Weekly thoughts on fights
Appeal Sports Writer
It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for some more pugilistic pontifications and prognostications:
xx-If there were ever any doubts about Manny Pacquiao being the most exciting fighter in the boxing world, he erased them on Saturday with a 10th-round knockout over Eric Morales.
Pacquiao now holds the distinction of knocking out Mexico’s two greatest boxers (Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera) since Julio Cesar Chavez. And after knocking him down three times in the first round (and getting a controversial draw) the Pac-Man came within an eyelash of stopping Juan Manuel Marquez, another excellent Mexican boxer.
xx-What’s even more amazing than his becoming the first boxer to knock out the iron-chinned Morales is that the 130-pound Pacquiao – also a former titlist in the 112-, 122-and 126-pound divisions – started out his professional career at 108 pounds as an 18-year-old.
For those counting, that means Pacquiao has kept his prodigious punching power through seven divisions. The great Wilfredo Gomez (who knocked out all 17 challengers to his super bantamweight crown) couldn’t take up his punch from 122 to 130 pounds, which is only a total of three divisions. Amazing.
xx – So what’s next for Pacquiao, who improved to 41-3-2, with 32 knockouts? Forget about Morales, now 48-4 (34). His nose, which already resembled that of a vulture’s beak after bouncing off of a speeding truck, got further smashed and broken by the Fightin’ Filipino. And Morales said he needed a long rest before exercising his rematch clause with Pacquiao.
That leaves Pacquiao with an intriguing rematch with Barrera, should Barrera get by Jesus Chavez at 135 pounds. Although I don’t like Barrera fighting at 135, he should get by Chavez for two reason: 1) Barrera’s more versatile (he can punch and box), and 2) Chavez may not have his mind right after the ring death of his last opponent, Leavander Johnson.
Quick pick: I’ll take Pacquiao over Barrera at 130, but this time the proud Mexican goes the distance.
xx-After Barrera, a rematch with Marquez should be next for Pacquiao. Although Marquez, 44-2-1 (33), outboxed Pacquiao for many of the ensuing rounds after spending most of the first round on the canvas, I don’t see him winning – or even going the distance – in a rematch with the Pac-Man, a southpaw who’s improved his right hook.
xx-What about a rematch with Morales after his schnoz heals? Forget about it. The only thing that would change is that Morales might box even more and survive until the final bell. He’s been fighting professionally since he was 16. It’s caught up with him. His will has been broken and his legs are gone. Once the legs go, they never come back. And neither should Morales, who’s done enough in his career to end up in Canastota and the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
xx-While there are two other attractive options for Pacquiao at 130 pounds – namely Carlos Hernandez and Jorge Barrios, both of whom like to slug from the opening bell – a fight with Zaheer Raheem would be in order.
Raheem, 27-1 (16), could easily come down from 135 (where he defeated Morales in his last fight) and meet Pacquiao at 130. It wouldn’t be a barnburner, but it would match a classy boxer (Raheem) versus an exciting puncher (Pac-Man).
Quick pick: Pacquiao by knockout.
xx-Go back over this list of matchups and you will see a common denominator: I never mentioned a belt. Why? The sanctioning bodies have no credibility. If you think I’m wrong, look no further than the IBF.
The New Jersey-based organization has kept Zab Judah as its champion, even though he just lost the undisputed welterweight championship to previously unheralded (and rightfully so) Carlos Baldomir on Jan. 7.
Why? Because Baldomir, 42-9-2 (12) didn’t pay the IBF its sanctioning fee (Baldomir also stiffed the WBA, but not the WBC).
xx-Let me give you the two real reasons why the IBF pulled such a lame move: 1) Because there’s no national or international commission to stop them, and 2) It knew it could make a nice chunk of change by letting Judah fight Floyd Mayweather for their worthless strap on April 8.
Quick pick: Mayweather by knockout.
xx-Would you like to start your own sanctioning body and/or become a promoter? Just pretend the fans don’t know better and then forget merit and match up whom you want. Examples: Raheem beat Morales, so he should’ve fought Pacquiao. And Baldomir beat Judah, so he should have first crack at Mayweather. But who cares, right?
xx-Be thankful Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins negotiated their way out of their proposed rematch. Jones, coming off two knockouts, stunk the place out during Antonio Tarver-Jones III. And Las Vegas smelled like rotten eggs after Hopkins sleepwalked his way through his rematch with Jermain Taylor.
If I want to nod off, I’ll just replay – you guessed it – the Chris Byrd-DaVarryl Williamson match for the AVS (Ambien, Valium, Soma) title.
xx-Tune in to HBO on Saturday, when Arturo Gatti, 39-7 (30), makes yet another return (he got smashed by Mayweather in his last fight). He will face unknown but unbeaten Thomas Damgaard, 37-0 (27).
All I know is that Damgaard is 34, a southpaw, and has yet to fight anyone of note in his prime. We will find out together if he’s never fought for a world title because he doesn’t have a good promoter, didn’t want to pay sanctioning fees, really is that good, or all of the above.
I’m not picking this one because I haven’t seen Damgaard fight, but I’m kind of hoping to see Gatti fight world junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton, so here’s to Gatti – unless Damgaard i s that darn good.