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List of Articles by Ronnie Nathanielsz


 

PACQUIAO CARRIES A NATION’S HOPES

By Ronnie Nathanielsz
PhilBoxing.com
18 Nov 2006

The Philippines’ national treasure Manny Pacquiao carries a nation’s hopes in his fists of fury when he battles dangerous Erik “The Terrible One” Morales in their Grand Finale rubber match before a jampacked Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas
Sunday morning, Manila Time.

Millions of Filipinos will say a little prayer and then reach into their wallets to place a small bet on their ring idol after Catholic Bishop Deogracias Yniquez Jr said that gambling was “a legitimate form of entertainment so there’s nothing wrong with betting on this fight.”

In an overseas telephone conversation with Viva Sports/Manila Standard Today from his Top Rank office in Las Vegas, promoter Bob Arum said “I’m sure the Mexican bishops are saying the same thing that Mexicans can bet on Morales. This is music to the ears of the people in Las Vegas who run the casinos.” Arum at the same time praised parishes in the Philippines that were opening up church compounds to screen the fight “live” and charging a minimal amount which would go to charitable projects saying, “that’s really great.”

But there won’t be charity when these two warriors clash because while Pacquiao and Morales at least outwardly show respect to each other, in the ring they have only one thing on their mind – destruction.

At the final pre-fight news conference Morales took a dig at trainer Freddie Roach and the Pacquiao camp saying “three months ago they didn’t believe I could make the weight, especially Freddie Roach but one of his fighter’s Bobby Pacquiao did
not make weight. So instead of worrying about my weight, he should worry about his fighter’s weight.”

Pacquiao refused to be drawn in a word war. “I am not going to say anything bad about my opponent Morales. I knew he can make weight. I respect him. I come to make a good fight, to entertain people.” Arum referred to Pacquiao as “the Michael Jordan of the Philippines” and praised him for being “one of the nicest people you can meet, always a smile on his face, not arrogant. He is such a true, true sportsman, a credit to his country and to this sport.”

Pacquiao’s manager Shelly Finkel said this fight was not about weight, “it is about heart and ability. We don’t take Morales for granted. We know he’s coming with his best, but it wont be enough.”

A large crowd of media people and fight fans who watched Pacquiao work out at the IBA Gym in Las Vegas couldn’t believe what they saw. Pacquiao’s incredible speed, high intensity and devastating punching power are expected to be a key against a stronger and better-conditioned Morales from the fighter who was stopped in the tenth round in their rematch last January.

Arum said 24 hours before the fight that Morales’ weight is “not even longer an issue as Erik is eating now more than he would usually eat because we got to keep his weight up.” Arum said he met last night with the specialists from Velocity Sports Performance Center who said they were “extremely pleased with Morales’ condition.” He said the Velocity people early on “did a magnificent job” during Oscar De La Hoya’s career but De La Hoya’s people learned a lot of the methods and decided not to spend the money.

Arum noted that Pacquiao “doesn’t have that problem but would have the weight problem if he was still fighting at 126.” He said the commendable thing about Pacquiao was “he is always in great condition.” Arum predicted “a tremendous fight. You got no idea of how great this fight could be. You never know until they get in the ring. Based on what I see this fight could be one of the greatest fights in boxing history akin to the “Thrilla in Manila” when (Muhammad” Ali fought (Joe) Frazier which, to my mind, was the greatest fight that I’ve ever seen.”

Arum revealed that Morales will hit harder because he will wear the Cleto Reyes gloves which Freddie Roach himself has said is the “puncher’s gloves.” He said they had “re-designed the gloves to protect the hands a little bit more but they are still tremendous punching gloves.” Arum said initial reports on the pay-per-view demand indicated they were tracking a 15 to 20 percent increase over the rematch figures while there would be a sell-out crowd of 16,000.

Morales’s manager Fernando Beltran noted that since his fighter’s father Jose Morales is back in training camp “there will be no excuses, no nothing. We will win the fight.”

Solar Sports, the Philippines' premier sports network will beam the fight "live" to hundreds of theaters, stadiums, cockpit arenas and parishes across the nation with the commentary to be handled by Philippine Basketball League Commissioner Chino Trinidad and veteran boxing analyst Quinito Henson while the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN will air the fight on a delayed basis over Channel 2 with commentators Sev Sarmenta who anchors a weekly boxing show "In This Corner", Cotabato Gov. Manny Pinol and Dyan Castillejo.


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