by Jeremy "Fasttalker" Bjornberg
Eric Morales against Manny Pacquiao was everything that was advertised -- a war for the ages.
The fight heated up seconds into the first round and both guys were landing bombs. Morales was actually holding his hands high and crouching low to avoid body shots, a tactic that surprised Manny Pacquiao.
At the end of round one, Manny inflicted the first major damage with a barrage to the body. Morales was hurt but gamely fought back in a close round. Manny Pacquiao kept landing power shots the next few rounds but was being out boxed by the more technical Morales. An accidental head butt in round four opened up a gash over Pacquiao's eye that was a distraction the rest of the night. Eric was timing Manny and countering with his Hall of Fame right hand to take over the fight during the middle rounds. Manny started to be a little more effective in rounds eight and nine, but the 10th and 11th were all Morales. Eric battered Manny Pacquiao all over the ring and basically had the fight in the bag if it went to the cards.
Before the beginning of round 12, Eric's corner told him not to do anything stupid, but Morales has more machismo than anyone in boxing. Morales switched to southpaw so he could land his right hook, a plan that worked at the beginning but a couple of huge straight lefts had Morales on shaky feet.
As expected, Morales did not go down and stayed competitive despite losing the round. The judges all had Morales winning by 2 points in the best fight of the year.
We had picked Morales to win and it was hard to believe the odds went from +125 to +150 the day of the fight for the underdog Morales. This was a great value and Doc's recognized it immediately.
Morales had been in 50 fights and had never been an underdog -- it just gave the courageous warrior more incentive to win. This could either set up a rematch with Manny Pacquiao, or another jailhouse brawl with the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera. Both are can't miss all-time great matchups that can hopefully put boxing back on the radar of major news networks.
As great as the Manny Pacquiao vs. Eric Morales war was, it had a close competitor on the undercard. Hussein Hussein and Jorge Arce savagely battled the whole way until Arce caught him on the ropes and Hussein's corner stopped the battle. Arce had been in danger of being TKO'd since round 5 when a huge gash was opened on the side of his nose. Arce might just be the next great Mexican fighter if this fight was any indication. Arce fights at a nonstop machine gun pace and I am sure HBO will want to see more of him.
This Saturday is a comeback fight for Fernando Vargas against Raymond Joval. Joval (33-3, 15 KO) is a wily veteran who has never been stopped. Vargas(24-2, 22 KO) didn't fight at all in 2004 because of a back condition and is looking to get back in the title picture. Fernando has never been in a boring fight so I expect no different this weekend. Vargas will have a hard time outdoing the Pacquiao and Morales fight, but him and Morales fall from the same tree. The replay of Morales vs. Pacquiao will be shown on HBO along with the Vargas vs. Joval match.
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