Barrios, Guzman, Gonzalez, Vasquez and Barrera Shine!

September 18th, 2006 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - Sharkie’s Machine - Saturday night at the MGM in Las Vegas, the Main Event featured Marco Antonio Barrera (63-4-0-1 ND, 42 KO’s) in a rematch against Rocky Juarez (25-3-0,18 KO’s). Though Barrera won the decision in the first fight, many felt that if it had gone longer than 12 rounds, Juarez would have won, since the momentum shifted his way late in that first fight.

This time, Barrera put on a boxing clinic that showed that his evolution from brawler to boxer is complete. Barrera was more economical this time, saving some gas for the later rounds. He dominated Juarez with cleaner punches and excellent ring generalship all night.

Juarez was rendered ineffective by Barrera’s better boxing skills. By the sixth round Juarez’ right eye was closing fast from absorbing all those Barrera jabs. Though Juarez tried to land a big bomb and close the show strong, Barrera’s mobility proved too elusive to allow that.

The fans booed at times, as Barrera vs. Juarez II turned out to be a less than thrilling, technical match that lacked the firepower of the two fights that preceded it.


The first under card featured rising Dominican star, Joan Guzman (26-0, 17 KO’s) vs. Argentine slugging sensation, Jorge Barrios (46-3-1, 33 KO’s).

Guzman showcased his impressive boxing skills and a haughty dexterity, as he out boxed Barrios and won most of the exchanges. Guzman landed cleaner shots at a higher clip and his defense effectively protected him from most of Jorge Barrios’ vicious assaults.

Referee Vic Draculich (a questionable relation to the Count from Transylvania), made a questionable call when he took a point from Barrios for what he considered a low blow. The punch was on the belt line and Draculich was out of line in making that call. The only thing it did was, “kick a man who was already down” on points.

Barrios lost more rounds but again proved his market value as an extremely entertaining fighter to watch. Barrio is a true Warrior, with a great chin. The only way he’d go out would be on his sword. Always pressing forward, always punching (and getting hit in the process), Barrios constantly took the fight to Guzman, who also showed a hell of a beard himself.

Guzman was simply too slick and too smart for the naturally smaller Barrios. At the start of the 12th round, Guzman reached out, humbly shook gloves and then hugged Barrios in a sign of respect. It was a nice thing to see. Barrios went on to win the last round with pure determination.

Though Barrios focus was narrow, his punches were too wide to really hurt Guzman. Though the rounds were always close, in my view, Guzman had just enough of an edge in enough rounds to go on to win a Split Decision in an epic battle of memorable proportions.

Though Barrios lost the fight, he definitely won the fans over with his show of tremendous heart and will against the stronger, slicker Guzman. There was no loss of stature for the angry Argentine who likes to wear big sunglasses when he’s not in the ring.

Congrats to Joan Guzman, who won possession of the vacant WBO Jr. Lightweight Title in this non-stop action, thriller of a fight. In a way, since it was such a good, competitive fight, both guys will see their stock rise after the rankings get updated and the dust settles at 130-pounds.

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The second fight featured two, ‘cream of the crop’ Mexican ‘boxers’ in the 122-pound division in Jhonny Gonzalez (33-5-0, 28 KO’s) challenging WBC Super Bantamweight Champion, Israel Vasquez (41-3-0, 29 KO’s).

Unlike the stereotype of Mexican fighters being wild brawlers, today’s top Mexican pugilists are evolving into accomplished technical fighters. Guys like MA Barrera, Jhonny Gonzalez and Israel Vasquez are examples of the fusion of highly technical boxing skills and the spirit of their brawling past. It’s a hell of a thing to see.

It was a great match up between two guys coming off big wins over top guys in their divisions. Vasquez recently won his Title with a TKO-3 victory over former Super Bantamweight Champ, Oscar Larios (he also retired Ivan Hernandez in four rounds in June). Gonzalez won the WBO Bantamweight Title when he won a Split Decision over the technically pure, former Champion,
Fernando Montiel.

This fight started out as a mismatch, with Jhonny Gonzalez working his jab and keeping Vasquez out of range and rhythm for the first half of the fight. Gonzalez’ jab was finding Vasquez right eye enough to cause an annoying cut.

The shorter Vasquez had a hard time getting inside against the tall, rangy Gonzalez. When he did manage to get inside, he cracked Jhonny on the nose and it bleed profusely throughout the fight. Gonzalez fought on, stayed calm and kept doing what was working. He used his height and the right distance to land his shots, while keeping Vasquez away. Gonzalez floored Vasquez in the fourth and sixth rounds with well-wound, counter left hooks, both of which put Vasquez on his seat.

In the seventh, Vasquez found his way back into the fight with a big right that dropped Gonzalez, who went down hard, got up and then carefully negotiated his way to the end of the round with some strategic holding and recreating a safe distance.

In the eighth, Vasquez managed to drop Gonzalez again but it was ruled a slip. Gonzalez went back to smart boxing and won the round with his jab.

By the end of the round, Gonzalez’ face was swelling to a pulp. The momentum shifted again and Vasquez was able to score inside. He knew Gonzalez was still a little woozy from the previous knockdowns and kept the pressure on. His mission was clearly to knock Gonzalez out.

In the tenth, Gonzalez landed a big low blow, which drew a stern warning from referee, Kenny Bayless. When action resumed, Vasquez fought like a man possessed and caught Gonzalez with another hard right that dropped Gonzalez to his knees.

Gonzalez did not look stable, as he stayed down until late in the count. Though he beat the count, his trainer, Oscar Suarez threw in the towel. It was shocking, but you have to believe his newly hired trainer thought it was necessary—even if he was the only one in the Gonzalez corner that felt that way. Gonzalez’ brilliant first half performance ended with a loss by tenth
round TKO.

Congratulations to Israel Vasquez, who did what truly great fighters do—face adversity, overcome it and win the fight. Vasquez gallantly retained his Title as WBC Super Bantamweight Champion.

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After all the dramatic tension and action from Barrios vs. Guzman and Gonzalez vs. Vasquez fights, it was little wonder that the fans got restless during the one sided Main Event of Barrera vs. Juarez, during which fans were heard booing. MAB methodically controlled the pace and out boxed the ineffective Juarez in what was easily the least exciting fight on the card.

During the post fight interview, Barrera spared us the hideous translations of Ray Torres as he spoke rudimentary English well enough to communicate that he plans to retire next year.

MAB’s had a hell of a career and will definitely be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of his era. His involvement with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions appears to have had a positive effect on him. I hope he stays in a boxing related occupation but whatever he does, I wish him the best.

All in all, it was a great night for boxing. Too bad too many fight fans couldn’t see it—since it was limited to PPV audiences. Lets hope that boxing gets better organized in the future so that promoters can make enough from legitimate advertising to keep boxing on free television, like it used to be, once upon a time, when boxing was the most popular sport on the planet.

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Article posted on 19.09.2006

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