Amir Khan was on the rebound since being chinned, in a mere 54 seconds, by an unknown slugger named Breidis Prescott. It was then, brave match-making putting Khan in with a living legend in his second fight back after the utter disaster in Manchester. Khan, who had beaten Oisin Fagan by quick KO, was now facing a Mexican great in the form of Marco Antonio Barrera.
Would Khan’s by now fully exposed “dodgy chin” possibly be able to stand up to the murderous designs “The Baby Faced Assassin” had on it? A packed crowd once again filled The M.E.N Arena to find out.
Barrera, aged 35 and sporting a 65-6 record, was only a couple of years removed from epic battles with all-time greats Manny Pacquiao (in their rematch) and Juan Manuel Marquez. Surely, even when past his best, Marco would have too much firepower, too much skill, too much passion, too much expertise – too much everything for the so-called chinless wonder?
Khan had razor-like sharpness and speed if not a granite chin, and on this night it was enough. The match-making proving to be smart not risky. Khan chopped up a game but sluggish Barrera. A nasty clash of heads left the Mexican idol with a bad cut on his forehead and that was pretty much all she wrote. The blood flowed like wine and Barrera, blinded but still coming, looked every inch like the way his country’s finest, Julio Cesar Chavez, had looked in his bloody defeat to Oscar De La Hoya some 13 years before.
The fight had to be stopped and it was stopped. Khan had a win on his ledger that looked great yet was at the same time tainted in a big way. Still, Khan had now won two in a row since the Prescott crushing and he was back on his way. As it turned out, Khan was world champion at 140 pounds in his very next fight; his masterful (and very much underrated) boxing display over Andreas Kotelnik seeing the Bolton man achieve his destiny.
Barrera boxed just twice more, winning both.
It was a bloody, somewhat unfulfilling and wholly unpredictable night in Manchester on this day in 2009.
And to think, Khan may well fight again here in 2022; this despite his recent shellacking at the hands of Kell Brook.