Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | November 18, 2006

Moment of truth

I’m posting here an article that I wrote for the Inquirer. This is not the edited version just yet because the final copy hasn’t been uploaded on our site yet. At least, you’ll see the rough draft.

On the papers, tomorrow, you’ll see the edited copy, which could be slightly different from this one as I was just informed that Page One is handling the story.

Anyhow, here goes…

By Francis Ochoa


LAS VEGAS—They’ve each had their victories in this compelling super featherweight rivalry which has now reached its final chapter. They’ve had their share of bright moments in this desert oasis, enough to rival the multicolored glow that lights up the evening sky here.

            And yet, everything still boils down to this.

            “Suntukan na (It’s time to fight),” said Manny Pacquiao Friday night, on the eve of his grudge match against Mexican Erik Morales at the Thomas and Mack Center inside the University of Nevada-Las Vegas campus. “
Para magkaalaman kung totoo ang mga sinasabi niya (So we’ll find out if what he’s been saying is true).”

            “This is it,” he added. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

            For a boxing world that the two warriors had spoiled with a pair of gritty, heart-pounding matches crammed with action from start to finish each time, the rivalry will be defined by the outcome of this match, which had been fought outside the ring as much as it will be inside of it.

            “This will show who really the best is,” Morales had told boxing website writers earlier.

            Both fighters paved the way for a hitch-free fight, making the weight at 129 pounds. But Morales’ 129 was different from Pacquiao’s judging by the effort he put to make sure he met the weight and the by applause from the crowd at the Cox Concourse where the weigh-in was held after his numbers were announced.

            Morales has had to battle with weight problems at the 130-pound division because of his large frame, so much as that a stipulation was included in their fight contract calling for “El Terrible” to cough up $500,000 for every pound he would be overweight with.

            He kept his money in his pocket, though. Morales stripped to his boxers, stepped on the scales and then smiled and pointed to a throng of cheering Mexican supporters after registering a pound under the limit.

            Pacquiao also checked in at 129, but he had to eat instead of fast to make it to that weight.

            As a result, Pacquiao looked the fitter of the two, with Morales looking somewhat shaky, according to observers, giving rise to speculations that he may have been still a pound or two over the limit earlier in the day despite arriving in this
Nevada city trim and glowing.

            “He seemed very skinny but he looks okay,” said Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, who had verbal tussles with Morales and his camp in the lead-up to the fight. “He made the weight like I expected him to.”

            “He looked skinny and I don’t know if he’s still strong,” said Pacquiao. “But he’s in good shape and he looks to be 100% conditioned.”

            “What I saw out there in the weigh-in was an anorexic,” said renowned trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. Anorexia is an ailment characterized by an irrational obsession to lose weight. “I’ve seen skin and bones. And then I see the other guy in the other end who was physically fit and muscular.”

            Still, Morales poses a threat in this bout, the main event in a card dubbed Pacquiao-Morales III: The Grand Finale, which marks the third time also that both fighters will display their wares here in
Las Vegas.

            “He’s going to get stronger,” said Roach, who had been often quoted criticizing the training program Morales underwent to make sure he met the weight limit for this bout, which will guarantee both fighter $3-million purses.

            “The only way to find out [how Morales will do] will be after five rounds,” said Rafael Mendoza, the trainer of Oscar Larios, Pacquiao’s last foe before this fight. “After five rounds is usually the breaking point in a fight [against] Pacquiao.”

            Roach has predicted the fight to end in the ninth, 10th or 11th rounds and Floyd Mayweather Sr., father and trainer of super welterweight champion Floyd Jr., agreed.

            “Once a guy stops you, it does something to [you],” said Mayweather, referring to Pacquiao’s TKO victory over Morales lasty January, the first time the Mexican was ever decked in his career. “It does something to a fighter [in his] mind.”

            “Usually, the guy stops him faster the second time around,” he added. “I don’t care if it’s the ninth. I’m going to say he (Morales) is going to go before the 10th round.”

            In one of the fights in the undercard, Fil-Am Brian Viloria takes on Mexican Omar Niño Romero in a rematch, where the “Hawaiian Punch” hopes to regain his light flyweight title.

            “I came here for one reason alone and that’s to get back my belt,” Viloria said.

* * *

In the meantime, here are some links you might want to read through before, during or maybe even after the fight.

They are articles about:
All about weights;

A miffed Morales;
Looking for respect;
Roach prediction;
Seeking perfection;
What Pacquiao expects

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