Barrera vs. Fana: A fight that shouldn't have been made

11.04.05 - By Goran Dragosavac: Saturday night's match between Marco Antonio Barrera and Mzonke Fana has certainly lived up to expectancy of many boxing pundits as a match-up that should of never been made. And I deeply fail to understand in whose interest is to promote such mismatch. Was it in interest of champion himself and his promoter De la Hoya? I don’t think so.. This was mandatory match that was served to them by sanctioning body (WBC), so in order to keep champ’s belt, they had to accept it, and simply get it over and done with it. This match was neither money-maker, nor it was any challenge for Barrera, and it has done nothing to forward his career in any way.

Was it in interest of Mzonke Fana and his promoter Branko Milenkovic? Certainly so. For them, this was a chance for a major upset that would propel Fana on a world scene. Never mind how small their chance; It was always in realm of possibility, and they grabbed for it for all its worth.

After the end of first round, it become clear that Fana and Barrera are not only oceans apart in terms of their country of residence - they are leagues apart in terms of their boxing skills, too. And in a second round, after that devastating knock-out by Barrera, it became clear that those two don’t belong in a same ring and matching them together borders on the irresponsible.

Was it in interest for World Boxing Council as sanctioning body? I would think that mandatory match of this kind doesn’t enhance their reputation, in fact only hinders it. So, be as it may, something must be very wrong with rankings where Barrera is a champion and Mzonke Fana is his mandatory challenger. I am sure the WBC would argue that Fana has earned his mandatory position by beating Randi Suico.

Well, I saw the match and I was horrified when majority decision was announced. During that match, Fana was floored twice, and didn't do done enough to deserve the decision, in my opinion. Even if we put this “win” aside, all of Fana’s other fights in his career were against local South African opponents, so to have a fighter of his level knocking on the door of a champion like Barrera is an absurd. I give credit to Fana for his courage and his heart. However, his promoter, trainer and especially, sanctioning body - should know that to put him against top fighter of Barrera’s stature, is to risk a fighter’s well being..

So, what was in it for boxing fan? Very little. Some people pay millions to fly in outer space, other pay thousands to be taken to Mount Everest. Somebody could start up similar venture in boxing - “Get in a ring with Barrera for $10 000”. I am sure there would be a queue of z-level fighters, plus some ordinary folk, willing to do it for their ego and their pride - but who would want to see that? It would be as one-sided as we saw in Barrera fight. Plus, the ending would be as brutal.

When I saw Fana going down head first in the 2nd round, with his head bouncing off the floor like tennis ball, with his hips shaking in spasm – I felt guilty because of my love for the boxing. We are all aware of recent spate of deaths in the ring; We all know risks involved in this sport, and we know importance of making the sport safe, without sacrificing all thrills it brings to the boxing fans. And the only way to do it is to make sure that boxers in a ring are not worlds apart in terms of their boxing skills. Otherwise, it is as predictable and one-sided as it is dangerous for the boxer, who is unfortunate not to be as skilled as the boxer he fights.

In my opinion, I think the WBC should seriously take another look at their scoring mechanisms on which they base their rankings, because a fighter like Fana didn't deserve to be as ranked as highly as he was based on his prior fight experience. Is it really enough to have had only one international fight in an entire career, (that was won controversially by majority decision) for a fighter to become No.1 mandatory challenger? I DON’T THINK SO!

Article posted on 10.04.2005

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