Rocky Juarez’s last chance
By Vikram Birring (Sept 5, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)  
Ricardo “Rocky” Juarez has heard it all before. “You’ll get him this time Rock!” “It’s your time Rock!” “This time you’ll get the belt Rocky!” Yet each time, he’s managed to come up just short.

Three years ago, on the fast track to stardom, he was derailed by Erik Morales’s former sparring partner Humberto Soto. After a couple of tune-ups, he received the opportunity of a lifetime, a shot at Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera. He gave a valiant effort and seemingly beat the spirit out of Barrera, only to
receive a draw that was suspiciously later changed to a Barrera victory. In the rematch, Barrera boxed from a distance, never giving Juarez the chance to engage.

Last November, Juarez received a chance at hotshot Juan Manuel Marquez. Again, he was the victim of cruel luck; a cut in the first round blinded Juarez most of the fight. The fact he lasted twelve rounds was a testament to his courage. But courage did not equate to a victory, and again, Juarez was left searching for answers.

He changed trainers, had surgery on his eye, trained harder than ever before, and is being given perhaps his best opportunity at redemption: a shot on a major card, in his own hometown of Houston.

But to emerge victorious will be no easy task. In his way stands robust Jorge Rodrigo Barrios of Argentina, a man who once wiped blood on a referee’s shirt in order to give himself a few seconds of clear eyesight.

Like Juarez, Barrios has had his share of bad luck. Against Acelino Freitas, he seemingly had exposed the chink in Popo’s armor, only to be stunned by a right cross after the bell in the 11th round.

Joan Guzman toyed with him for six rounds, but a gallant effort simply rendered him a split decision defeat. Coming into the fight, Barrios could not make weight, causing questions of it was time to move up a division.

But the difference is that Barrios is a former champion. He viciously knocked out undefeated Mike Anchondo in April of 2005 to win his first title, and followed it up with a crippling body punch knockout of Janos Nagy, which was on the undercard of Juarez’s first bout with Barrera.

Now Rocky Juarez wants to taste the gold that Jorge Barrios has already savored. The dream he has worked his entire life for, the potential he has never reached, the obstacle he never could conquer. All the questions can be answered with a victory on September 6.

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