This Saturday night, Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao attempt to move one step closer to a rematch as they face Zahir Raheem and Hector Velazquez,
respectively, on an HBO-televised doubleheader.
This rematch, which is desired by many fans after the epic battle the two 130-pounders waged in March, could be one of the most anticipated fights of early-2006.
But while MaxBoxing managing editor Thomas Gerbasi thinks a rematch is a natural, columnist and former contender Brian Adams disagrees. Why?
Adams: Please explain to me why there is talk of Morales and Pacquiao meeting again.
I recall Morales handily beating the lighter Pacquiao. I know Manny looked sensational against Marco Antonio Barrera, but Ken Norton looked great against Muhammad Ali, but less than average against the young George Foreman. The point is, styles make fights, and Pacquiao has the perfect style to beat Barrera and the right style to get dominated by Morales every day of the week.
Gerbasi: Well, I hate to start this off by agreeing with you, but you're right: Styles do make fights, and the styles of Morales and Pacquiao will
make for a great fight every time.
It's just a fact of nature, and if promoters wanted to put them up against each other every three months for the next three years, I would pay for it. But your next point is where we disagree -- Pac-Man got dominated by Morales? Three scorecards of 115-113 "dominated?" Plus, I seem to remember Morales getting rocked more than a few
times by Pacquiao and the Filipino fighter's speed will always give anyone fits. And we have to always remember that Morales' tendency to throw the gameplan out the window and brawl will make practically any fight a competitive one. Can either fighter dominate the other? Not likely.
Adams: Every day, I hear so-called experts claim that boxers have to be more willing to fight one another for the sake of the fans and the sport. But does it mean that a smaller guy has to risk his health to please these entities just because they want to see the fight happen? And by God, does it mean that the fight must happen twice, even after the smaller guy did not come close to winning the first fight?
Don't get me wrong, I like Manny and I, too, thought he would be competitive, but it just didn't happen. So what makes them think that people would want to see it again? Because there was an issue with what HBO's Jim Lampley called pillows (The "Winning" brand of gloves worn by both fighters)?
Gerbasi: Did we watch the same fight? A score of 115-113 is far from being dominated. Anyway, I won't beat a dead horse and I'll continue. Last I looked,
Pacquiao was not being dragged to the ring kicking and screaming. And if I recall, Pacquiao not only thought he won the first fight, but he wanted the rematch as well. And come on, Brian, when was the last time any professional athlete did anything because writers or fans demanded it? Sure, that makes for nice copy when you say "I did it for the fans," but that's all crap. You did it because that was the business move that made sense. And for Pacquiao and Morales -- two fighters with huge followings -- a rematch makes not only financial sense, but common sense. I'll get to the gloves shortly.
Adams: You can complain all you want about the gloves being too big, but did it ever dawn on them that had the smaller puncher's glove been chosen,
Morales very well could have scored a knockout or seriously injured Pacquiao? In boxing, the fans are the ones that get fooled day in and day out, because there always seems to be an excuse surrounding a loss to promote a rematch. How do you expect the public to embrace the sport the way it needs to be embraced if we keep feeding them unnecessary rematches?
Hell, why not do the rematch with Greg Haugen and Pernell Whitaker; wasn't that a one-sided beating too? And I'm tired of hearing the "experts" claim that it's the fight that the public wants. Are they out doing surveys? No it's the fight that they want to see.
Gerbasi: Adams, Adams, Adams. Just like Morales, I'm just getting warmed up. Did it ever dawn on you that if I was a foot taller, I could be in the NBA? I tend to dismiss the glove issue myself, but I think there is a valid point to be made about how Pac-Man was hit with a number of distracting situations before the fight. His recurring promotional issues, the circus-like atmosphere in his training camp and the glove issue.
All have been resolved now, and I'm curious to see if a different Pacquiao will show up for the rematch. So there is some question as to the effect such distractions had on him in March. You should know better than I do that a fighter who is dealing with a lot of out-of-the-ring issues might not be able to focus properly come fight night. And as far as the gloves go, yes, Pacquiao could have gotten hurt or knocked out if Morales was wearing Reyes gloves. But if they were worn, does Morales survive the 12th round, when he switched into a southpaw stance and got rocked numerous times by Pacquiao?
And if you want to talk about the fights the fans want to see, if not Morales-Pacquiao II, what do you think the ideal options are for both men?
For Pac-Man it's Pacquiao-Barrera II or Pacquiao-Marquez II. For Morales, it's Morales-Barrera IV or Morales-Chavez II. Wow, what a concept -- all
Adams: You can say what you want, but there are matchups that can be made. All the critics like to say is that there is not enough money in certain matchups. But if a boxer says the same thing, then he is hurting the sport, or he is afraid. Let's look at Sugar Shane Mosley and Vernon Forrest. Shane chose to take on Vernon, even after everyone claimed that there was no money and the matchup would be bad for the sport at that time. Correct me if I'm wrong here, wasn't their first encounter at Madison Square Garden good for boxing? Point is: No one knows how good or bad a matchup is until it happens. The public might not know about certain guys because they do not
get the the proper coverage.
Gerbasi: I seem to recall Mosley getting a heck of a lot of respect from the fans and media for facing Forrest. Who would think that fight was bad for boxing? And at that point, Mosley could have been fighting me and people would have tuned in that's how hot Shane was at the time. Of course, with hindsight being 20-20, even though the result was stunning and spectacular, take away the first two rounds of Forrest-Mosley I, and it's just an average fight, where you waited and waited for Mosley to make a run
that never came, and Forrest fighting the smart, disciplined fight he needed to win. It was no Morales-Pacquiao, but we saw a rematch
there. Was that necessary? A lot of people thought Shane was a fool for taking the immediate rematch because he was dominated in the first fight.
Were you one of them? That fight was a lot more lopsided than Morales-Pacquiao.
Adams: But there's all this talk about a rematch and Morales still has to get past my friend Zahir Raheem, who I believe is slick, quick, and smart enough to beat him. If Morales does get past Zahir, I say that he should move on to new and different challenges in his weight class or another if he has weight problems. The sport will always flourish with new flavors and names. I just find it funny how a boxer can call out the same guy over and over again and they question him as to why. But the promoters and networks can do the same thing and the public buys it. That's a classic case of double jeopardy if I've ever seen one.
Gerbasi: Well, all this debating will be for naught if Raheem pulls off the upset Saturday. Then again, he's not being brought in to win, and neither is Pacquiao's opponent, Hector Velazquez. I know, this is boxing, and anything can happen, but I don't think your buddy has the firepower to keep Morales off of him for 12 rounds. Anyway, let me look down the junior lightweight rankings to see what fights I would want to see Morales in: A Jesus Chavez rematch would be nice, but Jesus has already jumped up to lightweight to challenge Leavander Johnson; Morales against Jorge Barrios would be a war, but there's no money there and the odds of a Top Rank-Golden Boy
Promotions alliance for that fight are slim; and I'd love to see Morales fight the new WBA champ Vicente Mosquera, but again, there's no money there
and we're talking about a Top Rank-Don King Productions promotion.
So what does that leave me? Morales-Barrera IV and Morales-Pacquaio II. Adams, I know you're all about the welfare of the fighter and all that warm and toasty stuff, but
let's face it, real fighters fight real fights, and they do it against the best possible opposition. Pacquiao and Barrera are the best possible fights for Erik Morales, and the fact that "El Terrible" is willing to go through these bouts again is a testament to his heart, skill and confidence in his ability. You don't want those fights, don't buy them. But I will, and so will a couple hundred thousand boxing fans who love to see the sport at its highest level, and that's what Morales and Pacquiao bring to the table.