Marco Antonio Barrera had called it quits, determined that his best days were far in the rear view mirror, and walked away from the cruelest sport after a 2007 loss to Manny Pacquiao. But an itch nagged him, and he came back for one more go. He wanted to be the first four-division Mexican champion, wanted to elevate himself conclusively above his counterpart Erik Morales as THE MAN of his era.
It was not to be for a man who hasn't been the Baby Faced Assassin for many, many moons...
Barrera, who fans hope will walk away and stay away, looked pretty close to completely shot, and the doctor stopped the bout in the fifth, at 2:36, from a clash-of-heads-cut on Barrera's forehead at the MEN Arena in Manchester, England on Saturday. Khan was in complete control from the start, and his work with Freddie Roach has paid off, it is apparent. His guard was high, his hands were fast, and he was at another level than the aged Mexican. The record book will read technical decision, and judges saw it 50-45, 50-45, 50-44 to the point of the stoppage.
The Mexican Barrera, who saw his best days at 122 and 126 pounds, was 65-6-1 NC, with 43 knocks coming in, looked slightly pensive before the first round commenced. Khan entered at 19-1, with 15 knocks, and we wondered if worry weighed on him as he waited to trade with the Mexican.
In the first, Khan kept his guard high. He backed Barrera up, and a cut opened on the Mexican’s head, as the crowd roared, sensing an early finish. Khan had a nick on his left eye, which didn’t look serious.
In the second, Khan slipped a Berrera left hook, and kept his hands up, as Freddie Roach had demanded in the camp leading up to the tussle. He ate a hook at the end of the round, and the arena exhaled in unison, relieved that he didn’t crumple. The cut, on the crown of the left side of MAB’s head, was open for business, and still leaking after the cutman worked on it.
In the third, Barrera looked to weather the storms, and hit hard with one nasty left hook at a time. The blood smeared his face, and we wondered when a cornerman or doctor would halt the one sided event. Short of using a kotex, there was no way to close the MAB cut.
In the fourth, Khan started everything with the snappy jab, and he usually put at least three punches together. The ref stopped it to let the doc look at the slice, but MAB elected to continue.
In round five, Khan bounced on his feet, moved when he had to, and looked to be in complete control. He took a right, a reminder right that MAB hadn’t folded. But then the doc looked at the cut again, determined that it was too wide, and told the ref to stop the scrap.
Barrera said after he would've won if not for the cut, and said he didn't feel any power from Khan. He said he will talk to his family and Don King about continuing fighting, and shrugged off the loss, blaming it on the cut. FYI Barrera was cut in a rust shedder in January, but that was over his left eye, not high on his head. Basically, when you get older, the skin gets thinner, and a boxer tends to get sliced more easily. Barrera's days an anything other than a steppingstone are over.
Khan said that he'd learned loads from Roach, and feels like a different fighter. Roach said that he sees Khan as his next champion, no doubt about it. No future foe was announced by promoter Frank Warren.
Stay tuned for Ronan Keenan’s more detailed report.