THE Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas was an absolute zoo on Saturday night, as thousands of Mexican and Filipino fans sold out the building to catch the third bout of a rivalry that captured the attention of boxing fans all over the world.
The fight started slowly in the first round, but they began to throw plenty of leather in the second. After the two fighters began to exchange huge punches in the second, Morales went down from a big right hand when he left himself open.
They went to war in the final seconds of Round 2 to make the entire arena erupt with applause.
At the start of the third and final round, Pacquiao began to batter Morales with power punches that had the tough Mexican on very unsteady legs. A barrage of punches sent Morales down for the second time. He was able to make it to his feet, but Pacquiao attacked him with big combinations to put him back in trouble.
Morales tried in vain to fight Pacquiao off. Another set of hard punches sent him down to the mat for the third time. Morales sat on the canvas, looked to his corner and indicated that he had enough, taking the full count from the referee to give Pacquiao the third-round knockout win.
The biggest money bout at 130 pounds would be a rematch against Marco Antonio Barrera, a man he demolished in 2003. Reportedly, Barrera has a March HBO pay-per-view date already on the calendar.
Prior to the fight with Morales, the WBC ordered Barrera to face the winner. Whether or not there is enough time to properly promote such a big fight, given that the holidays are right around the corner, is unknown. It's really up to the promoters as much as the fighters to make the fight a reality.
Barrera has not fought a major opponent since 2004, when he met Morales for the third time. Back then Barrera needed an opponent like Morales because his career was trying to recover from the beating he received at the hands of Pacquiao in 2003. At the moment, he can still get away for a fight or two by facing B-level opponents, but his time is running out because fans are getting more frustrated with his level of opposition.
If a fight with Barrera is unable to get made, Pacquiao should not get upset because of the amount of talent at the super featherweight limit.
There are plenty of options at 130 or if he lures top fighters from 126 pounds to come up in weight.
Looking at the champions at 130, undefeated WBA champ Edwin Valero would be a fantastic bout for Pacquiao when taking their styles into account. The power-punching Valero has knocked out every opponent in his career. Eighteen of them are first-round knockouts. I can't even recall any other fighter that scored 18 first-round knockouts in consecutive fashion. The other two fighters on his record were stopped in the second and 10th rounds, respectively.
Another option is IBF champion Joan Guzman, undefeated, great stamina, but not the hardest puncher at the weight. He hit Jorge Barrios with everything but the kitchen sink and was never really able to hurt him. His style would also make for an exciting fight because of his activity level.
How about Humberto Soto? He is on a roll since beating Rocky Juarez in 2005. Soto is undefeated since 2002 and knocking opponents out cold. He's a very dangerous puncher and sometimes looks like a welterweight by the time of the fight. Very risky since Soto does not bring the biggest amount of dollars to the table.
Juan Manuel Marquez would be a great opponent because he has a decent Mexican following and he can fight.
It would not be advisable for Pacquiao to look for fights at 135, because he is too small for the top fighters at the weight. Joel Casamayor, Acelino Freitas, Juan Diaz and Jesus Chavez are all big men that get even bigger by the time of the fight. Chavez would be the only advisable fight, but unless the money was right I don't think the fight should be taken.