American promoter Murad Muhammad, appearing confident that Ring Magazine featherweight king Manny Pacquiao will beat Fahsan 3K Battery this Saturday and WBA/IBF champion Juan Manuel Marquez onFebruary 26, has revealed that he had "already penciled in a July date with HBO for Manny to fight Erik Morales." The Mexican Morales recently lost a close majority decision to Marco Antonio Barrera in their third bout which was described as a "fight for the ages."
Murad is already plotting the future and reportedly has a deal with HBO for a July date. Pacquiao and Morales were supposed to have battled it out this year but Bob Arum, president of Top Rank, reneged on his commitment and instead chose to pit Morales against Barrera. In Murad's reckoning, Morales may have lost to Barrera but he "didn't lose his credibility" even as many boxing experts figured the best decision would have been a draw.
Murad hinted that Pacquiao would clobber Marquez and added that "after we come out of the Morales fight we will take on Barrera if he"s ready."
If Barrera opts to avoid an early rematch with Pacquiao, Murad said they would make a mandatory defense of the featherweight title and "then meet Barrera at the end of the year."
However, Murad conceded that while this was his planned schedule "anything can happen in-between."
Another possibility mentioned is a unification fight against WBC featherweight champion Injin Chi of Korea. Murad had broached the idea at a recent dinner meeting with Chi's manager Kusung Lee and WBC founding secretary general Rudy Salud and told him "let's prepare for the future so that Injin Chi and Pacquiao can meet and both fighters can make significant money." Murad conceded that "right now Injin Chi is not in the cards but because he's the champion and he's winning, there is a great possibility that he will meet Manny Pacquiao in the future."
Meanwhile, trainer Freddie Roach has stressed that the rematch with Marquez was going to be a "hard, technical fight" indicating that they would "have to make some adjustments and have to fight a much better fight than we did last time because I"m sure Marquez is going to do the same."
Roach revealed that Marquez is "up in the mountains training for Manny right now. He is a conditioning freak but he's going to need to train up in the mountains because we'll be ready for him." Roach noted that while "everybody wants to see the Barrera rematch I guess he doesn't want to come to the table so Morales is a very attractive fight out there and the featherweight division is hot right now. It should be a real good year for Manny."
Throughout his training Roach has drilled into Pacquiao the fact that Fahsan "cannot be taken lightly." However, looking ahead Roach worked on Pacquiao's right which he said, "when he pivots properly as he sometimes does, is even more devastating than his left."