MANILA, January 12, 2005 
(STAR) Forget Juan Manuel Marquez. Manny Pacquiao will indeed fight Erik Morales in a duel of two of the world’s best pound-for-pound boxers on March 19 in a 12-round super featherweight bout so aptly billed "Bring it On" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The fight will be beamed live on HBO’s Pay-Per-View.

Pacquiao, who will move up to 130 lbs for the first time in his checkered boxing career, and Morales will discuss the match-up in a press conference in the next few days in Los Angeles, according to boxing website Fightnews, which confirmed earlier stories of an impending Pacquiao-Morales duel following the collapse of the negotiations for the Pacquiao-Marquez rematch.

The fight card, looming as the year’s biggest draw in terms of style, form and class, will be promoted by Top Rank in association with Murad Muhammad, Pacquiao’s US-based promoter. Both camps have earlier agreed to terms.

The Pacquiao-Morales fight came to fore after purse demands by Marquez torpedoed a Feb. 26 rematch with the Filipino ring idol. Marquez, holder of the WBA/IBF featherweight belts, was offered $750,000 but had demanded $1.5 million to fight Pacquiao, who was to receive $900,000.

Pacquiao, who rose to boxing prominence when he beat Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003 at the Alamodome, and Morales, who lost to Barrera last November. were actually slated to fight in July.

Although the purse in the Pacquiao-Morales bout has yet to be announced, the Mexican fighter was said to have claimed to be the bigger draw in the fight and thus eyeing the bigger slice of the pie.

The 28-year-old Morales is expected to arrive in his training headquarters at the Centro Ceremonial Otomí in Temoaya, Mexico in the third week of January to start his buildup for the Pacquiao mega-showdown.

"For my fight with Pacquiao, I will use more science in my study against my adversary. And in the technical aspect, I will have very able people," Morales was quoted as saying in his native language in an interview with Mexican boxing reporters Monday.

The 26-year-old Pacquiao, whose left straight is considered as the most lethal punch in boxing’s pound-for-pound, is now at the the Wild Card Gym of noted American trainer Freddie Roach in Los Angeles, and was set to start his rigid training Monday.

One thing going for Morales, nicknamed "El Terrible," is that he has never lost to anyone but Barrera and has fought three fights at 130 to Pacquiao’s none.

But confidence-wise, Pacquiao looms to have an edge, having demolished the man who beat Morales.

The March fight would also favor Pacquiao who will now have a longer time training for what could the biggest fight of his career. But although Morales lost to Barrera, that doesn’t make the Mexican champion any less worthy fighter.

Morales holds a 47-2 win-loss record with 34 KO’s against Pacquiao, who boasts of a 39-2-2 win-loss-draw card with 31 KO’s.

The Ring Magazine ranks Pacquiao No. 6, while Morales is No. 9 in its pound-for-pound list. — Dante Navarro

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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