A Look Back At The Marquez-Barrea Fight

By Tom Donelson
Updated: March 27, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Juan Manuel Marquez finally got his chance to fight Marco Antonio Barrea and through the narrowest of margins, (officials score not withstanding) he won his battle for his legacy.

For Barrea, his place in history was already secured. Along with his main rival, Erik Morales, Barrea was already recognized as one of this generation best in the featherweights division.

On the other hand, Marquez had one defining fight and that was his draw with Manny Pacquiao. In that classic, Marquez hit the canvas three times in the first three minutes and barely made it out of the first round but by the third round, he figured out the Philippine slugger and managed to more than hold his own down the stretch.

Beyond that, Marquez was the forgotten Mexican fighter, overshadowed by his more famous rival. If nothing else, both Morales and Barrera found it easier to ignore Marquez and Marquez suffered his share of humiliation.

The WBA forced him to fight Chris John in Indonesia where he lost a controversial decision for a paltry $31,000. He might as well as fought for free.

His victory over Barrera showed boxing fans that he deserved to be rated with Barrera and Morales. Was this a fluke or a case of two fighters fighting past their prime with the winner being the one with the less wear and tear on his body?

Certainly that is how some pundits treated Marquez’s victory.

In some ways, this reminded me of the debate about how good Mike Tyson was. Tyson was one of those enigmas who lost three fights to his main rivals, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.

Tyson defenders always would state that a younger Tyson would have beaten both fighters in his prime. What was rarely mentioned in these arguments that Holyfield was already five years older than Tyson and considered a shot fighter when they fought the first time.

And Holyfield easily handled Tyson. Lewis was also a year older when he fought Tyson and he easily handled Tyson as well. The Tyson defenders have a good case that the 22 year old Tyson, who slaughtered Michael Spinks might have beaten both fighters in their prime; the reality was that he lost to both fighters and lost easily.

Marquez is caught in a similar debate. Barrera had his share of wars and he may have come into this fight as more worn fighter but in his fight with Marquez, he looked as sharp as he had in years.

This was not an over the hill Barrera that fought Marquez, but a well trained athlete with enough gas in the tank to make it close and interesting fight.

Marquez and Barrera are both 33 and no longer in their prime, but both are still among the best in their division. Barrera was one of those amazing fighters, who began his career as a banger but later shifted to becoming one of the best counterpunchers of his generation and in his fight with Marquez, he often got the better of the jabbing battle that ensued between these two boxers.

Forcing Marquez to pursue him, his counterpunching opened up an early leads on the scorecard. The seventh round was the crucial round and most controversial.

Marquez pounded Barrera from one side of the ring to the other before Barrera’s right nailed Marquez and then inexplicably hit Marquez when he was down. This cost the veteran Barrera a point deduction and he did not even get credit for the knockdown.

From that point, both fighters brawled with Marquez gaining the upper hand. After the fight, Marquez wanted a rematch but Barrera was more shaken by his defeat and the lopsided scores that clearly did not reflect the closeness of the bout.

Marquez now is a major player that no one can avoid and he has two major bouts over the horizon for big money- a rematch with either Barrera or Pacquiao. And one thing that Marquez can be certain; both fights will net him more than $31,000.

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