PacMan IS the Man!

By Elissa Harrison
Updated: January 22, 2006

FLORIDA—Minutes ago, in an action packed encounter, Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao starched and ironed Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales 2:33 into the tenth round of a scheduled twelve rounder. It wasn’t pretty, perhaps not even technically sound, but boy oh boy, was it exciting to watch!

Erik Morales – Manny Pacquiao 2 was a fight many considered un redeeming, while others felt it would be a good test of how much Erik Morales had left, as well as, how many new tricks could trainer Freddie Roach teach his high profile pupil. In this writer’s humble opinion, there is tremendous redemption in this victory for Manny Pacquiao, while at the same time this fight proved -at least to yours truly- that Erik Morales is damaged goods. He is a true warrior, yes, he has the courage and the heart of a lion, no denying that either, but, after so many wars it seems as though Erik Morales has taken more than enough punishment.

The entrance might have been an indication of the outcome of the fight; Manny Pacquiao won the coin toss, which dictated who entered the ring first. Both men came out to thunderous applause and cheers from their supporters, and after listening to the rendition of three national anthems, the opening bell rang in an arena filled with electrifying energy and adulation for the respective combatants.

Round 1 – Deafening chants of MO-RA-LES at the halfway mark of the round, followed by equally loud chants of MA-NNY, MA-NNY echoed throughout the arena. Meanwhile the fighters were doing very little in the first minute of the round, a feeling out process that ended when Morales rattled Pacquiao, who retaliated to Morales’ head and body. A frantic flurry punctuated Pacquiao’s activity as the round ended.

Round 2 – Pacquiao goes right to Morales’ body, and a straight left followed by a combination to the head seems to stun Morales, who nevertheless responds with some nice shots of his own. Another straight left followed by a stiff right rattles Morales, who is held upright by the ropes. Morales tries to mount an assault at the end of the round but Manny clearly did the most damage in this stanza.

Round 3 – Erik Morales shoots the jab well while Pacquiao throws punches in bunches. Both men trade freely in the center of the ring, both scoring, and Pacquiao closes the round with a 5-punch combination just before the bell rings.

Round 4 – Pacquiao opens up the round pumping his jab, while chants of MEXICO, MEXICO seem to invigorate Morales who is very effective in this round. Pacquiao can’t come up with an answer to Morales’ assault, time runs out and the round comes to an end with Morales on the attack, Pacquiao on the retreat.

Round 5 – Morales’ crisp jab helps him set up punishing combinations, and although Pacquiao scored with nice straight lefts to Morales’ head, it was ‘El Terrible’ who proved to be the busier and more accurate of the two.

Round 6 – At 2:10 of the round Pacquiao scores with a barrage of punches, all head shots. Morales responds, and Pacquiao shoots a new weapon in his arsenal, the uppercut. Pacman has managed to rearrange Morales’ face, particularly what’s left of his eagle nose, the Filipino continues to pepper Morales with vicious power shots, and a nice combo to head and body ends the round. Morales falls backwards, in what seemed to be a sure knockdown; however, he is inadvertently held up by referee Kenny Bayless. Pacquiao threw 52 power punches and connected with 21 of them. The tide seems to be turning in favor of the pride of the Philippines.

<In between rounds, Erik Morales looks like a discouraged fighter, visibly tired, laboring to breathe, his face beginning to look like a grotesque mask.>

Round 7 – Tremendous exchanges throughout this round, with Pacquiao scoring well to Morales’ body and the punishment is beginning to take a toll. Pacquiao dictates the pace in the last minute of the round; muscling his way in he backs Morales into the ropes. Erik doesn’t seem to have his legs under him, he has lost his steam courtesy of Pacman’s relentless and accurate body attack.

<In between rounds Morales is breathing heavily, complaining to the corner about his legs, asking them to rub his legs.>

Round 8 – Morales is in the center of the ring, and Pacquiao is hitting him at will. Morales tries to mount an attack but he can’t stop the energetic Filipino warrior who continues to do serious damage to Morales’ body. Morales looks like he ran into a wall, his nose is obviously broken in more than one spot, his eyes are puffy and bruised, and overall he looks helpless. I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps Erik Morales needed his father around to protect him from himself; would his dad had stopped the fight at this point, I asked myself. What would Dr. Margaret Goodman had done here, I wondered. The round ends with Pacquiao looking fresh and revitalized, while Morales doesn’t seem to have much more left in the tank.

Round 9 – Round starts with Manny coming forward, and Erik Morales on the retreat. Pacquiao tries to engage Morales, but the Mexican warrior wants no part of it. Morales’ punches don’t seem to have any sting to them, but nevertheless Erik and Pacquiao exchange in center ring with one minute left in the round. Pacquiao is chopping down the Mexican legend with the straight left to the head and mean hooks to the body. Manny is connecting at will, Morales starts circling around the ring, trying to get away, backing up, a beaten man…

In between rounds Morales’ corner asks him how is he feeling, is he tired they asked. Morales mumbled something, but it was plain to see the end was near. It may have been prudent to summon the ringside physician at this point, but no such effort is made.

Round 10 – Manny Pacquiao bounces out of his corner, ready to go, fresh and confident. Morales comes out shooting accurate jabs, Pacquiao gets in close and punishes Morales to the body. Morales is being hammered, he has no answer to the onslaught. Pacquiao continues to pick Erik apart, but Morales is too brave for his own good. He tries to fire back but he is terribly drained. Morales goes down, helpless and visibly exhausted. He beats the count only to go down a second time, with referee Kenny Bayless stopping the bout at 2:33 of the round.

It was an incredible performance by Manny Pacquiao, who seems to fight to please his fans, his compatriots. Pacquiao looks around while waiting for the official announcement, an impish smile on his face, seemingly seeking the approval of those gathered in his corner. With this victory two-time World Champion Manny Pacquiao has proven himself the conqueror of two of Mexico’s greatest fighters, three-time world champion Marco Antonio Barrera and three-time world champion Erik Morales.

The post fight interview conducted by Larry Merchant brought out the best of Manny Pacquiao, who when asked, “Did you think you could knock out Erik Morales?” simply referred to the “body shots taking their toll,” adding, “I know (sic) he was hurt to the body every time I hit him to the body.”

When asked about his gloves, Manny replied, “I used Cleto Reyes. I like those gloves.”

What do you think is going on in the Philippines right now, asked Merchant. “Everybody is happy,” said Pacquiao. “I thank God he gave me great power. Great power is big responsibility.”

Pacquiao was gracious in victory. He ended the interview saluting all who watched the fight, the Mexican fans and all boxing fans; as I watched Manny’s signature broad smile I thought to myself it doesn’t get any better than this…