Arum: Morales and Pacquiao still on for Jan. 21
NEW YORK -- Erik Morales lost his fight to Zahir Raheem on Saturday night but gets to keep his big payday against Manny Pacquiao anyway.
The purpose of Saturday's doubleheader pitting Morales against Raheem and Pacquiao against Hector Velasquez in Los Angeles was to set up a Jan. 21 bout between Morales and Pacquiao. In pre-fight buildup, promoter Bob Arum said Morales and Pacquiao would meet again if they both won Saturday.
Despite Raheem's upset decision over Morales, Arum claims his original plan stands. Morales and Pacquiao still will fight Jan. 21 and make $1.75 million apiece.
"This does not affect the January 21 fight," Arum said. "We're going ahead with it."
Arum is the promoter for Morales and Raheem, so why not let Raheem fight Pacquiao instead? Because Arum thinks there's more money to be made from a Morales-Pacquiao rematch.
Morales won the first fight, and Arum suspects his loss to Raheem will stoke interest among Pacquiao fans from the Philippines.
"This time the Filipinos will probably be even bullish with Pacquiao's chances. The Filipinos will be betting more money on Manny," Arum said.
It is a good thing Arum is not the commissioner of baseball as he probably would have let the New York Yankees play in the World Series last year despite losing to the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs because the Yankees attract more interest.
Raheem, who fought on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, instead will try to land a lightweight title shot after scoring the biggest win of his career by far.
"I beat a legend tonight," Raheem said. "I've always believed in myself. I have just always needed an opportunity like this."
Although the decision was unanimous against him, Morales thought he won.
"He didn't seem like he wanted to fight," Morales said. "He kept running. I thought I was more aggressive and should have won. But give him credit. He was slick and he boxed very well. He was very difficult to hit and he got in a few good shots."
Raheem actually was just as aggressive and nearly twice as accurate as Morales. Raheem landed 161-of-586 punches compared with 85-of-543, according to CompuBox. Raheem had a 111-62 edge in power-punch connects. He also staggered Morales in the fifth round.
"I think I'm ready for anyone in the lightweight division now," Raheem said. "Anybody they want to put in front of me, let's go."
Morales said he's ready to go back down to junior featherweight against Pacquiao, although he won't rule out meeting Raheem again eventually.
"I'm still looking at fighting Pacquiao again and then after I beat him, I'll come back and get Raheem," he said. "I'll just study his style and next time I'll have to answer."
Pacquiao held up his end with a sixth-round KO of Velasquez and is happy to have another shot at Morales.
"I will prepare harder this time for Morales," Pacquiao said. "I will get back at him. That's why I will train for no less than two months for our rematch."
Marco Antonio Barrera also could figure in the future of Morales or Pacquiao. Barrera, who has won two of three from Morales and got stopped by Pacquiao, takes on Robbie Peden Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Barrera's WBC and Peden's IBF junior lightweight titles will be at stake. The winner could be in line for a defense later next year against the Morales-Pacquiao winner.
Perhaps because the fight has not gained the attention of the Morales-Pacquiao doubleheader, Peden's promoter Dan Goosen tried to spice things up by predicting a KO victory for the heavy underdog.
"I believe anyone who has smart money will put a ton of it on Robbie Peden because I feel he is going to stop Marco Antonio Barrera," Goosen said. "That's the type of shape he's in."
"Dan Goosen will not be stepping in the ring," Barrera replied. "The one stepping in the ring is Robbie Peden."
Roy Jones update
Rumors that Roy Jones injured his left hand in training and might withdraw from his October 1 bout against Antonio Tarver prompted Jones to issue a terse statement saying he will show up for the fight.
"I'll be there," Jones said. "Nothing stops the RJJ."
That's about all Jones has said about the Tarver fight. He's skipped all the news conferences for the bout, remaining home in Pensacola, Florida, while Tarver carries the promotion.
"All he's been is a bunch of hot air," Tarver said of Jones.
As for the injury talk, Tarver said, "Leave all those excuses in Pensacola because I don't want to hear it. He won't be able to hit me with that left hand anyway - so he won't be needing it."
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