Monday, November 20, 2006

Simply devastating

Pacquiao demolishes Morales in 3 rounds

UNLEASHING a ferocity befitting his status as one of the world’s top pound-for-pound—if not the best—boxer, Manny Pacquiao knocked Erik Morales down three times en route to a third-round knockout victory Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center here.

Fighting Morales for the third time in 20 months, Pacquiao reduced what was expected to a be a long and suspense-filled bout into just nine minutes of frenetic combat, his first combination to the last knockout punch containing power that left the Mexican contemplating retirement.

Although the last episode of their memorable trilogy didn’t last as long as their first two matches, Pacquiao, 27, ended it on a sweet note to the cheers of a highly-partisan Filipino crowd that competed for space with their Mexican counterparts at the arena. In all, the bout drew a crowd of 18,276, the second-biggest in the history of the Thomas and Mack Center.

Pacquiao, who improved his career record to 43 wins against three draws and two losses, with 23 knockouts, handed Morales his fifth defeat in 53 fights. More importantly, the loss may have ended the 30-year-old Morales’ career.

"I thought it was going to be a long fight, but it was a good fight—more action," Pacquiao said, adding that while the Filipino crowd cheered him on before the opening round, all that was on his mind was to "make a move and make it fast, in and out, in and out, use your speed."

Pacquiao was guaranteed $3 million for the match while Morales will get at least $2.75 million.
Pacquiao’s victory more than made up for Brian Viloria’s failure to regain his WBC light flyweight crown in one of the supporting bouts. Viloria knocked down Mexican Omar Nino twice but Nino retained his crown with a majority draw.

Morales, who had to lose at least 30 pounds to make the 130-pound weight limit for their super featherweight encounter, matched Pacquiao’s ferocity at the outset but was soon sent against the ropes late in the second round by a counter left hand that Pacquiao delivered while his back was against the ropes.

Probably thinking he would lose steam if the fight goes the full 12 rounds, Morales returned every shot that Pacquiao threw but failed to keep pace with the Filipino boxing star’s every move.

A right hand by Morales caused Pacquiao to wince at the start of the third, but the Filipino southpaw responded with a left to the chin, right to the body and another left to the head.

Smelling blood, Pacquiao launched a vicious two-fisted barrage that chased Morales across the ring and sent him into the ropes for a second knockdown.

Morales appeared to hurt Pacquiao with a right hand as his opponent came charging forward looking for the finish, but it would be his last stand. Another series of devastating rights and lefts had Morales in trouble again and he went down along the ropes in the same spot as the second knockdown.

The Mexican appeared to signal to his corner that he had had enough, and was counted out by referee Vic Drakulich with just three seconds remaining in the round.

"He was coming to me, and he was not able to handle me," Pacquiao said. "I felt so much stronger than him. I was prepared to fight the best of Morales."

Morales managed to sit up after the final blows but shook his head at his trainer-father, Jose, while Pacquiao celebrated another big victory over the only man to beat him since 1999.

Morales said the fight might be his last. He has lost four of his last five bouts.

"For the first time in my career, I actually felt the power of an opponent like I’ve never felt it before," said Morales, who also figured in a trilogy with fellow Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera, losing two fights.

Barrera is the reigning World Boxing Council super featherweight champion and could be Pacquiao’s next opponent. Pacquiao retained his WBC International belt with his devastating win.

"I was hurt by the power of his punches, and maybe it’s time to think about not doing this anymore. I had a great career. Maybe it is time," said Morales, although he later said he may fight again in his native Tijuana.

Morales won their first meeting in March last year, scoring a unanimous decision win over a bloodied Pacquiao. The Filipino, however, stopped Morales in the 10th round of their return bout last January.

Pacquiao, who gained 15 pounds after tipping the scales at 129 pounds last Friday, said: "I was faster and bigger than him. I could tell in the second round he was surprised by my right hook."

To typify Pacquiao’s domination of the fight, he threw 175 punches in just nine minutes, landing 54 percent, including 51 of his 71 power shots in the third round. Morales landed just 26 percent of his punches.

"He was too fast and too strong," said Morales. "I did everything in camp necessary to win this fight. I didn’t win it. It wasn’t my night."(Malaya, The National Newspaper)

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