Barrera - Juarez 2: A legend for the taking?
11.09.06 - By Andy Olsen: Marco Antonio Barrera and Rocky Juarez clashed for the WBC super-featherweight title the first time on May 20. If I were part of the ESB team then, I may have used the same headline as I have here to preview it. The bookmakers certainly disagreed however, making Barrera the strong favourite. Indeed, the consensus opinion amongst fans was that Barrera would have too much in terms of ability and experience. Of course his 62-4 record, with the whole host of big names he has beaten on it, could have been cited as evidence of this.
Article posted on 12.09.2006
Yet Barrera laboured to a win, despite what we were told on the night (it was of course announced as a draw, until it was discovered there was on the master scorecard and the judges had actually given Marco Antonio the nod). I too thought he won, but it was certainly a close affair, with Rocky’s performance deserving of the second chance he gets on Saturday night. The Golden Boy promotions card will be a HBO Pay-per view offering in the States. Sky Sports have come up with the goods here, putting it on live at 2AM our time.
To their credit, there are no claims from the Barrera camp about underestimating Juarez first time around. They claim that they expected a hard fight the first time, got one, and see the same happening again here. It could actually be harder.
For starters, the first fight leaves Juarez in no doubt that he does indeed belong in the same ring as someone, who will surely go down as one of Mexico’s finest (and that is saying something). He is certainly making the right noises ahead of the fight. In the conference call the pair held, he stated “I feel that I have to beat him decisively the second time around. I feel that, you know, not too many fighters get the second opportunity, a second chance for a title back-to-back, and as fast as this has happened. So I have to make the best of it and go out there and leave nothing behind”. That he won’t and we will certainly be watching Rocky Juarez at his very best come September 16.
But what about Barrera? Here I am going to be careful, as he has certainly being written off before, only to emphatically prove us wrong. A pair of losses to Junior Jones back in ’96 suggested he wasn’t the future great he was being built up as at the time. However back he came, cementing his place in history alongside Erik Morales, with a fight very few who witnessed it will forget. He wasn’t awarded the decision, but most thought he had won. Either way, it was apparent this guy was something special.
In another career highlight, he handed the much vaunted Prince Naseem Hamed a boxing lesson. It was a loss Hamed never really recovered from. However the way in which he was picked apart by Manny Paquiao suggested that his time at the top was up. A third win over Morales, who would go on to beat Paquiao, suggested that once again we had been too quick to write Morales off. The Morales fight has been to date his last truly great fight, with mandatory wins over Fana and Peden not telling us what he has left in the tank.
Juarez (25-2, 18 KOs) was written off before the first fight, mainly due to his loss versus Humberto Soto in August 2005. He was simply outfought that night, with Soto the deserving victor. Nor were present the names on his record to suggest he could handle Barrera’s class. However fighters get judged when they step it up in terms of the opposition, and without doubt he is capable of winning a world title. He is also aware that he can catch Barrera, having given him some difficult moments over the twelve rounds first time around.
If I am wrong here, and Barrera does retain his title, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. A proven fighter and modern day great winning couldn’t possibly be a surprise. The bookies make him the favorite, and that too is not surprising. However the odds on a Juarez this time round are shorter, with more people thinking, like I do, that he may be the one who will prevail. Perhaps this is the one time Barrera runs out of steam. He cannot do this forever, and after 11 years at the top, perhaps the younger challenger may have that little bit more. One thing is for sure, if he does want Barrera’s crown, the young lion had better be ready for the fight of his life. Anything less and thus endeth his chances.
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