apparent -- weight problems not helping a bit, mind you -- that he just didn't have the same gas tank and ability to fight at an intense level with Pac Man on him. Pacquiao pretty much took over the fight after
    Morales' last stand in the seventh, where you could see the life seep out of him after he threw one final glorious bolt and Pacquiao just kept coming.

    Freddie Roach deserves a lot of the credit for Pacquiao's performance. He really seems to have transformed Manny from a left-cross-dependent bomber into a virtuoso whirlwind. Pac Man used the right hook to good effect, and punished the body so brutally that Morales was bent over a couple times. I've always believed that a good body beating can drain a fighter as much as a hail of chin shots over the long haul and kill the legs even with recovery time, and that pounding will come into play Saturday when Pacquiao digs to the belly early.

    It's not going to get easier for Morales unless he digs in and takes it all out in the opening couple rounds. What's he going to do if he plays it the same way he did the first two times, depending on reduced skills, reflexes and ammunition? What will happen when he throws his best shots and Pac Man just keeps bobbing, countering, and firing back after taking the big punches and not backing up? Because that's what going to happen if Morales tries to win this over the distance and doesn't go for broke early. He doesn't have the ammunition anymore, it seems. Of course, he could indeed have one great fight in him. But against a great fighter like Pacquiao that rarely happens. Morales has been one of the game's best for nearly a decade and this is going to be one hell of a beating, because he's also one of the game's proudest.

    RODRIGUEZ : If Erik has truly aged, and as old as he looked in his last two fights (Zahir Raheem and Pacquiao), then Ruben Olivares has a better chance of beating Manny tonight than Morales does. Let’s be clear, to pull of the win “El Terrible” will have to summon the kind of resurrection that is usually reserved for Clint Eastwood’s gritty gringo gunslinger of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western fame.

    Heart won’t be enough to pull off the victory either. Morales will have had to have honestly committed himself to the Velocity training regimen that his promoter, Bob Arum, secured for him to be fresh on fight night. I have never heard of this personal fitness company before but if they are as good as has been advertised by Arum and Co., then Morales will have used the entire training camp to work on his stamina and strategy for the first time in a long time.

    Yet and still, I don’t like the way that Morales was packing middleweight bulk during the pre-fight press conferences a few months ago, knowing that he is getting ready for a do-or-die fight tonight. The indifference to sacrificing at this stage of his career once again reminds me of J.C. Chavez’s arrogance. It’s as if this pair of warriors make an excuse for why they lost this fight in their minds to provide psychological comfort for themselves instead of breaking down the deficiencies that had them doing the cabbage patch on all fours in their last fights.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Carbajal can relate to boxing trilogy
    Norm Frauenheim
    The Arizona Republic

    Some fights never really end. They just turn into trilogies. The latest in a battered history of boxing's version of the triple threat will play out Saturday night when Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales meet again at Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center.

    Their third fight is loaded with enough emotion to fill a few World Cups.

    There's Pacquiao, who has captivated fellow Filipinos so much that there are reports of a decrease in the crime rate throughout his island nation during his televised bouts. There is hawk-like Morales, whose battered, yet fierce pride is unmistakably attached to the Mexican tri-color of his home nation.
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    It's a volatile mix that sounds familiar to Michael Carbajal, the Hall of Famer from Phoenix whose trilogy with Mexican junior-flyweight Humberto Gonzalez was ranked this week as the 10th best in history by ESPN.com.

    "By the time you get to the third fight, you just have all this respect for the other guy," said Carbajal, who knocked out Gonzales in the 1993 Fight of the Year in Las Vegas and lost narrow decisions in 1994, first in Los Angeles and then on the bloodied floor of an old Mexico City bullring.

    In the third bout, Carbajal, the American, became a target for Mexicans unhappy at immigrant issues that continue to this day. But it didn't matter at opening bell, at least not to the fighters, who had fists instead of flags. Mexican and Filipino flag-waving won't matter much after the first punch lands in Pacquiao-Morales, either.

    Tactics and style surprised Carbajal in his two rematches, both debatable losses. Gonzalez, who was known for a knockout punch, stayed away from the proven power possessed by Carbajal, who was considered the better boxer.

    "I just never expected that, especially in Mexico City," said Carbajal, who thought Mexican fans would demand a go-for-broke battle.

    In a finale to any trilogy, it's as important to be as careful about expectations as it is the unseen punch, says Carbajal, who has a hard time picking a Morales-Pacquiao winner.

    "I'm pulling for Morales, but it's going to be tough," said Carbajal, who was similar to Morales in his demeanor, pride and resilience, especially when hurt. "It just depends on whether Erik has trouble with his weight. He struggled with it last time. That's why he lost.

    "But if there's no trouble with the weight, he can win. His style, I think, can give Pacquiao real trouble."

    Morales, who won a decision in the first fight, has been on a high-tech program - Velocity Training - in a slow, yet steady process to make the 130-pound limit.

    The spin, perhaps predictable, is that Morales trained to make weight while the favored Pacquiao trained to fight. Take your pick, but the best one is probably the unforeseen twist that has always surprised a Carbajal, a Gonzalez and anybody else who has ever fought through a trilogy.

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I have always enjoyed watching Morales, he has certainly given us all some great memories over the years, but I think he has just been in too many hard fights to handle a fire-plug like Pacquiao at this stage in his career as Pacquiao is just really peaking. Maybe Morales can dig down deep for yet another great performance, but I don't expect it...what I do expect to see is Pacquiao beat-up Morales pretty much like he did in they're last fight only it will probably be worse this time around...unless Morales can get to Pacquiao early!

    Manny Pacquiao W KO 7


    I'm interested in the undercard fight between Mike Arnaoutis and Ricardo Torres. For the first few rounds of his bout with Cotto, Ricardo Torres looked as though he was going to score the upset, but Cotto dug-down pretty deep and pulled it out. Arnaoutis has looked really good in his bouts on ShoBox, but I don't think he can get by the power of Torres as Torres is certainly a big-league puncher! Arnaoutis has three straight first round knockout wins and six first-rounders overall and Torres is coming off of a pretty good performance against one of the P4P fighters and also a pretty good win in his last bout and Torres has eleven career first round knockouts...22 KO's have came in 3 rounds, or less, so this should be a screamer for ever how long it lasts!

    Ricardo Torres W KO 3

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    Re: Pac-Morales III Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I watched both PAc/Morales fights this morning ,and must say that Morales did exceptionally well in both. He won the 1st fight and was doing well in the 2nd , that is until his conditioning,arrogance and bad dieting finally caught up with him.It was towards the the mid part of the 5th when I noticed that he was starting to fade , and it wasn't like Pac was beating on him yet , he just got tired. Morales will definately come in better prepared and take a decision, he'll neutralize Pac as he did before and get the win.
    Last edited by evander; 11-18-2006 at 05:16 PM.

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