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Pacquiao avenges defeat with TKO of Morales

LAS VEGAS -- Manny Pacquiao vowed there would be no excuses this time. It turned out he didn't need any.

Throwing punches at every angle, Pacquiao avenged his defeat 10
months ago and handed Erik Morales the worst beating of his career
before finally stopping him in the 10th round Saturday night of
their 130-pound showdown.

It was the first time Morales had been stopped in what had
been a spectacular career, and it came with a spectacular
performance by a Filipino who never stopped punching.

The end came at 2:33 of the 10th round when Morales, who had
barely gotten up in time from the first knockdown of the round, was
knocked back down with a flurry of punches and referee Kenny Bayles
wasted no time in stopping the fight.

"I saw I hurt him every time I hit him in the body," Pacquiao
said.

Morales' face was a mess of welts and he had lumps on his
forehead and head after taking the beating of his career. It was
the third loss in the past four fights for the Mexican who had held
titles in three weight classes but has been in some
bruising fights.

"I was tired because of making weight and I was tired because
of all the tough fights I've had," Morales said.

Morales (48-4) had beaten Pacquiao in a 12-round decision last
March, a loss Pacquiao blamed on problems with his promoter, his
taxman and his gloves. He went into the ring Saturday saying he was
100 percent and that there would be no excuses, win or lose.

The first fight was a 12-round brawl, and the rematch promised
to live up to expectations early with both fighters trading freely
and landing clean shots to the head. Pacquaio was busier, though,
and seemed to win some early rounds through sheer volume of
punches.

No title was at stake, but a lot of national pride was in a bout
that drew 14,618 fans to the UNLV campus arena, many cheering their
countrymen on.

As the fight went on it was Pacquaio's supporters doing the most
cheering as Pacquaio wore down Morales and landed shot after shot
to the head and body.

"I could see he was having problems taking my punches,"
Pacquaio said. "I had no problem taking his."

Pacquaio (41-3-1, 32 knockouts) landed a big punch in the second
round, a left hand that sent Morales backwards and forced him to
grab onto the top rope to stay up. Morales also appeared ready to
go down at the end of the sixth round after a series of punches in
the corner, but bounced off referee Kenny Bayless and stayed
upright as the bell sounded to end the round.

As the fight went on, Pacquaio kept the pressure on, and Morales
looked increasingly weary. Between rounds, he complained that his
legs hurt and his cornermen rubbed them.

Morales' corner tried to get their fighter to keep the pressure
on, saying Pacquaio didn't know how to fight backward. But
Pacquaio didn't have to because he stayed in front of Morales,
bouncing back and forth and throwing punches at every angle.

"The tide turned in the sixth round," said Pacquaio's trainer,
Freddie Roach. "I could see Morales was fading from all the body
punches and Manny's right hook was beautiful."

Morales was known all his career as a big puncher who never
backed up. But for the last 20 seconds of the ninth round he ran
from Pacquaio, trying not to take anymore punishment.

"He's all gone," Roach told Pacquaio after the ninth round.

Roach was prophetic as Pacquaio came out and kept the pressure
on Morales, whose face was marked by the sheer volume of punches he
took. Midway through the round, Pacquaio landed a huge left hand in
the middle of a combination that put Morales on the canvas.

Morales stayed there with his arm over a ring rope before
finally getting up at the count of nine. Pacquaio was then all over
him, landing a flurry that put a defenseless Morales down and ended
the fight.

"He hit me with a lot of real good hard shots," Morales said.
"I got hit in the head a lot."

Pacquaio made $2 million for the fight, but more important kept his stature as a national hero in the Philippines.

"I know everyone in the Philippines is happy," he said.