By Geoffrey Ciani: Saturday night, Juan Manuel Marquez outworked and out-hustled Marco Antonio Barrera en route to a unanimous decision victory. The highly anticipated match-up between these two great Mexican warriors was an exciting encounter with two of the best in the business. This victory might prove to be the career-defining fight for Juan Manuel Marquez, who has spent much of his time on the outside looking in..
The fight started out as a tactical battle which showcased the talents of both fighters. As the bout progressed and the fighters began getting a better feel for one another, the exchanges started heating up. For the most part, Marquez was getting the better of these exchanges, oftentimes both initiating and finishing them. Barrera was getting in his fair share of punches, but he simply wasn’t doing as much as Marquez.
At times, I got the impression that Barrera really didn’t want to be there. It was almost as if he was going through the motions without the prior passion he once possessed. He looked like he didn’t want to do what he knew he needed to do to win, as if this battle-worn pugilist wasn’t properly motivated to give himself the best chance at winning. Even still, his skill-level alone helped keep the bout competitive without the prior passion.
On the other hand, Marquez appeared extremely motivated and it was obvious he wanted to seize this opportunity. Having spent most of his career in relative obscurity, Marquez never celebrated the type of success that defined Barrera. As a result, he’s been largely underappreciated. Without a career-defining victory, Marquez realized he needed this fight if he wants to be remembered as a great boxer. Saturday night, he wasn’t about to let Barrera steal the spotlight once again.
The seventh round was probably the most exciting in the fight; it was highlighted by a straight right hand that rocked Barrera. Sensing his opponent was hurt, Marquez went in for the kill and began unloading a flurry of punches, when, out of nowhere, Barrera landed a perfectly timed cross that caught Marquez off-guard, dropping him to the canvas.
Inexplicably, Barrera then stood over the fallen Marquez and blasted him with another right hand. Even more inexplicably, referee Jay Nady ruled that the knockdown was a slip, before duly deducting a point from Barrera for his actions (and rightfully so). I have no idea what Jay Nady was looking at, but that “slip” was clearly a knockdown. Taking the foul into account, what should have been a 9-8 round in favor of Barrera had then become a 10-8 round in favor of Marquez.
In the end, Nady’s blunder had no impact on the final outcome. All of the judges’ scorecards unanimously saw Marquez as the victor, 118-109, 116-111, and 116-111. If Barrera was credited with the knockdown (as he should have been), Marquez still would have been awarded a unanimous decision victory, 116-110, 114-112, and 114-112. Incidentally, I scored the bout in favor of Marquez, 118-109.
There are already talks about a potential Barrera-Marquez rematch later this year. Frankly, I don’t see the point and I think it’s time for Barrera to consider hanging up the gloves. It was clear to me that he now lacks the passion that helped make him one of the greatest boxers of all-time. Without that passion, I don’t see how Barrera could do anything differently to reverse the outcome. Barrera still has all of the tools needed to beat Marquez, but he just doesn’t seem hungry enough.
In order for Barrera to win, he can’t try to outbox Marquez from the outside. Saturday night, Marquez’s biggest advantage over Barrera was distance. For the most part, whenever Barrera decided to close the gap, he was more successful. He just didn’t seem interested in closing the gap very often. Instead, he seemed content taking his chances from the outside where I believe he was at a disadvantage. Barrera seemed unwilling to pay the price for victory.
When Barrera fought his three wars with Erik Morales, he always did what he knew he needed to do to win; he was passionate and determined. Against Marquez, he didn’t do what he knew he needed to do, and therein lies the problem for Marco Antonio Barrera. Saturday night, Juan Manuel Marquez was the hungrier fighter.
This article was also published at East Side Boxing