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Articles of 2005

Morales vs. Pacquiao Fight Predictions

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The writers at The Sweet Science have their say on Saturday's war between Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao.

Morales by KO.
Mitch Abramson

Overlooked in this battle of superstars is the fact that Morales is considerably bigger than Pacquiao, who has moved up two divisions in less than two years. “Pac-Man” is inexperienced at 130 pounds, which could be a problem against a tall, strong, seasoned veteran like Morales. True, Morales gets hit and gets hit often. And he'll probably get rocked once or twice by the Filipino power puncher. But, in the end, Morales has too much experience in grueling fights. He'll rally down the stretch against a fading Pacquiao to win a split decision.
Matt Aguilar

I like Pacquiao. He really did a number on Barrera. Morales is a totally different animal altogether. Although Manny is probably the harder puncher with the faster hands, I feel he'll have some problems getting inside on Erik. Morales is a rangy fighter and he knows how to use his height and reach to its full advantage. Erik has some pop in his shots too. This may discourage Manny from the all-out aggression he will need to win this fight. Please keep in mind that once Juan Marquez survived the first few rounds and a couple of knockdowns, he was able to control Manny. I see the same scenario in this fight. Either Manny wins early or Morales will win by decision or late round KO. I think Erik will survive so he's my pick.
Jim Amato

Pacquiao has some nice wins, but he’s been down before and he’s beatable. He drew with Juan Manuel Marquez and there are those who thought Marquez could have gotten that fight. Pacquiao doesn’t quite have the same experience in the spotlight that Morales already has. And that can also play a factor. I love Morales physical advantages. But Pacquiao is determined to be as big a star as Morales. I think it’s a close fight, but I pick Morales by split decision.
Irish” Bobby Cassidy

I think Pacquiao forces the action the whole way. I think it will be a fast-paced fight with plenty of great exchanges. But to me, Morales is on a slightly different level. He's got the height and reach advantage and I certainly wouldn't discount his power. Pacquiao will walk in for as long as he can, but it will be too high a price to pay. I think Morales stops him in the 10th round.
Robert Cassidy Jr.

Regardless of who starts off stronger, the fight is bound to develop into a war. In my opinion, Morales is the better boxer of the two, but Pac has the perfect style to disrupt his rhythm and draw him into a dogfight. Many will suggest that by Morales being the bigger and arguably stronger of the two, he would benefit from such a fight. But I don't believe he possesses the necessary timing and patience it requires to offset Pac's style, in which is he able to catch you from awkward angles with both speed and power. I see Morales getting LEGITIMATELY dropped for the first time in his career (the KD in the first Barrera fight was a low blow that was a blown call by the ref), and Pac dominating down the stretch en route to a unanimous decision.
Jake Donovan

Size matters, in affairs of the heart and affairs of the fist. Morales is the naturally bigger man, with bigger fights against bigger opponents (with the exception of Barrera) on his resume. El Terrible has been in war after war, whereas Pacquiao is still relatively fresh, but the veteran weathers an early firestorm, before melting Manila Ice in round nine.
Robert Ecksel

Pacquiao's southpaw style and fast hands could be a problem for Morales, but
Morales has the reach advantage and he's been fighting at 130 pounds while 
Pacquiao is moving up. Tough fight to call, but my instincts – which are seldom right – say Morales by decision. Don't ask me why.
Rick Folstad

Pacquiao's star is on the rise, whilst Morales' career appears to be on the downward arc. Coming off a disappointing performance against Marco Antonio Barrera, though, Morales has a lot to prove. So much so, his career in the top flight may hang in the balance. Morales is the bigger man with the superior boxing skills. But how he loves to brawl! And the fans love him for it. Pacquiao is all unbridled energy and malicious intent when he steps between the ropes. And how the fans love him for that. Both men's defense is suspect at times, but perhaps Pacquiao's more so. Morales seems to forget to move his head and at times just gets hit too often. Pacquiao likes to walk straight in, often conveying the impression he believes the best defense is a good offense. It is hard for me to picture this one being anything other than a great fight: one in which I have to favor Pacquiao's edge in speed and freshness. Manny Pacquiao by Decision.
Chris Gielty

This should be nothing less than a candidate for “Fight of the Year.” Pac-Man should devour Morales in a wild shootout. Manny by TKO in 8.
Randy Gordon

Erik Morales has been through three wars with Marco Antonio Barrera, losing two. Those punches add up. Morales won't be overwhelmed by Pacquiao's swarming style, but El Terrible won't be able to match the pace. Manny Pacquiao by decision.
Tim Graham

