'Call Em Out Fridays': Marco Antonio Barrera - Mexico's best, bust, or between?

Marco Antonio BarreraBy Vivek Wallace: In this weeks 'C.E.O. Fridays' we take a look at a man who some would argue to be this generations best offering from a country known to produce nothing but ultimate warriors, as it relates to the world of boxing. With legendary greats in his rear view mirror such as Sanchez, Chavez, Olivares, and others, this Mexican phenom found a way to squeeze into a group deep enough to be aptly named 'standing room only'. With so many epic battles under his belt and facing the proverbial westside of his career, the world of boxing now shifts the focus to him again for what could be the final time. As we prepare for this showdown, we look at Mr. Barrera full circle. The 'Supportive' perspective, the 'Critics' perspective, and to tie all loose ends, a more 'Neutral' perspective. So with no further ado, we now hone in on a man known to most as "The Baby Faced Assassin"....

Marco Antonio Barrera (Supportive Perspective): Few in the history of the sport have walked the brave path of Marco Antonio Barrera. Like so many other Mexican greats, the poverty stricken streets of Mexico offered very little in terms of a bright future, so at the tender age of 15, Barrera took a very solid amateur background which included five Mexican National Championships and turned pro.. With an amateur record of 56-4 he was viewed as a promising talent, but few knew he would evolve the way he did. Perhaps one of the most alluring things about Barrera was the fact that for such a menacing terror in the ring, he has always been known as a friendly face outside of it, attracting as many fans as he would knockout opponents. After racking up 34 victories, (many of which were done via early KO), Barrera had finally reached the championship level, fighting for his first major strap - WBO super-bantamweight title. After 12 hard fought rounds, Barrera would finally become champion, earning his first title of what has now evolved to five in three different weight divisions. That long and tenured history included victories over a laundry list of greats, including Kevin Kelley, two over Erik Morales, two over Rocky Juarez, and perhaps the most notable of them all, his monumental victory over the flamboyant and previously undefeated UK phenom 'Prince' Naseem Hamed. At first site, it would appear the historical accomplishments of Barrera would forever stand the test of time, yet as we stand at the eve of his next ring appearance, it appears as though time itself may be the very culprit responsible for ending it all for the brave warrior. In the eyes of his critics, his time has come and gone, and the eleventh hour will soon come to an end. For a deeper look into that perspective, we take a look at things from the view of those who criticize his effort to remain in the sport.....

Marco Antonio Barrera (Critics Perspective): As previously stated, the one thing that has been the biggest benefit to Barrera is now trading places, serving as his worst enemy. In an era of the sport where it has become common to see such greats such as Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson, and a host of others fight well into their 40's, it would seem as though a talented star at age 35 would be at the pinnacle of his game....or at least that is until you reflect on the fact that he has been at it for a full two decades and counting. Beginning his career professionally at the age of 15 gave Barrera an element of toughness that has served him well, but needless to say the extra wear and tear of facing grown men as an adolescent has now began to surface. Never known as a defensive specialist, the scores and scores of wars that Barrera has encountered has left him battered and in the minds of many, beyond repair. Rarely is it ever addressed, but as early as 1995 - following the bout with Jimenez, Barrera openly contemplated retirement from the sport, signaling what some perceived as a lack of interest or potentially other issues to be addressed. Over the years, this occurrence would happen again on more than one occasion. During the span that he was effective few could argue his worth, but more and more things have evolved to a point where his ability to carry on is no longer a question, but more of a punctuation mark, terminating a story that should have ended with more interest than it appears it will. In recent times, many have began very critical assaults of the Mexican icon, to include questioning his legacy - as it relates to the fact that aside from Morales and Hamed - there really arenít any true future hall-of-famers in their prime that he defeated. He lost to Marquez, he lost to Pacquiao (twice), and each of the other highly notables he fought were good, but not quite on that level. So as he attempts to face one of the sports latest up and comers, he finds himself in the face of more adversity, and potentially the type that may usher him out of what should be viewed as a legendary career. After getting a glimpse of the supportive and non-supportive perspectives, perhaps itís best to end things on a more neutral noteÖ.

Marco Antonio Barrera (Neutral Perspective): In hindsight, when you look back at the career of Marco Antonio Barrera itís a pretty intriguing view overall. Here you have a man who has been celebrated at the highest point by not only his nation, but his contemporaries as well; yet when you look back at his total body of work, some could reasonably argue that he hasnít stacked up to the level one may have desired. Oscar De La Hoya is often criticized for the fact that he defeated a hand full of past prime legendary fighters, yet failed to deliver against the in-prime crop who were certain to land in the hall of fame. For Barrera, that point comes within a hair of the same identity. It would be very difficult to attempt to take away the great ring moments of his career, but at a very seasoned age 35, one would have to truly question what could be done to enhance it at this point in time. Adding to it is the question relative to what exactly would a win over a young challenger who was recently floored by a not so popular contender prove anyhow? When it all boils down, I donít know if thereís anything Barrera can do at this point of his career to change the end results. Heís given us some brilliant moments, heís been a complete professional, and heís taken on any and everyone who dared stand across from him; yet when the rubber hitís the road, the sentiments of his critics canít truly be debated with facts. I would have to categorize him as a legendary fighter who beat a few greats, but probably needed to beat a few more to remove the shadow of a doubt in some. Legendary he isÖa hall of famer he will beÖbut the best Mexican fighter of this generation? You can give me your opinion and I'd probably have to seriously consider it, but me personally, Iíd have to quote rapper L.L. Cool J. when he went back to CaliÖ.ĒNah, I donít think soĒ!

(Got questions or feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at 954-292-7346 and, follow more of his work at 8CountNews and The Examiner, or show some love at Myspace and Facebook).

Article posted on 13.03.2009

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