NOVEMBER 22, 2006
(STAR)  By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao’s next fight could come as early as March or April next year. Not against Marco Antonio Barrera, but someone else. Not here in the United States, but in Macau.

A Team Pacquiao insider said Sunday that things are pointing that way especially after Bob Arum announced a four-year tie-up between Top Rank and Manny Pacquiao Promotions. In Macau, Pacquiao will fight at the newly built Wynn Hotel.

Pacquiao destroyed Erik Morales inside three rounds Saturday at the Thomas and Mack Center, and soon after people have started asking when his next fight would be.

Of course, most of them are looking forward to a big title bout between Pacquiao and Barrera, the reigning World Boxing Council champion in the 130-lb division. Barrera has called on Pacquiao’s name as his next challenger. In fact, he has set a date for the rematch — March 11. Barrera was knocked down by Pacquiao in 11 rounds in 2003.

But Pacquiao hooking up with Top Rank may have shelved that promotion, despite the fact that the WBC has recently ordered the winner between Pacquiao and Morales to face Barrera. If Pacquiao refuses, he can be stripped of his International super-featherweight title. And he wouldn’t mind.

Barrera is being promoted by Oscar dela Hoya who doesn’t have an open line with Arum. They figured in a tug-of-war for Pacquiao, and the older, wiser Arum has won the battle.

"I think Manny’s gonna have two fights (probably against Erwin Valero or Joan Guzman) and then if Barrera’s still around then maybe we can go after him," said one of Pacquiao’s connections here. Barrera, this early, is reportedly asking for a purse of $3 million. "I don’t think he’s gonna get that yet," the insider said.

But in an interview with the day after the victory, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach hinted that Barrera is next in line for the Filipino icon. "That’s the fight (against Barrera) everybody wants to see. He wants to fight us, we want to fight them," said Roach. He added: "That’s the natural next fight. I would like to give Barrera his shot, he has the belts and we want his belts."

Meanwhile, Guzman, the undefeated WBO (World Boxing Organization) junior lightweight champion, has offered to fight the Gen. Santos southpaw in March 2007. In an open letter to Pacquiao, Guzman congratulated the 27-year-old Filipino champion for his emphatic victory over Morales, describing it as magnificent, stupendous and flawless then invited the celebrated fighter to a duel early next year. "I have a title defense in my homeland in Dominican Republic on Dec. 18. Should I be successful in that bout, I have asked my team to work on the Guzman-Pacquiao fight in March 2007," said Guzman.

"There can be no doubt that you and I are the world’s best two fighters at 130 lbs. The question that must be answered is who is the better man. It’s a super fight and a fight fan’s dream," he added.

The country was the winner SPORTS FOR ALL By Philip Ella Juico The Philippine Star 11/21/2006

Filipino boxing idol Manny Pacquiao won the third and definitely the last bout in his rubber match with Mexican legend Erik Morales before a near-record crowd of 18,276 at the Thomas and Mack Arena Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila). Pacquiao stopped the game Mexican for the second time in nine months two minutes and 57 seconds into the third round of the 12-round fight that had Pacquiao’s World Boxing Council (WBC) international super featherweight title at stake. All told, Pacquiao has decked Morales five times in three outings.

The first round, which Pacquiao won, saw the Filipino’s right hand doing most of the damage. Pacquiao dropped Morales after a torrid exchange near the ropes with 58 seconds to go in the second round via a left hook that landed flush on the right side of Morales’s face. Morales got up and looked infuriated and mixed it up with Pacquiao again.

At the start of the third round, it looked like Morales had been through an entire 12-round fight. Pacquiao sent Morales down again in the third round with another left hook with one minute and 14 seconds to go in the second round. Morales however got up and fought back, snapping Pacquiao’s head shortly before he was caught by a series of punches. A left straight finally sent the Mexican proud warrior for the third and final time with about 13 seconds to go in the fight where the three-knockdown rule was waived.

