LAS VEGAS – Fans were disappointed, but Marco Antonio Barrera used his ring experience to outbox Rocky Juarez in the rematch Saturday night.
WBC junior lightweight titleholder Barrera kept his opponent at arm’s length and used a steady stream of jabs and left hooks to win a unanimous decision before more than 10,000 fans at the MGM Grand. There were no knockdowns.
In the first match Barrera exchanged punches liberally and though he won by split-decision, his face was raw from the amount of punches he absorbed. Not this time.
Juarez attempted to entice the Mexico City three-division world champion into a slugfest, but the old pro never took the bait.
“I gave him a boxing lesson,” said Barrera (63-4, 42 KOs) whose face was nearly free of any marks. “I did exactly what I intended to do.”
The jab was Barrera’s primary weapon and the effects of it left Juarez’s right eye swollen and nearly closed.
“He hurt me with a good punch in the eye,” said Juarez (25-3, 18 KOs) who had hoped a change in venue might help him with the judgment. “I think I did better than the first fight.”
For nine rounds the Mexico City boxer refused to engage inside with Juarez. But with only three rounds left, Barrera engaged in a small skirmish with the young and tough Texan and was caught with a solid right hand. That changed Barrera’s mind and back he went to the boxing lesson.
“I learned to never fight to the level of my opponent,” said Barrera, 32, who keeps his world title. “Next year I want to retire.”
According to Compubox, Barrera landed 178 punches to Juarez’s 134. Barrera also landed 105 jabs.
Barrera said he seeks to avenge his last loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2003. It’s the one blemish on his career that he seems to need to mend.
“My next fight I would like to fight Manny Pacquiao. But I’ll fight whoever Oscar De La Hoya wants me to fight,” Barrera said.
Juarez left the ring to cheers, but suffered a life lesson in boxing.
“My game plan was to stay aggressive in the inside,” said Juarez, 26, who was seldom able to penetrate Barrera’s defense.
WBC junior featherweight champion Israel Vazquez looked ready to tumble against Jhonny Gonzalez who was moving up a division. Twice Vazquez hit the floor after pinpoint left hooks from WBO bantamweight titleholder Gonzalez landed. The look on Vazquez’s face was grim. It all changed in the fifth with a single right hand from Vazquez.
“I nailed him with a nice right hand,” said Vazquez (41-3, 30 KOs), a normally reserved person. “I started pushing it even more after that.”
Vazquez began pressuring Gonzalez while landing single lefts and rights. In the 10th round Gonzalez fired a low left hook that prompted a temporary stoppage by referee Kenny Bayless. The fight resumed and Vazquez fired three left hands and a right forced Gonzalez to crumble to his knees. He got up at the count of eight but his trainer Oscar Suarez waved a white towel to signal what was the end of the fight.
“I dropped my left and didn’t take care of myself,” said Gonzalez (33-5, 28 KOs), whose nose was bloodied in the second round. “I left myself open to Vazquez’s right.”
Gonzalez was ahead on all three judge’s scorecards when the fight was stopped at 2:09 in the 10th round.
“There was a war out there,” said Vazquez. “I was proud to come out on top.”
In the second semi-main event, WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jorge Barrios of Argentina failed to make weight so he could not retain his title, but Joan Guzman of the Dominican Republic made sure that he took the title in the ring with an aggressive start that held up after 12 rounds.
Guzman (26-0, 17 KOs), who consistently beat Barrios to the punch early in the contest, used his lightning left hook to stagger the tough Argentine in the first round. It looked like Guzman was going to cruise to victory but Barrios shortened his punches and began attacking the body. A low blow in the sixth round by Barrios cost him a point deduction and ultimately the victory. The judges scored it a split-decision 114-113 for Barrios, 114-113 and 115-112 for Guzman.
“I was shocked with Guzman’s power,” said Barrios (46-3-1, 33 KOs). “He surprised me. I didn’t think he would come out that strong.”
Jorge Paez Jr. (11-0, 7 KOs) kept his record undefeated despite a last second knockdown by Derrick Campos (6-3) of Topeka, Kansas. The judges scored it a majority win 37-37, 38-36 twice for Paez who was blasted down to the canvas with a left hook to the chin at the end of the fourth and last round. Paez had knocked down Campos with a right hand in the second.