|Some things are too good to be true, and despite the pugilistic brilliance of the fight, the surrounding arguments and very public disputes between the two camps managed to taint Morales vs. Pacquiao. And Pacquiao, while undeniably courageous in finishing the fight while severely|
hampered by an eye injury, depleted his credibility by subsequently alluding to a disadvantage in using Morales’ preferred gloves. This is the second time within twelve months that Pacquiao’s disappointment yielded misguided excuses, the first being the infamous sock incident in the fallout of the draw with Juan Manuel Marquez. A hallmark of greatness is adaptation and overcoming adversity, not excusing ones inability to do so. Pacquiao’s promoter Murad Muhammad did not protest the usage of gloves that might mollify his fighter’s power and justifiably so on the momentum of Pacquiao’s recent ring history; he did not expect a layer of padding to protect Morales, and evidently, in proceeding regardless of the supposed disadvantage, nor did Pacquiao. Barely a scribe, fan or industry personality believed that Pacquiao’s mythical power would fail. I must admit, I agreed with the majority sentiment, and in doing so, we all reckoned against the will of a Mexican warrior; a mistake I do not intend to repeat.
Many more elements than a layer of protective padding factored into the demise of Manny Pacquiao at the hands of Erik Morales. Of course, Pacquiao suffered the debilitating eye injury, but the collision of heads between two irrepressible forces in two different stances is always a threat, and one that a fighter is expected to overcome. Once again, Pacquiao’s offense remained frustratingly basic throughout, and without the sensational opening salvo that sat Marquez down three times, an advantage was something Pacquiao would struggle to gain. Entirely reliant on the straight left hand, Pacquiao’s right hook was once again conspicuous by its absence. Further mystifying was Pacquiao’s ineffective inside fighting. Opportunities to trade inside with Morales appeared and yet Pacquiao spurned them, seemingly clueless on how to capitalize at close quarters.
Such dilemmas did not preoccupy Morales as he roared his way towards another of the many classic wins adorning his record in the time-honored Mexican tradition. Although he did not exhibit the textbook poise and elegance of movement demonstrated by Marquez against Pacquiao, Morales’ approach to taming the beast was nonetheless riveting to behold. In a style he later described as a pleasure to fight in, Morales, perhaps in apprehension of the power before him, seemed unnerved, overly excited and sometimes ragged but nonetheless effective. He endured the imperfect storm of Pacquiao’s offense, only to rage against the elements, overwhelming Pacquiao repeatedly as they swept around the ring as if in some blistering gale. Morales’ right hand caught the attention of many, but for me, it was his jab. Always there, an indecipherable mystery dissuading Pacquiao, and a shining monument to why the sheer intensity of any physical advance can be shunned by that simplistic weapon in all its understated and invaluable craft.
Talk of a rematch surfaced in the afterglow of Morales’s victory and the despair of Pacquiao’s legion of supporters whose expressions evoke a sense of mourning. Pacquiao is a national hero in the Philippines and his loss is indigestible to his people. Furthermore, perhaps the root of their grief lays in the obviousness of his limitation. Pacquiao achieved his success through reliance on the single, equalizing element of his left hand, and while devastating in itself, if taken out of the equation, it would appear that his offense becomes obsolete. Theoretically, variation ofpunch output or the introduction of at least the right hook is all that separates Pacquiao from a more consistent chance of victory, but it is easy to assert such advice and perhaps wholly impractical to expect it to materialize in the flesh of a fighter that spent his career excelling in the utilization of one weapon. A rematch is viable because of the entertainment value associated with it, however, I am sure that I am not alone in my contention that the scorecards reflected generosity to the Filipino; Pacquiao suffered a thorough beating at the hands of a master and a return fight would likely present a similar result.
Concerning the victor, perhaps Morales’ body knows too many of these wars, but it seems fitting that we will not have to wish him farewell just yet. Through Pacquiao’s blood, he vicariously extracts a measure of revenge over Marco Antonio Barrera, a more significant underlying reason for his post-fight jubilance. Having already unified two-thirds of the super featherweight crown, and while Barrera indulges an unimportant mandatory defense, will Morales inflict the final insult on his hated rival by leaving Barrera in his wake, snubbing a fourth confrontation to contend for world titles in yet another weight class?
While hardly a spent force in the aftermath of the second loss to Barrera, Morales’ career was undoubtedly in jeopardy. In a cruel sport in which men are broken in a single night, Morales receives a welcome as vigorous as would have been his dismissal in defeat. Instead of condemnation, we speak of him with adulation and alongside names such as Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. With yet more masterstrokes of courage to unveil, Morales will seek out the greatest challenges, and will no doubt face severe criticism and potential rejection in the future when his body can no longer sustain the fierce demands of his fighting instinct. When that day arrives, we should remember nights such as last Saturday, and our remembrance of him should be as a true champion, in victory or defeat and most worthy of the highest praise.
Jim Cawkwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org