It was very clear in the big screen at the multi-purpose gym of the jam-packed Barangays Manresa and Sta. Teresita (first district, Quezon City) where I watched that Morales had had enough when he went down for the third time. He looked at his corner, winked his right eye and signaled that he had had enough. In a post fight interview, Morales said, "I was looking at my corner. They were urging me on to get up, but I knew it was futile. No point. I was a beaten man tonight." Very often, corners are very brave although they’re not the ones to get hurt or killed inside the ring.

That decision was probably the wisest that Morales had made. After all, it is Morales, and fighters like him who are in such predicaments, who can best tell whether they still have what it takes to go on. It did not matter (and I’m not certain if Morales was even aware of it) that there were only three seconds to go in the round and that he could have probably survived those three ticks and go to his corner and recover for the fourth round.

Morales was also quoted to have said that even if he had survived the earlier rounds, Pacquiao would have caught him anyway in the later rounds. That night, Pacquiao was just too strong despite a 39 degree fever. Morales said, "I did my best. I was in great physical condition and mental condition but Pacquiao was just too much. He was too fast and too strong."

Indeed, Pacquiao was in superb condition. I had seen him train at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles on Oct. 14 or about a little more than a month before the "Grand Finale" and I saw that right hook, the side-to-side movement and the power. But what was truly impressive in Pacquiao’s performance last weekend was the tremendous hand speed that allowed him to throw punches in bunches, as pointed out by our good friend and boxing expert, Cesar Medina.

Another plus factor is the ability of Pacquiao to throw a punch even when back pedaling, a skill perfected by most Cuban boxers. The punch that Pacquiao used to knock Morales down to the canvas in the second round was from a left hook that Pacquiao uncorked as he was backing up.

The emphatic win of Pacquiao, who earned $3 million plus a share of the pay-per-view profits, should end one of the greatest trilogies in boxing. It also cast a big doubt on the future of Morales’s career, at least in the super feather weight division that he has obviously out grown. Next week, we will feature the other great trilogies in boxing.

Morales has had a glorious career as a fighter. He has won world titles in three divisions and could lay claim to being one of the greatest fighters that Mexico has produced, together with Julio Cesar Chavez and Morales’s arch enemy, Marco Antonio Barrera (with whom Morales has also gone through a trilogy that went Barrera’s way). According to, when asked about retirement, Morales, who earned $2.75 million plus a percentage of pay-per-view profits, said he would need to think about it.

"I had a long, illustrious career," Morales said. "I’ve done it all. It might not be the best thing (to continue). It was always a pleasure on my part to thrill people with great, great fights."

Just as surprising as the quick third-round ending of the fight was the announcement by promoter Bob Arum that his company, Top Rank Inc. will promote Pacquiao for the next four years. The announcement stunned the boxing world simply because Pacquiao had signed a seven-fight deal with Golden Boy Promotions of Oscar de la Hoya around September or a few weeks before the "Grand Finale."

According to Boxing Talk, MP Productions, a Philippine-run company of Pacquiao will guide Pacquiao’s career along with Top Rank Inc. Pacquiao has allegedly already refunded De la Hoya the $500,000 given him as in incentive to sign up last September. It was reported that De la Hoya refused to take back the money. Looks like this business transaction will end up in court again.

Aside from Pacquiao, the Filipino nation was the biggest victor. The fight had become the country’s fight and every Filipino saw a bit of Pacquiao in himself. At Bgys. Sta. Teresita and Manresa (headed by barangay captains Nonoy Cabalauna and Cicero Ada) where my son Joseph organized, with the help of William and Ronald Tieng and Rico Arce of Solar Sports, the free showing of the fight, thousands of common folk jammed every nook and corner of the venues.

One could clearly see, especially at the grass roots from where all development should emanate the oneness in spirit of the Filipino people that Sunday morning. There was no time for division and disagreement. Everything was orderly because everyone shared a common goal.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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