Barrera has unfinished business with Pacquiao
By Rob Scott (April 9, 2005) 
Photo © HBO-PPV
Boxing history is filled with the names of great fighters. My definition of a great fighter has always been one who puts on great performances, against great adversaries, often under great adversity. While many great fighters have had their nights in which they have shown their dominance, these same fighters have had their share of rough and tumble nights as well. All greats have walked away with victories that were well earned, but some have undeserved wins on their records also. James Toney’s ‘92 victory over Dave Tiberi was perceived to be such a robbery that a federal investigation took place in its wake. While less controversial than Toney’s victory, Oscar De La Hoya’s ‘97 win over Pernell Whitaker still had a certain stench attached to it. These fighters took their victories and ran; letting history seemingly wipe the slate clean. They took the attitude of ‘a win is a win’, and kept moving on.  

Deep down, even fighters in the most denial eventually know they should have walked away on the losing end; but the victories serve as pacifiers, as they keep their careers going. In the cases of Toney and De La Hoya, return matches never took place; the wins left them content. When the wins are usually recorded, the word ‘revenge’ is one that often comes from the recorded loser. Marco Antonio Barrera was an emphatic loser to Manny Pacquiao in ‘03, but the word of revenge is one that has failed to come from the Mexican star’s lips. ‘Venganza’, the Mexican translation for revenge, has even seemed to be a foreign language to Barrera, when questioned about facing Pacquiao again.

This Saturday Marco Antonio Barrera makes the first defense of his WBC super featherweight championship that he won from Eric ‘El Terrible’ Morales in their rubber match this past November. The ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ takes on the mandatory challenge of South Africa’s Mzonke Fana in a pay-per-view match-up from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. Three weeks ago 350,000 pay-per-view homes tuned in to watch as Eric Morales impressively handled what the Philippine slugger Manny Pacquiao brought to him. Morales walked away with what Barrera didn’t have – a victory over Pacquiao.

Barrera’s resurrected career after the third Morales fight is well deserved, but should Barrera brush the Pacquiao rematch notion aside? Now don’t get me wrong, I feel that once someone is deemed ‘Great’, no-one should be able to take that away; but from certain vantage points, Barrera makes it seem like his fight with Pacquiao served as a castration, as oppose to just a loss. For Barrera to say that he won’t fight Pacquiao after his loss to Morales leaves many feeling the way one feels when the record abruptly stops when someone is getting their groove-on on the dance floor; you can’t help but look up and around and ask, what’s happening?

What’s it all about? Deep down, only Barrera knows. He has shown a great Mexican fighting heart in his career, especially in his trilogy with Morales, but he has unfinished business with Pacquiao. Even though Morales beat Pacquiao, using Morales victory as an excuse for him not fighting Pacquiao again makes one wonder if indeed Manny Pacquiao tapped into the Mexican’s psyche. Is Pacquiao the one fighter that takes Barrera’s big heart? Unless Mzonke Fana pulls a Pacquiao imitation on Barrera, nothing will be answered on Saturday.

The key is James Toney walked away with the victory over Tiberi; De La Hoya did the same with Pernell Whitaker; Barrera on the other hand was destroyed by Pacquiao. ‘Venganza’! ‘Venganza’! I wonder if Barrera will ever learn that word. Barrera can actually do it. If only for himself, he has to do it.

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