By Ed C. Tolentino
The Moorer, the better
As Manny Pacquiao plunges into Spartan-like training in preparation for his May 2 showdown with Ricky Hatton, a former world heavyweight champion is looking to lend Pacman a helping hand.
Michael Moorer, who enjoyed two reigns as heavyweight champion, has been tapped by head trainer Freddie Roach to assist him in honing Pacquiao for Hatton. Moorer, 41, figures to provide Pacquiao valuable tips, particularly on power punching.
Like Pacquiao, Moorer is a southpaw. The Monessen, Pennsylvania native is actually in the record books for being the first left-handed fighter to win the heavyweight title. Moorer accomplished the feat in April 1992, when he decisioned Evander â€œReal Dealâ€ Holyfield for the World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight crowns. Moorer is actually a natural right-hander; grandfather Henry Smith, a former middleweight boxer, taught a young Moorer how to box southpaw figuring it would make his grandson tougher to beat in the ring.
Moorer and Pacquiao do not only have the same fighting stanceâ€“both are also certified power-hitters. Pacquiao and Moorer have enough firepower to light up a far-flung barrio. Home Box Office (HBO) boxing analyst Emanuel Stewart, who trained Moorer during his heyday, once described the latter as a â€œvicious guy by nature.â€ Steward said a prime Moorer would enter the gym with a Mike Tyson mentality and scream aloud: â€œIâ€™m gonna take somebodyâ€™s head off!â€
In a pro career that stretched from 1988 to 2008, Moorer knocked out his first 26 opponents and finished with an overall record of 52-4 with 40 knockouts. Moorerâ€™s knockout percentage is an impressive 70.18 percent.
Moorer, who once said that he â€œcraves violence of any kind,â€ was also the most feared light heavyweight (175 pounds) during the late 1980s. He held the World Boxing Organization (WBO) light heavy diadem from 1988 to 1990 and posted 10 successful defensesâ€“all by knockout.
It was in the heavyweight division where Moorer began to unravel. He was stopped in 10 rounds by â€œBigâ€ George Foreman in November 1994 and was never the same fighter. He recaptured the IBF heavyweight title in June 1996 by beating Axel Schulz but lost it a year later in a rematch with Holyfield.
A serious drinking problem hastened the demise of Moorerâ€™s boxing career. In 1989, Moorer and a friend were charged with assault and disorderly conduct for their roles in an altercation between young blacks and whites in the downtown area of nearby Charleroi, Pennsylvania. Two years later, an apparently drunk Moorer was arrested by two police officers for causing a commotion in a basketball game. Moorer resisted arrest and even broke the jaw of Officer Carl Fronzaglio with a howitzer blow.
Moorer is actually a nice guyâ€“when sober, that is. Showtime boxing commentator and noted ring historian Steve Farhood describes Moorer as â€œunfailingly polite and, while occasionally playful, always respectful.â€
In his prime, Moorer drew raves for his ability to score electrifying knockouts using only short punches. â€œHe does so much damage with short punches,â€ Steward told the May 1989 issue of KO magazine. â€œI havenâ€™t seen that since [former heavyweight champion] Joe Louis.â€
Pacquiao is noted for flattening foes with his left straight. Can you imagine how dangerous the Filipino ring icon would be if he masters Moorerâ€™s uncanny ability to annihilate foes via short punches? Hatton, who loves to fight at close range, would be a sucker for short punches.
Before Pacquiao, Moorer trained unbeaten heavyweight prospect JD â€œThe Naturalâ€ Chapman. â€œMichael stresses every day to educate my left hand,â€ revealed Chapman.
A destitute Tyson reportedly offered his services as assistant trainer for Pacquiao. Roach opted for Moorer, noting the latterâ€™s previous experience as a trainer.
Of course, letâ€™s not forget Moorerâ€™s â€œpower connectionâ€ with Pacquiao.
I'm gonna have to be killed before I lose, and I ain't going to die easy - Muhammad Ali