Quijano: Tete-a-tete with a Mexican boxing legend-A A +A
Saturday, March 2, 2013
I HAD the time of my life last Friday night together with my Cebu sports media brethren, hanging out with Marco Antonio Barrera and having our pictures taken.
You don’t get to have a photo op with a Mexican boxing legend every day and so we relished every second of it.
Barrera was clad casually in a blue Boss shirt and jeans and showed no sign of the wear and tear from a pro career that has spanned 22 years with a record of 67 wins, 44 by knockout and 7 losses.
He sported thick, well-groomed hair swept back to reveal a mug that has deservedly earned him the ring epithet “Baby-faced assassin”.
As we crowded around him, he candidly answered our eager queries. Here’s what we elicited from him:
1.) He still sees Manny Pacquiao all the time and they even shared a run together in the US.
2.) Before Pacquiao-Marquez IV, he wanted another bout with Marquez but the latter wasn’t interested.
3.) He’s semi-retired now and joked that he keeps in shape by doing domestic chores around the house. However, he can come back and fight if Marquez wants another go.
4.) He has tried to smoke the peace pipe with archrival Erik Morales but the latter would have none of it;
5.) He thinks Marquez was lucky in that fourth fight because after one more round, Pacquiao would have finished him off.
CAREER. Marco Antonio Barrera (or MAB in pugilistic jargon), is a true icon of the sport and for him to visit Cebu, the boxing mecca of the Philippines, seems like a match made in heaven.
He’s humble and self-effacing and still looks fit at age 39. He’s clearly keeping himself in good shape and doesn’t seem at all flustered by all the attention he’s getting. He was mobbed at SM City during the weigh-in but graciously took time out to pose with ravenous boxing fans.
MAB has been in there with the best and is one of the finest fighters to come out of Mexico.
He was a ferocious boxer-puncher who went to war every single time. He brandished a lashing jab that lacerated the faces of numerous opponents, complemented by a brutal right hand behind it.
He threw blistering combinations that opponents often had no answer to and what made him excel was his excellent stamina and iron chin that allowed him to push a brutal pace until the championship rounds.
His trilogy with nemesis Erik Morales will forever be immortalized as one of the best in the sport.
He owns victories over Naseem Hamed, Johnny Tapia, Rocky Juarez, and Kevin Kelley.
Though Barrera mentioned many memorable fights during the brief interview, to me his career-defining moment came against Naseem Hamed.
When they met in 2001, Hamed was undefeated and considered one of the hardest punchers in the sport, while Barrera had lost to Erik Morales in their first fight the year before.
Extremely confident of his abilities, Hamed would often toy with opponents and clown around with nary a shred of defense, before he would knock them out.
What happened in that fight should be textbook material for every student of the sport. Barrera systematically broke down Hamed and defeated him via unanimous decision.
For this writer, the best sequence in that fight came in the 12th round when Hamed missed with a wild looping right, which caused him to spin around. Barrera then locked his arms around him and maneuvered the British braggart headfirst into the turnbuckle.
Of course, it was a foul and Barrera was deducted a point. But it was emblematic of what transpired in that fight.
A triumph of substance over style, fundamentals versus flamboyance, basic skills over showmanship
Hamed would have only more fight after that before fading off into the sunset of ignonimity. In contrast, MAB would go on to become a true boxing legend, respected and revered everywhere.
Thank you MAB for visiting Cebu. Cheers!
LAST ROUNDS. Are on Bugs Ares Mowery and Jon Kasilag. Happy birthday and cheers!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 03, 2013.