29.03.04 – By Chris Acosta – He’s not especially fast, doesn’t have major power, stands a little bit straight up and yet, I have more faith in the man than most others in his division. With Monte Barrett, you’re going to get everything he has and while it may not be what we associate in the way of top-shelf attributes, his self-belief in itself is a powerful weapon.
We as fans are quick to point out that a guy is a bum because he lacks the necesssary skills to compete at the elite level of boxing when in fact, the opposite may be true. If a fighter comes in prepared and willing, then he has already given himself the very best chance of winning. Can we say the same about so many of the heavyweights out there today? Absolutely not. Kirk Johnson is a much better boxer than Barrett but has no discipline so he in fact, is worse than a bum because I’d bet that there are dozens of young hopefuls out there who would kill for his natural talent. Andrew Golota had the ability too as evidenced by that beautiful jab and mobility but proved to be nothing more than a frontrunner.
The first time I saw Barrett fight, it was against Wladimir Klitschko and from the get-go, it was obvious that he was in serious trouble. But he hung in there, recovering from a first round knockdown to fight back as hard and long as he could. At one point, his head was snapped back violently by a Klitschko jab and just when it appeared that he was on his way out, he rocked Wladimir with a huge hook, the same exact punch that floored Joe Mesi and hurt Dominick Guinn. “Steelhammer” clinched and then went back to wearing down the smaller boxer with his heavy jab and strength. It was interesting that the HBO crew didn’t catch the punch but it left an indelible impression on me: there was no dog in Monte Barrett.
I can’t find it in me to criticize anyone who takes up boxing as a profession because I whimper like a little girl when I stub my toe on a coffee table. This is one tough game. What I do ask though, as a fan who pays to watch a boxer perform, is that they come to win.
Fighting Barrett as we have seen recently, is kind of like working as a waiter/waitress in the busiest restaurant in town: you have to bust your ass for every cent you earn and that’s the way it should be. Like a bigger version of Jr. Welterweight Emmanuel Augustus (formerly Burton, I believe), Monte pushes himself to the very limit, self -preservation be damned. He’s not the first to exhibit this as we all know. Frans Botha never disgraced himself. Tommy Morrison went up against some of the best boxers of his era with terrible stamina and a lousy chin (and those are two hellish liabilities to have at this weight). Evander Holyfield left nothing in the bank either, though he had considerably more polish to his game. Even Mike Tyson, who everyone makes out to be this bully. Well because he is, fought his heart out in getting beaten by, we know who.
Just as I will never get to meet Jennifer Garner (at least until the restraining order clears -just kidding) so neither will Monte Barrett win a world title. It’s not fair but that’s life. It’s easy to see him getting outboxed by Chris Byrd, muscled around by both Klitschko’s and eventually getting nailed by a David Tua. He will sadly be relegated to the role of “stepping stone” but even in that event, his opponents had better watch where they step.