Live Saturday night from Los Angeles in a fight broadcast on HBO, the old pro Marco Antonio Barrera, aka the Baby-Faced Assassin, defends his crown against the verycapable challenger Rocky Juarez. Barrera has been in a lot of wars and is at an age when he could grow old overnight, whereas Juarez is the younger, fresher fighter. But Barrera is a definite step up in class for the Houstonian. What happens when Barrera meets Juarez? This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.

Barrera hasn't fought anyone of note since Erik Morales on Nov. 27, 2004. You have to wonder if the “Baby-Faced Assassin” still has it in him to get up for these kinds of fights. Consider, the trio of Paulie Ayala, Mzonke Fana and Robbie Peden probably didn't win a single round between them against Barrera. Further, Juarez is six years younger, still very fresh, and talented, even though he lost his last big fight to Humberto Soto. If Barrera isn't on his game, or is a tad overconfident, Juarez has the stuff to beat him. Young, strong, active fighters, like Manny Pacquiao, can give Barrera problems. But, the champ probably still has enough to beat a comparatively green fighter like Juarez. In a great fight that may expose the Mexican's increasing vulnerabilities, look for Barrera to take a unanimous 12-round decision.
Matt Aguilar

Marco Antonio Barrera has defeated Agapito Sanchez, Kennedy McKinney, Jesus Salud, Naseem Hamed, Erik Morales, Kevin Kelley, Paulie Ayala, Robbie Peden and many other top-ranked fighters. Rocky Juarez has beaten Zahir Raheem and nobody else. This match shouldn’t be made in the first place. If Juarez doesn’t put on a Rocky Balboa type performance, there’s no way he can win. Barrera by KO.
Luca De Franco

Juarez is very strong and hungry so Barrera has to be at his best. Ultimately, Barrera has been in against much tougher competition than Juarez so I'll go with Barrera by late rounds TKO or unanimous decision.
Ralph Gonalez

I'm still smarting over the Juarez/Zahir Raheem debacle. Barrera gets my vote on this without any doubt. He's still too much the warrior for the younger, fairly accomplished Juarez who won't have Dickie Cole and the state of Texas to get his back at this fight.
Amy Green

Marco Antonio Barrera should win on points. Rocky Juarez is a live underdog, but he's very predictable and unless the Baby-Faced Assassin has grown very old, he should be able to survive a tough, entertaining fight.
Michael Katz

Barrera is definitely an older worn fighter but he still seems to have enough fight in him to be at the top of the game. Some fighters get old slowly while others age from one fight to the next. When a younger, faster, harder hitting Manny Pacquiao broke Barrera down I was ready to write off the “Baby-Faced Assassin” as being past his prime. Apparently that would have been premature, but Juarez is a younger boxer-puncher and has the style to cause Barrera problems by beating him at his own game. Juarez works well stalking and also on the inside while Barrera would do best to get in and off first and then get out, but Juarez is the one moving up in weight so it may be a moot point. It is really tough to script this one as MAB can fight a brawling bout or box from the outside depending on how he feels once the fighters taste each other's power. I think he'll adopt the best fight plan as the fight goes on. It will be very close to call early but as the fight wears on I think Barrera will start to pull away as he shifts to plan B or C to get a close decision win.
Joey Knish

This ought to be an excellent fight between two super featherweights with good power. I don't bet against Barrera – he's too skilled, too disciplined and even against someone as talented as Juarez, probably too much too handle. Barrera via the hard-fought, unanimous decision.
Scott Mallon

Amongst the blood, guts and disappointment of Ricky Hatton's welterweight debut, this week's revelation that Scott Harrison likes a drink a little more than he should and the inevitable frustration of waiting to hear who Joe Calzaghe will tackle next, it was always comforting to know that one of boxing's classiest operators would soon be back in action. Like Oscar De La Hoya a couple of weeks ago, Barrera appears to have been an elite level fighter forever and yet despite a catalogue of wars and an isolated flat performance versus Manny P, he looks as refined, fresh and effective as ever. Juarez will hope youthful endeavor will close the gap in class. Sadly for him. It won’t. Barrera to close the show late.
David Payne

It is always possible a combination of age and tough fights can catch up with Barrera. Juarez is tough and willing, but he is predictable. Based on experience and quality of opponents, I can only pick Barrera.
Ed Schuyler

Since his loss to Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera has done nothing but show the dominance which made him a superstar. His string of exceptional performances will continue with Saturday’s bout with Rocky Juarez. Barrera by unanimous decision.
Aaron Tallent

If it was like the good old Vegas days when you could always get realistic odds on fights all over, Juarez would be a very live underdog at around five or seven to one. Key factors are Juarez's youth (six years or so can be many professional lifetimes in boxing) to Barrera's tenure (almost twice as many KOs as Juarez has fights). If they both perform at their previous best, Barrera will stop him, but remember that when 2006 began it looked like it would be a year of the upset, and that trend could be revived. One trend that looks like a pretty safe bet is that involving exciting, top level boxing, before a large audience.
Phil Woolever