This will be a tough, close, exciting fight. Freddie Roach and Manny have something in store for Morales which will put another “W” on Pacquiao's record. IF Manny loses, it will be by close and unpopular decision, but that could pave the way for a possible Gatti-Ward type series between Morales and Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao by decision.
Amy Green

This fight is a boxing fan's dream! The anticipated nonstop action brawl, from round one's opening bell till the end, should make for an early entry into 2005's Fight of the Year category. Pacquiao destroyed Barrera, and Barrera recently beat up Morales, so the obvious choice should be Pacquiao. But I see Morales the victor in a hard-fought, “back in the alley” style fight! In the end Morales will find (must find) a way to allow his superior boxing talents to prevail against Pacquiao's annihilating style. Juan Manuel Marquez's ability to survive, and actually get the better of the “Pac-Man” – after getting knocked down three times in round one of their classic battle (12 round draw) – is what Morales MUST have in his mind and in his game plan against the ever-dangerous Pacquiao. Morales will show his true heart, his champion’s heart. “El Terrible” will battle Manny early, and then out-box him late en route to a TKO win in the latter rounds of a fight definitely worth watching. Morales TKO 10-12th round over Pacquiao.
Mike Indri

“Comparisons,” said The Buddha, “are odious,” particularly when it comes to boxing. Still, in the absence of other quantitative data the obvious measuring stick here would appear to be Barrera, who (for our money, anyway) beat Morales three times. Pacquiao demolished him when they fought, ergo . . . Pac-Man by decision.
George Kimball

Pacquiao finally bites off more than he can chew as he fights Morales, who will likely carry a 5-8 pound weight advantage in this fight, while trying to knock off yet another top Mexican. If Morales works behind his jab and brawls only on occasion, he will win. Should he choose to get caught in a brawl with the PacMan his chances dramatically decrease. Morales has been sparring with the best of the best and looks to be taking this fight like his entire career depends on it. It just might. I think Pacquiao gets caught being overly aggressive and that Morales will land his right hand with stunning regularity and accuracy as Manny keeps his hands low. Cut up and dropped, the fight is stopped and Morales' hand is raised.
Joey Knish

This is a fight I don't have a strong feeling on either way. There are things that concern me about both of them coming off their last fights. In the case of Morales, he starts slow and has to work his way into the flow of the fight. Pacquiao is not the fighter you want to come out slow against. On the other hand, when forced to fight at what would be considered a measured tempo, Pacquiao's the least effective. Pacquiao is also vulnerable to getting dropped because of the way he attacks with reckless abandon, which is a plus for Morales due to his advantage in height and reach. Morales is desperate and really needs the fight. Pacquiao is on a high and feels like he's unbeatable. Again, I don't have a strong feeling either way. Both fighters have things in their arsenal to present the other with problems. However, since I'm forced to pick, I'll go with the fighter who I believe is more confident, Pacquiao. Most likely by decision.
Frank Lotierzo

Both can change a fight with one punch, so anything can happen. I'm going with the more technically sound guy. Morales won't cower under the Pacquiao storm. He'll find a way to time Pacquiao and land a fight-changing shot. Morales KO 6.
David Mayo

Handicapping this one is no easy feat. I'll take Morales by decision, but admit it's a mental coin toss.
Bob Mladinich

What an exciting match-up this is going to be. The big question will be whether Erik Morales can stand the heat the PacMan is going to put on him. I think he will and I think Morales has the style to upset Pacquiao. While there may be some controversy involved in the end, I pick Morales to win on a points decision.
Deon Potgieter

Manny Pacquiao has shown signs that he just may be one of the special ones, a preeminent mix of power and speed developed by following an unusual path of fighting only men who knew how to fight. No stiffs for Manny; his last 18 opponents had a compiled record of 689-65-13. Only three of those went the distance with him. Two managed draws; Medgoen Sinsurat became only the second man to defeat him, and that was five years and 16 fights ago. Eric Morales has been to war, too many times; four months ago he was savaged by the quick fists (and Pacquiao’s are quicker) of Marco Antonio Barrera for a full 36-minutes, losing a majority decision. Beatings like that take their toll. It will be a great test for Pacquiao, one he should win by unanimous decision.
Pat Putnam

Erik Morales is a slow starter, but when you have a granite chin you can afford to be. Manny Pacquiao will be the aggressor at the opening bell. While there will be no knockdowns, the first round will have the one-sidedness of Pacquiao-Marquez. However, “El Terrible” will catch his stride by round four and the two will slug it out in a match that is destined to be an early nominee for Fight of the Year. When the blood and sweat clears, Morales will be on the good side of a razor thin decision. Morales by split decision.
Aaron Tallent

Morales win via unanimous decision.
Scott Yaniga

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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