LAS VEGAS (MGM Grand) – Marco Antonio Barrera, 61-4, 1 NC (42 KOs), Mexico, 130, scored a resoundingly clear 12 round decision over Robbie Peden, 25-3 (14 KOs), Australia, 130, to unify the WBC and IBF 130 pound titles.

Barrera proved that his status as one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound is well-earned and his mixture of skill and power has not diminished.

Peden opened intent on moving and attempting to take Barrera out of his game. It simply never worked.

Barrera landed sharp right hands and stinging jabs complemented by a strong body attack no matter where Peden stood in the ring. When Peden moved he got hit. When Peden stood still he got hit.

The WBC titlist Barrera opened by dominating the first three rounds. In round four Barrera was cut near the left eye by what appeared to be a clash of heads, though it was ruled as being a result of a punch. He slowed during the rest of the round allowing Peden to win his only round of the bout.

From round five on it was all Barrera. Although he was docked a point in round ten for a low blow, it only resulted in a 9-9 round.

Peden simply could not sustain an attack at any point and his movement seemed only to confuse him, not Barrera.

Barrera closed in the final round by raking a tired Peden with his full arsenal. Peden was close to going down from several barrages. Barrera left no doubts.

World championship unifications in what has become the alphabet era have little of the feel of the time when there stood only the WBA and WBC. Although the two sanctioning bodies were not stellar outfits by any standard, the fact there were only two made unifications big news. Sugar Ray Leonard unified the welterweight division in a classic showdown with Thomas Hearns for example.

Today with the proliferation of such sanctioning bodies, fighters who would normally compete for but not win world titles find themselves in with elite champions for unified bragging rights.

Such was the case in the showdown between Peden and Barrera. Barrera, a long-recognized gem of the sport, faced a game and sturdy top contender (with the IBF strap in tow).

Peden, 31, an Australian who has fought most of his career in the United States, climbed from quality journeyman status to titleholder through gritty performances against increasing quality of opposition.

His first crack a major name, however, ended in a punishing stoppage loss to current multi-belt world featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Marquez in 2002.

Since that time, he scratched his way into title contention based primarily on a stunning knockout of fellow contender Nate Campbell last year.

He and Campbell were almost even going into the fifth round of their bout with perhaps a slight edge to Campbell. In the fifth, Campbell, in showboating fashion, dropped his hands tauntingly sticking out his chin. Peden quickly obliged by launching a picture-perfect to Campbell’s chin dropping him for the count.

Peden followed up that victory this year with a second stoppage of Campbell, this time in eight rounds, in his homeland of Australia to capture the IBF super featherweight belt.

Barrera, 31, entered the ring coming off a meaningless, though fearsome win over Mzonke Fana in April, but of course he is known for epic wars with today’s boxing elite.  Two wins and a loss to fellow countryman Erik Morales, a clear points win over previously undefeated phenom Naseem Hamed, and victories other former champions such as Kevin Kelley and Johnny Tapia have made him a fixture in the top pound-for-pound sweepstakes.

Although he came to tonight’s fight with the WBC super featherweight belt (won against Morales last year), most observers thought this bout was to serve only to keep Barrera sharp for future wars his fellow elite class opponents. It proved to be an accurate assessment.

Scoring was as follows: John Keane, 118-109; Dave Morretti 118-108; and Michael Pernick, 118-108. The Sweet Science scored the bout 118-109.

                                                           * * *

Shane Mosely, 41-4 (35 KOs), Pomona, Calif., 148, cruised past Jose Luis Cruz, 33-1-2 (27 KOs), Santa Ana, Calif. (via Mexico) 148, to win a clear, though lackluster 10 round decision.

Mosely started slowly against the ponderous Cruz. The two swapped the opening two rounds with Mosely beginning to pull away in round three.

Mosley’s hand speed was, not surprisingly, the primary factor separating the two fighters. He regularly connected with sharp, looping right hand leads and counters for which Cruz had no answer.

For his part, Cruz showed a strong chin and a willingness to mix throughout the bout. While he clearly could not keep pace with Mosely, he was able to connect on occasion to the head of a relatively stationary Mosely.

Mosely swept rounds three through nine. Cruz closed by winning the last round, scoring combinations on the cruising Mosely.

Mosely, 34, is a strong example of what fighting top champions can do for the pocketbook, and relative standing, of a battler who had won only 2 of his last 7 bouts coming into the ring. When the losses were to Winky Wright and Vernon Forrest (twice each), it can be offset with dual wins over Oscar De La Hoya as well as championships in three divisions.

“Sugar” Shane was sporting a victory over previously undefeated David Estrada in April. It appears he is deliberately in the process of rebuilding his once-dominant image, ironically with the rising businessman and Golden Boy chieftain De La Hoya.

Despite being undefeated, Cruz, 28, entered the ring a relative question mark. A draw in April with Lino Perez was puzzling, especially in light of the fact that Perez dropped a decision to Henry Bruseles his next time out. He proved tough and durable but his limited offensive will hurt him as he competes against the division’s top names.

Scoring was as follows:  Duane Ford, 98-92; Chuck Giampa 96-94; and C.J. Ross 97-93 all for Mosely. The Sweet Science scored the bout 98-92.
                         
                                                           * * *

Jesus Chavez, 42-3 (28 KOs), Austin, Texas, 135, captured the IBF lightweight title with an 11 round stoppage of defending titlist Leavander Johnson, 34-5-2 (26 KOs), Atlantic City, N.J., 135 in a bout that led to Johnson ending up in an operating room in an effort to save his life.

It was reported that Johnson was later evacuated to a local hospital and underwent surgery for a possible brain injury. Results of that surgery were unknown at press time.

Chavez dominated from the outset winning every round and landing clean hooks to the head and strong body punches to follow-up.

Johnson, despite the fact that he was in his first defense of his title, appeared shopworn.  His legs appeared stiff and his movement around the ring was labored. His game outlook, however, may have worked against him as he withstood a steady barrage by the younger, fresher contender.

Although cut early by an accidental headbutt, the only factor that mattered was the energy of Chavez in dominating every aspect of the bout from punching to defense.

At the time of the stoppage, The Sweet Science had Chavez winning every round convincingly. The bout was stopped at 38 seconds of round 11.

Johnson scored a major win early in his career with a stunning stoppage of then-undefeated Sharmba Mitchell in 1994. However, in his next bout Miguel Angel Gonzalez stopped him in eight for the WBC belt. He was stopped in seven by Orzubek Nazarov in a WBA belt attempt in 1997. Losses to Michael Clark in 2001 and Javier Jauregui in 2003 for the IBF title came close to pushing Johnson to journeyman status.

However, a win over Roque Cassiani following the Jauregui propelled him into a shot for the recently vacated IBF title once more, this time against Italian Stefano Zoff. He dropped Zoff en route to a seventh round stoppage and with it, at the age of 35, a world title.

Chavez, 32, a previous WBC belt holder at 130, had two previous shots at the elite of the sport, losing in WBC super featherweight contests to Erik Morales (L12) in 2004 and Floyd Mayweather (KO by 9) in 2001. This was his first bout in the lightweight division.

Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions promoted the bouts. Coverage was by HBO PPV, Jim Lampley announcer, with Larry Merchant and Emanuel Steward providing color.