In what is undoubtedly the biggest fight of his career, Australian Robbie Peden will unify his IBF super featherweight title with the WBC championship held by Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera in what promises to be an all out war on September 17th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 31-year-old Queenslander, who has fought the vast majority of his professional bouts in the USA, realizes that he cannot afford to make mistakes against the three division champion, but likens his fight with Barrera to another iconic Aussie who regularly does battle with intimidating foes.
“Steve Irwin just called to say he’s going to try and make the fight, but he said on the 17th you are the Crocodile Hunter,” Peden said recently. “That’s what I plan to do, subdue the crocodile.”
Now in the final stages of his ten week training camp, Peden is confident that he can spring the upset and believes that since winning the world title with a 8th round stoppage over betting favourite Nate Campbell in February he has continued to improve.
“This camp I’ve been much more focused and intense since winning the title,” he said. “My trainer Roger Bloodworth says I’m stronger and hungrier than he’s ever seen me.”
In Barrera, Peden will be facing an accomplished technician and ring savvy veteran of 65 pro fights. He will also have to deal with the hostilities of the largely pro-Mexican crowd who are expected to be particularly vociferous as the fight will take place on Mexican Independence Day.
“Barrera keeps on talking about his Mexican heart; come the 17th people will be talking about my Australian heart,” said a determined Peden, 25-2 (14).
With a parochial crowd there to support him, all the pressure will be on Barrera to win in the name of Mexican pride.
“I am training extremely hard for this fight as it would mean everything to unify the championship for all of Mexico on Mexican Independence Day,” said Barrera, 60-4 1NC (42). “I feel like a young prospect again with so much motivation to win this fight. It’s a great feeling.
“This will be the first time I have the chance to fight on Mexican Independence Day. I know the Mexican people stream in to Las Vegas for this event and it will be my honor to fight for them that night.
“I know in the past only fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya have fought on this date so it is an honor for me follow in their steps. I think it is a testament to all I have accomplished in my boxing career.”
It will not be the first time the two have shared the square circle. Peden has been a regular sparring partner for Barrera in the past and by his own estimation says that they have done over 200 rounds together. With this kind of familiarity one could be forgiven for thinking that the fight might turn into a stinker.
But Peden insists this won’t be the case.
“Hey, I’ve got respect for Barrera in and out of the ring, but leading into the fight he will be my worst enemy,” he said. “It won’t be a hate, but anyone that tries to take anything from me becomes my enemy.”
For Peden a victory would not only garner him a second world title, but it would also stamp his claim to being one of the best fighters in the game today and put him in line for future lucrative bouts against the likes of Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao.
Despite the fight taking place on a day that is auspicious to all Mexicans, Peden’s pride will also be on the line.
“Yes I am Australian first and am proud of my Aborigine background, but I live in America now for quite sometime and since most of my fights have been hereas a matter of fact all of them but the championship fight which was in AustraliaI feel like I’m fighting for America on the 17th,” said Peden.
“Funny but I think I will be fighting for America and after I beat Barrera, I also be celebrating Mexican Independence Day Australian style.”
Peden deserves credit for taking this fight. While some other world champions seem content to win a world title and milk the belt for money, Peden has lived up to his claims that he wants to fight the best in his division.
One substantial advantage that Peden will have is the fact that’s he’s a natural 130 pounder, while Barrera began his career as a flyweight. How much of an impact this will have on the fight remains to be seen, but with his superior hand speed and vigorous workrate it’s not hard to envisage a similar result to the Pacquiao-Barrera bout.
And while Barrera is regarded as one of the best body punchers in boxing, Peden says that it’s his body work that will be the key to victory in this fight.
“We’ve been working on my body attack because that is where I am going to take it to himbody, body and more body,” he said. “I’ll be ready to fight, and so will he. It’s going to be a great fight.
“I believe you’ll see a replay of Castillo and Corrales a few weeks earlier than their own rematch.”
Peden, who has been working with David Santos, Brandon Rios, Arturo Morua and Naoufel Ben Rabah in this training camp, is looking forward to going to war with Barrera and promises his fans they won’t be disappointed.
“I fight for pride, and I’m not going to lose this fight, I’m not getting beaten,” said Peden. “Do or die I am not leaving my belt in the ring that night. They will both be coming home with me.”
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