Marco Antonio Barrera: It's Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away

By Michael Gonzalez


Marco Antonio Barrera: It's Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away

Marco Antonio Barrera concluded his certain hall of fame career last Saturday in a rematch with Filipino idol Manny Pacquiao.  While both burst onto the scene gaining attention with their vicious, face first aggressive styles, this match was much more boxing than brawling.  Pacquiao beat Barrera at his own game, not leading but rather playing counterpuncher against the counterpuncher - a la Barrera against Naseem Hamed, a fight where Barrera made a conscious choice to rely on his boxing skills, and also conserve his body for a long career.  And as Pacquiao continues to climb in weight, he may see the need to do the same against guys he won't just be able to go through.


It was a passing of the torch (maybe a little bit, work with me.)  Pacquiao may still be on the burn out mode, but Barrera had chosen to fade away long ago, extending his career.


However, the fans came to see raucous, which is what won them over in the first place.  It's like the movie Teen Wolf where the basketball games were at capacity not to see the championship game, but to see Teen Wolf tear it up.  In last weeks fight, neither wolf showed up.


Many Mexican fans and media were disappointed to see Barrera not put it on line in the last couple of rounds of a fight he was losing, even after sappy monologues from his corner in the last fight of his career.  Whereas Erik Morales always fought hard, eventually leading to a war ravished body and some would say early retirement, he will forever have a spot in the hearts of fans that followed his career.  I understand these are humans beings we are talking about but you must also understand that they put themselves in this situation by making it their career.  It is this bravery that separates our sport as the best, where human will can trump talent and athleticism.  It's why fighters like Erik Morales and Arturo Gatti had such rabid support.

It immediately reminded me some lines of the Neil Young song Out of the Blue:

It’s better to burn out

Than to fade away

The king is gone

But he’s not forgotten

It could also be as Larry Merchant said during the telecast, "He'll say watch me when I was young."  In any case, as the song says, the king is gone but he’s not forgotten.

Kelly Pavlik - Tough Guy Not Afraid of the Moment Part 2

When Kelly Pavlik slugged out Edison Miranda I penned how he was a tough guy not afraid moment.  How he came in against a guy who was riding a huge wave of hype and popularity for his nastiness and crushing power.  And Pavlik came right on in and imposed himself, backing Miranda up with hard, straight shots between Miranda’s looping bombs.  Even when tasting that crunching power, Pavlik never doubted himself eventually shutting Miranda off against the ropes, forcing the ref to jump in and stop it. 

But this time he was facing a fellow that had gone twenty-four with boxing sage Bernard Hopkins, convincing judges (and not much else) that he had gotten the better, ending the future hall of famer’s middleweight world championship reign, the longest ever at twenty defenses.  That fellow, middleweight champ Jermain Taylor had fought to a draw with Ronald “Winky” Wright, also a future hall famer and collectively faced stiffer opposition than Pavlik, though both were undefeated. 

Taylor even had legendary trainer/psychologist Emmanuel Steward training him.  It was an old school secluded camp; Taylor’s first away from any petty distractions, where Steward was undefeated preparing pugs for world title scraps.  It was also their fourth fight together, plenty of time to at least have figured if it’s working out. (Some would argue that it wasn’t while others blamed the slick opposition for a so called regression.)  Taylor was also recognized as the faster and more athletic of the two and had uncharacteristically started to bad-mouth Pavlik along with Steward.

For his first world title shot, Pavlik’s camp was at home with trainer Jack Loew, also in his first world championship fight and with no other fighters of note in his stable. 

But Pavlik looked like a guy who flopped a royal flush being called all in on the river - no worries.

When they met in the ring they went right to it, launching leather as you would expect warriors vying for the distinction of best in the world.

And it was not pay-per-view.

They slammed into each other, each getting a chance to finish the other off.  Taylor's shot came in the second, where an overhand right put Pavlik in all kinds of trouble, knocking him down with a flurry of shots.  Pavlik got up on shaky legs and survived a half a round of ineffective flurries that left Taylor winded by the end of the round.  When Pavlik got his chance in the seventh after sending a stunned Taylor to the corner with a couple of hard rights, he unleashed such savage blows that Steve Smoger jumped in before Taylor hit the canvas.  We're talking a champion that had never been down forcing, I repeat, Steve Smoger to rush in. 

Where Taylor had struggled to put the finishing touch, Pavlik found his mark with angles and uppercuts.  Where other fighters lacked when sending a troubled Taylor to the corner, Pavlik prevailed.  It might have alot to do with Taylor not facing any top guys with big power. 

Kudos to Pavlik, he proved again that he is tough guy not afraid of the moment.  He rose from a near knock-out, never doubting himself, to dust off an impressive champ.

That being said, I still favor Taylor in a rematch.  He made some glaring mistakes (his hands were so low) that Pavlik was able to capitalize on, which should be correctable considering fighters learn much more in defeat than in victory.  The so called regression of Taylor stops here as he will now be hungry to learn and avoid losing - we shall see. 

Maybe Bob Arum, Pavlik's promoter, saw the same thing.  Arum has stated that he would like to take other fights and build up the rematch, or keep his star on a path that does not include Taylor.  However, Taylor does have a rematch clause that his team has yet to pounce.  I like Arum's version better. 


Promotional Prizefighting

While covering the Philippines vs. Mexico World Cup in Sacramento, my former colleague John Chavez commented how Golden Boy Promotions could have promoted better, considering the large Filipino and Mexican population in the region.  He prophesized how the Don King show on Showtime coming the next month would do the same or better, even with a dueling date against free HBO for the highly anticipated Taylor vs. Pavlik scrap.  Well he was wrong, just barely.  The Golden Boy card pulled in 4,469 while the Don King card 3,876.  However, the Don King card had a late replacement in the main event, went up against the aforementioned free (on HBO) bout and did not have huge ethnic angle to attract a crowd.  You apply your own formula here.


Send questions and comments to: