While Marco Antonio Barrera seemed to be his old self in breaking down Paulie Ayala this past Saturday, let’s not forget it was Ayala in that ring and not Manny Pacquiao. Before answering whether or not ‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ is ‘back’ or not, a better question may be whether he was ever gone in the first place. Several scribes and announcers claim “he’s back” after dismantling Ayala – but from where?

The only place Barrera went was to a place called Mannyville, Pactown. Call it what you will, but it was an unpleasant trip, nonetheless, and one I’m not sure Barrera would want to make reservations for again. If he does, he better buy travelers insurance with the maximum coverage allowed. Barrera was on the wrong side of a beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao, and from what we saw last Saturday a rematch would be much of the same.

Barrera is not back, he was never gone. He just fought a guy who was faster than him, stronger than him, younger than him and who had too much for him. Using Barrera’s performance against Ayala as a measuring stick as to how he would fare in a Pacquiao rematch is to forget the facts.

Paulie Ayala is a southpaw. Manny Pacquiao is a southpaw. Point blank that is where the similarities start and end. While Ayala was a world-class fighter, Pacquiao still is a world-class fighter. What gave Barrera so much trouble was that PacMan is a non-stop, come forward madman with power to spare. He had 30 KO’s in 38 wins and Barrera simply had no answer. In Ayala, ‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ was up against a stylish lefty who threw lots of punches, but none that could do any damage. Ayala naturally fought at 118 and was one of the best at the weight. He moved to 122 briefly and then to 126 to face Barrera, but it was obvious that the bigger stronger man was Marco, and it showed in the ring.

In terms of power comparisons between Ayala and Pacquiao, there simply are none to be made. To suggest that Ayala wouldn’t have the power in his punches at 126 that he had at 118 would be to forget that he didn’t even have the pop at Bantamweight to begin with. Paulie Ayala registered just 12 KO’s in 35 career wins. We speak of Ayala in terms of what he had achieved in his career because he has since retired from boxing, and probably had made that decision prior to Saturday’s fight. A question of his desire to be there last weekend and really push Barrera may now be a valid one. Regardless, the bigger, younger, stronger, fighter won, as he often does.

A 34-year old Paulie Ayala was not going to be the test that Marco Antonio Barrera may need to decide the fate of his career. Manny Pacquiao is nearly 10 years younger than Ayala and fights a style that is completely different from that of Ayala. He is a buzz-saw who throws punches in bunches and will punish you with right hands if you try to throw left hooks to the body like Barrera did so effectively against Ayala.

Some may contend that Pacquiao has been “figured out” by Juan Manuel Marquez and exposed in that fight as a one trick pony. To those I say this – it is a helluva trick to be that strong and crack that hard at 126 pounds. Secondly, Marquez is the best 126-pound fighter on the planet right now. That includes Barrera, Pacquiao and division-departed Erik Morales.

At 30-years old and with 62 tough fights under his belt, Marco Antonio Barrera is older than his birth certificate suggests. Ring wars have taken their toll and if he were to leave as many openings for Pacquiao as he did against Ayala, it would be a similar ending as their first encounter.Marco Antonio Barrera ‘came back’ to the ring last Saturday, but in terms of the fighter he is, he was never gone to begin with. On November 15th of 2003 Barrera took a wrong turn on his road to 126-pound dominance and ended up in the roughest barrio, one ruled by Philippine Manny Pacquiao. Should Barrera make the same mistake again, we just may be left asking, “where did he go?”