Morales-Pacquiao is what true fights are all about
Posted: Thursday January 19, 2006 5:29PM; Updated: Thursday January 19, 2006 5:29PM
Erik Morales (right) beat Manny Pacquiao in a bruising and thrilling 12-round decision last March.
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Believe me, I'm not in the habit of thinking about what boxing promoter Lou DiBella does with his Saturday nights. Frankly, I don't want to know.
But I hope this Saturday night DiBella is in Las Vegas, seated ringside at the Thomas & Mack Center for the rematch between junior lightweight superstars Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao -- or, at the very least, parked in front of a TV somewhere for the HBO pay-per-view telecast of the bout.
My hope is that DiBella, who currently guides the career of undefeated middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, will -- at some point during what is almost certain to be another bruising, dramatic and highly entertaining clash between two fierce, skillful professionals of enormous heart -- experience a fistic epiphany. That is, that the scales will fall from his eyes and he will realize that what makes a fighter great (not to mention popular and marketable) is not being an undefeated, neatly packaged champion with an alphabet belt or two.
What makes a fighter great is taking on the very best opponents available, testing himself, maybe even losing, but learning his trade -- steeling himself, if you will, in the fires of real competition.
Ask any boxing fan who's considering shelling out $44.95 to the cable company whether he or she would rather see the undefeated Taylor (whose 25-0 record is "crowned" by two tepid, highly debatable decisions over Bernard Hopkins) against a safe opponent or Morales and Pacquiao, who between them have six losses. I'll bet the answer (anywhere outside of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce) is, "Bring on the little guys!"
DiBella, of course, doesn't get it. He steered Taylor to the title, he thinks that's what matters and, by gosh, he's not going to risk it just like that. And so Taylor, a strong enough fighter with some real potential -- and not so long ago a personable, likable young man who was being touted as boxing's next crossover star -- is left to posture over a proposed bout with the WBC's No. 1 contender, Winky Wright.
Wright (49-3, with 25 KOs) is the real thing -- a supremely experienced southpaw who knows every trick in the book. While not a huge puncher, he can make any opponent look bad (just ask Felix Trinidad, whom Winky shut out over 12 rounds last year). Sure, Wright's a risk for the relatively untested Taylor, but he's also a tremendous opportunity.
Despite Taylor's claim this week that Wright doesn't generate pay-per-view buys ("Not one," said Taylor), Winky is certainly the sole opponent who would create some buzz around Taylor. The problem is DiBella doesn't want to give Winky and his promoter, Gary Shaw, a 50-50 split of the purse and he doesn't want the fight to take place in Tampa, right next door to Winky's hometown of St. Petersburg.