I’ve always been told that you have to learn to take the good with the bad in life. I used to think that it was just some sort of cliche my Dad would tell me to try to get around the true facts of life. Then I got into boxing.
If I needed any reminders, the aftermath of Manny Pacquaio and Erik Morales’ slugfest has given me more than I ever bargained for. The good is obvious and that was the fantastic display of courage and strength that both Pacquaio and Morales displayed over twelve exciting rounds that featured as much drama in the first as the final round. It was a great night to be a boxing fan. The fight was built up for so long and such high expectations were placed on the boxers’ shoulders that it would be foolish not to except some sort of letdown. After Morales got a 115-113 decision from all three judges, it turns out that the only fools are those who expected anything less than the only candidate for Fight of The Year honors so far in 2005. Yet as seemingly perfect as the fight seemed, it only took a few days for he bad to emerge, namely those trying to tear down such a great night for the
Excuses are as much a part of boxing as the gloves. So it wasn’t surprising to hear Freddie Roach complain about the bigger gloves that Manny Pacquaio agreed to wear during the fight [Editor’s note: the complaint is that Pacquiao’s promoter, not Pacquiao himself, signed off on the glove deal]. Freddie’s guy lost the fight. Defeat is always a bitter pill to swallow, especially with the way one loss can, in most cases, damage a fighter’s worth and career. It shouldn’t be that way - it never was in the golden ages of the sport, and its not the case here - but that’s what happens when money and the art of making it become first nature to the fight game.
It was set up and lead to believe for the public that had Pacquiao worn the punchers gloves he would have knocked out Morales with the ‘Manilla Ice.’ Roach may have had a solid point with where he was going, but consider that had the punchers gloves been chosen, Morales may have knocked Pacquaio out just as easily. As hard as Pacquaio hits, it’s easy to forget just how solid Morales is on his feet. If team Pacquaio doubted that, Morales proved them wrong just as he has been proving many people wrong throughout his entire career.
Sticking to only one excuse in boxing would be a blessing. But the negative attention didn’t stop with the gloves. Instead of going into how great the fight was for the sport and for both men’s careers, some are now claiming the judges picked the wrong man as the winner. To claim that the bout should have been scored 116-112 in favor of Pacquaio and then cry that fighters can’t beat Morales in Las Vegas because he is promoted by Bob Arum is way off-base in this case. Oscar De la Hoya was not given the nod in two close Vegas fights, vs. Shane Moley in 2003 and Felix Trinidad in 1999 (a fight most feel was far from close with De la Hoya losing what should have been a clear decision in his favor), and he happened to be Arum’s biggest money maker for the past decade. If De la Hoya can’t get always get decision in Las Vegas under Bob Arum, then this excuse just doesn’t ring true.
It’s not to say that Pacquaio and Morales did not fight a close fight. They did. The fight had a lot of competitive rounds that Morales clearly won. To call a fight a robbery when it is far from one is only something that will take away from the sport and both of the fighters. Boxing has had its share of robberies over the years, Emanuel Augustus-Courtney Burton and Rico Hoye-Montel Griffin were two recent examples of controversy that hurt boxing. Decisions like that happen every day in the sport and one can only hope they will be eliminated in the future. It is because of bad decisions in the sport of boxing that when two noble warriors like Pacuqaio and Morales fight their hearts out, writers and fans should embrace their performance and cherish it for a long time to come.
Fights like the one between Manny Pacquaio and Erik Morales bring casual fans to the sport. They have the best chance of making one-time viewers legitimate fans. A majority of fights can’t do what Morales and Pacquaio did. Maybe someday boxing and the people involved within it realize this. It’s a damn shame if they don’t.
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