Erik Morales v Marco Antonio Barrera 3
In a nutshell: third and final grudge match between the two
greatest Mexican fighters of their generation
The 411: Rubber matches tend towards disappointment in sport.
Often one competitor is in the ascendancy while the other’s
careers is in gentle decline and there’s an air of tired inevitability
about the whole affair. Like some spurned lover who can’t accept
that the relationship is over, the junior partner plays out
some embarrassing goodbye in a squalid attempt to gain closure.
And plenty of people had Marco Antonio Barrera in the submissive
role in this fight. His defeat a year ago to Manny
Pacquiao looked like setting his career on a downward trajectory. Add
to this the fact that Morales was coming in heavier by 11 lbs
– almost an entire weight division – and you can see why Morales
was such a strong favourite for this fight. How would Barrera
cope with his power?
The early exchanges suggested Barrera was coping just fine
– beating Morales to the punch, firing more accurate shots
and mixing his attacks to the body and head. These two dislike
each other intensely – the bad blood runs deep and fiercely.
There’s a palpable edge to the action every time they fight
and when Barrera broke Morales’ nose in the second round you
sensed it wasn’t going to be his night.
"you came here to beat the shit out of him and you’re doing that!"
Morales had been stupid and arrogant in the fight build up,
quite seriously dismissing Barrera as a hyped up TV fighter,
not in his class. His inability to acknowledge Barrera’s greatness
betrayed some flaw in his psychological make-up. Whatever the
reason, Barrera won five of the first six rounds giving Morales
a boxing lesson in the process. Morales boxes better from range
but he simply could not get his jab going and allowed Barrera
to slip inside to deliver shorter, snappier combinations with
his shorter arms.
Barrera’s cornermen summed up the first
half of fight well, telling their man "you came here
to beat the shit out of him and you’re
Rounds 7 and 8 saw a change with Morales finally connecting
with his chopping right hand and for the first time Barrera
felt that extra 11 lbs of power. You began to wonder would
this be the turning point? But Barrera rallied strongly in 9
and 10 to reassert his commanding lead.
Rounds 11 and
12 were incredible. Morales knew he had
to go for a knockout while Barrera’s corner were telling
him he had to keep letting rip. Neither fighter disappointed
with blistering toe-to-toe exchanges throughout the final
Usually whenever these two get into a brawl Barrera gets the
better of it but Morales was finally showing what a great fighter
he is, raining down shots on the exhausted Barrera who responded
ferociously with left hooks to the ribs and face. I’d probably
give Morales both these rounds but some (including Roy
Jones Junior on HBO) had Barrera edging it – it was that type of
"Don’t presume these two will be kissing and making up any time soon…"
The scoring was closer than you might
have imagined, one judge scoring the fight even, the other
two giving one-round and two-round victories to Barrera.
As the announcement came the hostilities between the fighters
continued with a shouting match between the two. As Barrera
was announced victor he held up two fingers to Morales and
shouted "dos!" (two)
to indicate his two victories over him. Don’t presume these
two will be kissing and making up any time soon.
Given that boxing is a corrupt and brutal sport that often
brings out the worst in both the participants and the spectators,
this was a timely reminder that the idea of noble combat isn’t
just some bullshit platitude to make us feel better about watching
two guys beat each other senseless.
Or maybe it is bullshit – I don’t care. This fight had everything
and Barrera is a hero.
The best thing about it: Round 11
The worst thing about it: Morales being a dick before and
after the fight
The verdict on Morales v Barrera: Best. Trilogy. Ever
Marks out of 10: 9