Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pacman Is Simply The Greatest!

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Manny Pacquiao vowed there would be no excuses this time. It turned out he didn't need any.

Throwing punches at every angle, Pacquiao avenged his defeat 10 months ago and handed Erik Morales the worst beating of his career before finally stopping him in the 10th round Saturday night of their 130-pound showdown.

It was the first time Morales had ever been stopped in what had been a spectacular career, and it came with a spectacular performance by a Filipino who never stopped punching.

The end came at 2:33 of the 10th round when Morales, who had barely gotten up in time from the first knockdown of the round, was knocked back down with a flurry of punches and referee Kenny Bayles wasted no time in stopping the fight.

"I saw I hurt him every time I hit him in the body," Pacquiao said.

Morales face was a mess of welts and he had lumps on his forehead and head after taking the beating of his career. It was the third loss in the last four fights for the Mexican who had held titles in three different weight classes but has been in some bruising fights.

"I was tired because of making weight and I was tired because of all the tough fights I've had," Morales said.

Morales (48-4) had beaten Pacquiao in a 12-round decision last March, a loss Pacquiao blamed on problems with his promoter, his taxman and his gloves. He went into the ring Saturday saying he was 100 percent and that there would be no excuses, win or lose.

The first fight was a 12-round brawl, and the rematch promised to live up to expectations early with both fighters trading freely and landing clean shots to the head. Pacquaio was busier, though, and seemed to win some early rounds through sheer volume of punches.

No title was at stake, but a lot of national pride was in a bout that drew 14,618 fans to the UNLV campus arena, many cheering their countrymen on.

As the fight went on it was Pacquaio's supporters doing the most cheering as Pacquaio wore down Morales and landed shot after shot to the head and body.

"I could see he was having problems taking my punches," Pacquaio said. "I had no problem taking his."

Pacquaio (41-3-1, 32 knockouts) landed a big punch in the second round, a left hand that sent Morales backwards and forced him to grab onto the top rope to stay up. Morales also appeared ready to go down at the end of the sixth round after a series of punches in the corner, but bounced off referee Kenny Bayless and stayed upright as the bell sounded to end the round.

As the fight went on, Pacquaio kept the pressure on, and Morales looked increasingly weary. Between rounds, he complained that his legs hurt and his cornermen rubbed them.

Morales' corner tried to get their fighter to keep the pressure on, saying Pacquaio didn't know how to fight backwards. But Pacquaio didn't have to because he stayed in front of Morales, bouncing back and forth and throwing punches at every angle.

"The tide turned in the sixth round," said Pacquaio's trainer, Freddie Roach. "I could see Morales was fading from all the body punches and Manny's right hook was beautiful."

Morales was known all his career as a big puncher who never backed up. But for the last 20 seconds of the ninth round he ran from Pacquaio, trying not to take anymore punishment.

"He's all gone," Roach told Pacquaio after the ninth round.

Roach was prophetic as Pacquaio came out and kept the pressure on Morales, whose face was marked by the sheer volume of punches he took. Midway through the round, Pacquaio landed a huge left hand in the middle of a combination that put Morales on the canvas.

Morales stayed there with his arm over a ring rope before finally getting up at the count of nine. Pacquaio was then all over him, landing a flurry that put a defenseless Morales down and ended the fight.

"He hit me with a lot of real good hard shots," Morales said. "I got hit in the head a lot."

Pacquaio made $2 million for the fight, but more importantly kept his stature as a national hero in the Philippines.

"I know everyone in the Philippines is happy," he said.


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