Hate is an understatement when it comes to how Erik Morales (Boxingtalk.com #6 P4P) feels about Marco Antonio Barrera. The ironic thing is that sometimes the best fights are sparked by two fighters having a strong hate for one another. I'm not talking about the pre-determined, over hyped, ticket selling hate that is often produced by promoters and fighters to generate interest in the public eye. Rather the fact that two guys just can't stand each other and couldn't care less what happens to one another once the bell rings, just as long someone gets a face full of leather.
So far Barrera and Morales have given boxing fans two great fights while also giving boxing one of its first true rivalries since Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali fought three decades ago.
Who said you had to like your opponent anyway?
The first fight took place at 122lbs, a weight that Morales has said was very difficult for him to make going in to the fight. Whatever the case, Barrera got the best of Morales in the eyes of most of the public that night, except of course the judges - who scored the bought for Morales.
This fight was boxings version of Gatti-Ward two years earlier, and due to the controversy surrounding the decision, it was a fight that boxing needed to do once more.
A couple years later Barrera and Morales met up at 126lbs, a weight that Morales felt more comfortable at. This fight was less of a brawl and more of a boxing match - one that saw Barrera winning a narrow decision. Once again, however, controversy found its way between the two warriors as many thought Morales did enough to the get the nod.
This Saturday boxing is getting what hopes to be the final meeting between Barrera and Morales, this time taking place at the jr. lightweight division.
One of the main differences with the third fight opposed to the first two is that Erik Morales seems to be the clear favorite, and why not? Morales has moved up in weight and taken on two former jr. lightweight champions in Jesus Chavez and Carlos Hernandez. He has continued to fight the best fighters out there, and just as he has done for 47 out of 48 professional fights, he’s finding a way to win.
Barrera’s record doesn’t look near as polished, especially after suffering defeat for the fourth time in his career this past year against hard hitting Manny Pacquiao. Not only was it a defeat, but Barrera was completely dominated and knocked out late in the fight - something Erik Morales has been fortunate enough to avoid.
Even with that said, boxing has never been a sport that is easy to predict. If we look at the rivalry between Ali and Frazier, the examples of why one should not count out the Baby Faced Assassian are endless. Ali struggled with Frazier in all three fights, despite winning two of the three. Meanwhile Frazier goes on to get starched by George Foreman twice and Ali knocks out Big George later on.
What this proves is that just because a fighter is coming off of a loss or a fight in which he didn't look to bring his A-game, doesn't mean that he has no shot at beating a fighter who has looked a lot better. Especially when you note the closeness of the two fights between Barrera and Morales and see that these guys have the style to be competative with each other each and every time out.
The third time should be a charm for boxing, just as the previous two fights have been. No matter who comes out with their hand raised.
NOT JUST BOXING, FOLKS - This past weekend a brawl took place between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. While I don't wish things of this nature to happen to any sport, it has been a breath of fresh air to see the media ripping a sport other than boxing. It just proves that boxing isn't the only sport that has had problems over the years. Just as boxing suspended Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield, I am in total agreement with the harsh penalties put down by the NBA's commisioner David Stern. The funny thing is, the NBA will be praised for its actions (and they should be) but boxing will still be looked at as a sport that doesn't do enough to those who need to be punished. Oh well. I guess we can't win them all.