Originally Posted by DINAMITA
He was probably slight past prime by the third Barrera fight, and effectively shot by the time of the third Pacquiao fight. I've always been of the opinion that 'slightly past prime' is not an excuse for anything. Boxers' physical primes are very short, many of them fight for a long long time at the top level after their physical peaks have passed, and many of them achieve the greatest wins of their careers after their physical peak.
Morales was slightly past-prime for the first Pac fight, but IMO it was the best win and performance of his career.
He was exactly the same man for his second fight with Pac a year later, the Raheem loss can be attributed to Morales never being suited to 135 (like Hatton wasn't for 147 or Whitaker wasn't for 154 or Oscar wasn't for 160) and Raheem being a bad stylistic match and Morales maybe not being as motivated for that relatively small fight after Barrera & Morales.
He fought the same way in the second as he did in the first, but Pac was different in the second, stronger, faster and more determined.
The physical and mental after-effects of being floored for the first times in his career and stopped led to the shell of a man we saw in the third fight.
I agree on your first part, but not the second. He slowed down greatly vs. Raheem and negated his boxing skills, opting to slug with Raheem and even managed to hurt Raheem with right hands especially late in the fight, but it was too late. Stylistically bad fight for Morales. Erik's timing was off, he was significantly slower, reckless, and for some reason would not box as much. By then he already had his wars with Barrera and first fight with Manny, but it was his fight with Raheem his abilities were on the decline.
I think his losses to Manny were both due to Manny's improvements, such as his right hook, and Erik's decline vs. Raheem. He started looking flabby and out of shape since his loss to Raheem as well imo. Just not the same fighter.