Ever since June 22, 2002 fight fans have clamored for a rubber match between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. When Barrera won a rematch in 2002, many fight fans were excited because this made the chances of a third fight even better. Now the two Mexican warriors will get it on again on Saturday night, November 27th, this time for the WBC super featherweight title.
These two first met in February of 2000, and put on a tremendous show. Morales won a controversial split decision, but there was no controversy about how good of a fight it was. A twelve round war with constant back and forth offense. They met again in a much anticipated rematch in 2002, with Barrera winning a unanimous decision.
Now in 2004, they will meet in a third fight, a rubber match, that might write each fighter's legacy. This trilogy will certainly go down in the history books as one of the best ever. The only trilogy comparable to this one in recent times would have to be Micky Ward-Arturo Gatti. The big difference between the Barrera-Morales trilogy and the Ward-Gatti trilogy would probably be the fact that Barrera and Morales do not feel as warm towards one another as Ward and Gatti did. Though both fighters have stated that they respect the other as a fighter, both have also made it clear that it stops there.
Morales feels that Barrera is full of himself, and doesn't always go along with all the promotions for the fight. Barrera has stated that Morales has a big mouth and talks too much. Barrera also knows that the only thing standing in his way of being considered the best Mexican fighter of this era is Morales, and I'm sure Morales feels likewise.
There have been a couple of displays of this bitterness in the past and recently. During a press conference for their second fight, Barrera hauled back and slugged Morales. Anybody who was there would tell you that the punch had nothing to do with hyping up the fight. Then recently during a press conference for this upcoming fight Barrera failed to show up, and Morales harshly criticized him for it. Reportedly Barrera didn't show up was because he did not want to be in the same room with Morales. The bitterness between these two fighters is not something that was drawn up to promote a fight, because these two need no hype to sell their fight; their past two fights can sell this third fight alone.
There are also some interesting sub plots to this fight, as if any were needed. Actually the promoters of this fight have started up a pretty good rivalry. Bob Arum and Top Rank promote Morales, while Oscar de la Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions promote Barrera. Just recently Oscar de la Hoya cut ties with Top Rank, and will be promoting himself through Golden Boy Promotions, a company that has made a huge splash in the promoting game by signing the likes of Barrera and Bernard Hopkins.
There is no question that Oscar, Hopkins, and Barrera are three of the biggest names in the sport, and certainly give Golden boy heavy clout. A Barrera victory would add further insult to Top Rank. A Morales victory would be a proverbial counter punch to Oscar's firm.
Trying to predict this fight can prove to be a difficult task. It seems the majority of experts are leaning towards Morales for a couple of reason. Since the loss to Barrera in 2002, Morales has been on a roll. He has defeated a number of good fighters including Carlos Hernandez, Paulie Ayala, Guty Espadas, and Jesus Chavez. He has also successfully moved up to a higher weight class (130 lbs), at which he will fight Barrera. While Morales has cruised since the 2002 fight, Barrera has stumbled a little bit. After defeating veterans Johnny Tapia and Kevin Kelley, he was dominated by Manny Pacquiao and lost his title. He did rebound to beat Paulie Ayala, but Morales seems to be the hotter fighter right now. Morales supporters would also point to the fact that Morales is in the prime of his career at the age of 27, while Barrera has showed his age recently.
Another argument in favor of Morales is the fact that he has fought a lot more fights at 130 lbs, and should be more comfortable at this weight than Barrera. In their last meeting the two fought at featherweight. But, before you start picking Morales to win this fight, let's list some arguments for Barrera. Marco Antonio looks to be in the best shape of his career, physically stronger than ever before. People close to Barrera, and Barrera himself have said that Marco is in a zone for this fight, as dedicated as ever for the third encounter with Morales.
Barrera has stated that he feels this fight will mark his legacy, and his legacy to the Mexican fans and all fans is very important to him. He does not seem to want to fight for too much longer, and therefore this is his make or break fight. "The winner will be a hero to the Mexican people, and the loser will be forgotten," said Barrera recently. A fighter of Barrera's caliber, this focused and determined, will be tough to beat.
If there is one sure thing about this fight, it's that boxing fans shouldn't miss it. No matter what happens on Saturday night the Morales-Barrera trilogy will be remembered in the history books as one of the sport's best.
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