Pacquiao v Barrera 2: The Fights We Need for 2007 (part 2)

manny pacquiaoBy Neil Thompson, 2nd November 2006. In the first part of ‘Fights We Need For 2007’ I concentrated on Joe Calzaghe v Mikkel Kessler as one of the major fights I would like to see in the new year. Another match up I am just as eager to see is a rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera.

Marco Antonio Barrera, 63-4 (42), has had an excellent career, he’s been a 3-weight world champion, and he’s beaten fighters like Erik Morales, Paulie Ayala, Naseem Hamed, Johnny Tapia and Kennedy McKinney. The ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ will probably be considered the greatest Mexican fighter since the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. Barrera has been fighting professionally for 17 years and won his first world title 11 years ago. He first won the WBO Super Bantamweight title in 1995 against Daniel Jimenez.

Then after defending his title 8 times he suffered a shocking defeat to Junior Jones and also lost the rematch. However, 2 years after loosing his title he regained it against Richie Wenton. Although 3 fights later he controversially lost it again to arch rival Erik Morales.. He responded well by being the first and only man to beat the top Featherweight at the time in Naseem Hamed to capture the true World Title (Ring Magazine Belt) at the weight. After this triumph he gained revenge on Erik Morales, he then went on to beat Kevin Kelly and Johnny Tapia. At this time Barrera was considered one of the top 3 ‘P4P’ fighters in the world. However in November 2003 Marco Antonio Barrera opted to fight Manny Pacquiao.

Manny Pacquiao, 42-3-2 (33), An aggressive, all action, crowd-pleasing fighter has also had an outstanding career. A professional since 1995, Pacquiao first won a WBC World title at Flyweight in 1998 against Chatchai Sasakul in Thailand. He subsequently lost this title 9 months later being stopped by Medgoen Singsurat. Pacman rebuilt himself, moved up in weight and won the IBF Super Bantamweight title in June 2001. He defended his second title 4 times before stepping up again to Featherweight to fight for the unofficial but true World Champion (The Ring Magazine Belt – none of the alphabet titles were at stake) against Marco Antonio Barrera.

Despite being a big favourite, over 11 rounds Barrera took a brutal beating from Pacquiao. Dropped in the third Barrera continued to take sustained beating until he was floored again in the 11th. Struggling with Pacman’s southpaw stance, power, speed, work rate and fighting through a nasty cut Barrera’s team pulled him out in 2:56 of the 11th round. His defeat to Pacquiao brought back memories to his shocking loss to Junior Jones. As I did back then I thought that was the end of Barrera at the elite level. However, once again Barrera proved me wrong.

Since the Pacquiao defeat Barrera has once again come back well. He moved up in weight to Super Featherweight to once again defeat Erik Morales. He’s also proved superior to all other contenders he’s faced at the weight. He struggled with Rocky Juarez, prompting me to once again write him off as a fading force only to watch him totally outclass Juarez in the rematch.

Pacquiao has been a little bit erratic since he fought Barrera. In his next fight he took on the dangerous Juan Manuel Marquez and although knocking down the Mexican 3-times in the opening round, he was out boxed for the majority of the remaining 11 rounds but escaped with a controversial draw. 2 fights later he moved up in weight to Super Featherweight to take on Erik Morales. Morales controlled the fight beating Pacquiao on points over the full 12.

After these two average performances against Morales and Marquez I was ready to write off Pacquiao as I had done Barrera, but like his Mexican rival Pacquiao came back to prove his doubters wrong. In the rematch Pacquiao dominated Morales and stopped the Mexican legend. Pacquiao looked awesome that night but how much of that was due to Morales’ decline is debatable. Last time out Pacquiao turned in another solid performance to out-point Oscar Larios.

Pacquiao next fight will be a third encounter with Morales, a fight he should win, whilst Barrera has a fight pencilled in for March 2007 against an unknown opponent. Providing both are successful next time out, the long awaited rematch should be fairly easy to make. Who would win? Well based on his dominant performance in their first fight I would have to go with Pacquiao to once again beat the Mexican. Barrera is a different fighter these days, ever since beating Hamed he has employed a more thoughtful, boxer-puncher style fighting behind a solid left jab. Although this change in style has prolonged his career at the highest level, once again I cannot see it working against Pacman.

Last time Barrera could do nothing to stop Pacquiao’s 2-fisted assaults. His speed, power, aggression and work rate just ripped through what Barrera had to offer in response. People may point out that Barrera was much improved in his rematch with Juarez and that Barrera may do better in his rematch with Pacquiao. However, Rocky Juarez is not in the same league as Manny Pacquiao. I feel this would be Barrera’s last fight.

Although Barrera is a still an ‘elite’ fighter he is 32 years of age and for a Super Featherweight that is old. Eventhough I think it will be a closer fight this time around, I still feel that Pacquiao’s aggression will once again prove too much for Barrera and another stoppage defeat is on the cards. Can Barrera find a way to adapt his style to beat Pacquiao? …. In my opinion it’s doubtful. However a win for Barrera would be hugely impressive for his legacy and another win for Pacquiao would cement his superiority over the great Mexican’s of his time.

PREDICTION –Pacquiao beats Barrera KO 10.

Thanks for reading.

Article posted on 02.11.2006

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