Last Saturday night’s battle between Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez fulfilled its expectations. It was an excellent match-up that produced plenty of drama and skill. We don’t always get that combination, however when we do, it is what makes this great sport truly like no other. As I predicted and expected, Marquez got the better of the battle. I had him winning 117-111, pretty much in line with the scoring of the judges, the only scoring they got right that night at Mandalay Bay, but that’s another story I will touch on a little later. Marquez was clearly the aggressor throughout and despite the fact that he is not and never will be as good as Barrera in his prime. Marco is finally starting to show that boxing wear. Actually, more than that, he has lost just enough of his reflexes to where he is starting to absorb a lot of solid shots. They are shots that in his past he would have easily side-stepped, blocked, or slipped and shots that in recent times he would have rolled with.
Marquez landed a lot of clean and powerful shots, much more than did Barrera. He had Marco nearly out of it several times, especially in round 7, when he was just a few shots short of becoming only the second fighter (Manny Pacquiao the first) to stop Barrera. Marquez I feel let Barrera off the hook in that round. I don’t know if he was too tired to close the show, or just simply had too much respect for Barrera. Marquez needs to work on his ability or inability to close the show. That 7th round turned out to be a memorable one as late in the round Barrera caught Marquez with a shot that put him down. It was not ruled a knockdown by referee Jay Nady who probably was just not in position to see the punch, but it was a knockdown, all be it a flash one. Barrera then hit Marquez when he was down and a point was deducted from him for doing so, which was a good call by Nady. No matter whether it was ruled a knockdown or not Marquez had dominated all of the round but the final seconds and even with the knockdown you could have called it a draw due to the point deduction. I scored it 10-8 Marquez.
Barrera would bounce back and win rounds 8 and 9 on my scorecard, but Marquez did a very good job down the stretch as I had him winning rounds 10, 11, and the 12th and final round. He did some excellent work at the end. One thing I noticed about Barrera in this fight that was unusual for him, he did an excessive amount of holding and clinching in this fight. He really could not contend with the stuff Marquez had on the inside. As I expected Marquez was a bit too strong for him. There is already talk of a rematch, but you know what? As good a fight as they put on, I really hope Barrera decides to retire. In a rematch I feel Marquez would be even more confident and most likely he would stop Barrera. As for Marquez he has plenty of great options, the best would be a rematch with the Pac Man.
So the judges got that one right, but the two fights that preceded the Barrera vs Marquez fight, well they simply blew them both, especially the Co-Main Event between Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico and Gerry Penalosa from the Philippines. Penalosa dominated and won about 7 or 8 of the 12 rounds and the fight was scored the other way for De Leon who really looked very amateurish to me at times. The fight before that one was a pretty good one with unbeaten Demetrius Hopkins taking on Steve Forbes. I felt, as did most who know the sport, that Forbes got the better of this one; however it was scored for Hopkins. Oh well, at least they got the main event right.
A moment on Johnny Tapia, who is still recovering from the drug overdose that nearly took his life. He also must be grieving for losing his 39 year old brother in Robert Gutierrez and his 23 year old nephew Ben Garcia who were both killed in an auto accident as they were driving to see Tapia at an Albuquerque hospital at the time. Robert was like Johnny’s right hand man and worked in his corner. I had met them on several occasions; in fact they were both there when we filmed our show with Tapia at what was then his Las Vegas home. We had such a great time with Johnny, his wife Teresa, and Robert and Ben. It was also one of our most compelling shows as the life of Johnny Tapia has been; well, just like his moniker, “Mi Vida Loca”, my crazy life. I remembered the closing comments I did for that show with Johnny as I said I hope and pray that all the crazy drama, and tragedy that has always plagued his life would be a thing of the past, but just like with Mike Tyson, and Tony Ayala and others. I wondered to myself whether a guy like Tapia could ever escape the dark ominous clouds that seem to hover over him. The Grim Reaper seems always to be hanging ever so close to Johnny doesn’t he? Johnny Tapia’s life seems to resemble a real life version of the movie Final Destination with Tapia being just like the characters in those movies seemingly never being able to escape it. Granted, Johnny has brought much of this on himself, but some of the other things that have happened to him and around him have been terribly unbelievable. We can only imagine and wonder what will be Tapia's Final Destination.
Should be a very good fight tape-delayed on HBO this weekend from Denmark, 2 unbeaten super middleweights collide as Mikkel Kessler 38-0 (29 KO’s) defends his WBA and WBC titles against very tough Mexican Librado Andrade 24-0 (18 KO’s). I first noticed Librado when I not so long ago was working out at a gym run then by Richard Steele. On many occasions, when I would go there either late in the evening or early in the morning, Andrade and I would be the only ones in there. He appeared to me then to be very dedicated to his craft. He has since latched on to my buddy, former Bantamweight Champ Wayne McCullough, who is training him here in Las Vegas. They should make a great team, as there has never been anyone more dedicated than The Pocket Rocket. Kessler should be the favorite fighting on home turf in Copenhagen, but I will be pulling for Librado and Wayne and will not be surprised if they pull a surprise and bring the titles back to Las Vegas.