BIG BEAR LAKE, CALIF.-On the Big Bear mountaintop Marco Antonio Barrera walks out of a two-story cabin into the sunlight that gleams on the snow-covered tourist town. Once again he’s preparing for a big fight: this time against Juan Manuel Marquez.
“I’m anxiously ready,” Barrera pronounces.
And once again Barrera has called upon Japan to provide him with sparring and advice to prepare for his encounter with Marquez (46-3-1, 35 KOs) on March 17 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The fight will be televised on HBO pay-per-view.
“They’re great boxers,” Barrera (63-4, 42 KOs) says of the Japanese fighters. “Most of the Japanese fighters are very aggressive and do not quit. Even when they are hurt.”
For years Barrera has had Sendai Tanaka as a co-trainer to assist trainer Rudy Perez. In many instances in the past various Japanese fighters have been asked to prepare him for some of the biggest fights in his career.
Yusuke Kobori, the number 10 ranked WBC junior lightweight in the world, has been called for his services like some samurai-will travel.
“It’s an honor to be called,” said Kobori, 27, who is slightly taller than Marquez who Barrera is poised to fight. “This experience helps me very much too.”
The shy Japanese fighter is accustomed to sparring with fighters from around the world. In Japan, he’s sparred many times with the dangerous and feared Edwin Valero of Venezuela, a fighter who recently defended his WBA lightweight title with a second round knockout.
“Edwin Valero is very fast and very strong,” Kobori says. “His punches are powerful with either hand.”
After sparring with Barrera the past four weeks, the Japanese pugilist feels that the WBC junior lightweight champion can bedazzle any opponent with his skills.
“He can fight aggressively or he can out-smart you with his boxing. I’ve never seen a fighter like Barrera who does so many things,” Kobori said.
Several years ago a trio of Japanese fighters ascended to Big Bear where they helped Barrera in his battle against Erik Morales. Once again they’re answering the call.
The Tokyo native Kobori is likened to a taller Marquez. Aside from providing sparring with Barrera, he’s also exchanged with Brandon Rios, Guty Espadas, and recent world titleholder Rudy Lopez. All are tall and fight a similar stand-up style.
“Kobori hits hard and comes forward,” said Rios, a lightweight prospect from Oxnard who has spent four weeks in Big Bear. “I’m told Japanese fighters like Kobori are aggressive and like to box. He’s good.”
Barrera anticipates his Mexico City counterpart to attack. In fact, he wants Marquez to attack.
“I don’t want to chase him around the ring,” Barrera said.
Kobori has been attacking from the start and relishes the experience from a master boxer like Barrera.
“I expect Barrera to win by knockout,” said Kobori who usually trains at Kadoebi Boxing Club in Tokyo. “Training with these fighters has allowed me to see where I fit among the best fighters in the world.”
Barrera explains how he feels about Japanese fighters.
“Other fighters quit after I hurt them or they slow down,” he said. “A Japanese fighter fights harder. They’re warriors.”
IBF heavyweight bout
Wladimir Klitschko defends his IBF heavyweight title against Cleveland’s Ray Austin at Mannheim, Germany. That means the HBO telecast begins early at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Klitschko, 30, was last seen knocking out Calvin Brock in November. Since Emanuel Steward took over the training duties Klitschko’s defense has improved but he’s become a boring fighter with his hit and hold tactics. One thing he does retain is that punching power.
Austin, 36, hasn’t beaten any kind of competition to prepare him for Dr. Steelhammer as Klitschko is called. But one thing in Austin’s favor is the champion’s chin. If you tap it, Klitschko can break. However, few can handle Klitschko’s Ukrainian power. In a total of 50 fights he’s knocked out 42.
If Klitschko defeats Austin, there have been reports that he may face seven-feet tall Russian Nicolai Valuev who holds the WBA heavyweight title.
Librado Andrade countdown
In several weeks Librado Andrade faces WBC super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler for his title in Copenhagen.
Helping prepare Andrade is Julio Gonzalez an old buddy of his. Though Gonzalez prefers to train at the La Habra Boxing Club, he decided to help Andrade in his super middleweight title attempt.
“One thing about sparring with Julio is he doesn’t take it easy,” says Andrade. “But I’ve been sparring with him for years. If you can take Julio you can take anybody.”
Andrade says few like sparring with Gonzalez because of his ferocity at all times.
“Julio says they’re trying to hurt me too,” Andrade said.
Kessler holds both the WBC and WBA title belts after defeating Germany’s Markus Beyer last October. Andrade stepped aside to allow Kessler the opportunity to fight Beyer. Now it’s Andrade’s turn on March 24. The fight will be televised by HBO.
Pechanga fight card
Carlos “El Elegante” Bojorquez returns to the ring in a fight card at Pechanga Resort and Casino on March 30.
Bojorquez faces former U.S. Olympic team member David Jackson for the GBU America’s championship in a junior middleweight fight.
Also on the fight card is Moreno Valley’s Kaliesha West meeting San Diego’s Carly Baty in a bantamweight showdown.
West is undefeated with five wins and is already ranked in the top 10 of the bantamweight division.
One other Riverside fighter on the card will be junior welterweight Jose Reynoso facing Denver’s David Hernandez in a six round bout.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. seeks 30
The son of Julio Cesar Chavez is attempting to capture his 30th victory on Friday March 10, in Hidalgo, Texas. It will be televised by Telefutura at 8 p.m.
Chavez, 21, faces Louis Brown in a welterweight contest. It’s kind of surprising that the son of the Mexican great already has 29 wins in such a short time. He began in late 2003 and rifled through the lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight division of mostly opponents from the Midwest.
Lately, Chavez has encountered stiffer competition and seems to be heading toward a possible showdown with Dmitriy Salita an undefeated welterweight who fights out of Brooklyn.
Brown, 34, who fights Chavez, last fought Salita and was stopped by technical knockout in the eighth round a year and a half ago.
High School Boxing
Taft High in Southern California is sponsoring a boxing tournament on Friday March 9. The tournament pits Taft High School versus Crespi High. The first fight begins at 7 p.m. For more information call (818) 788-7695.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV