Pay-per-view wrap-up

By Jake Emen


Pay-per-view wrap-up

With a great lineup of fights filled with exciting fighters and potentially thrilling match-ups, Saturday night’s pay-per-view show headlined by the rematch between Marco Antonio Barrera and Rocky Juarez did not disappoint. The crowd was packed with the stars of the sport, as the heads of Golden Boy Promotions and consensus pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather were all ringside and in clear view. By the time the two star contestants finally entered the ring, my thirst for boxing had already been quenched.

Some may say that Barrera’s victory over Juarez was boring, dull and slow-paced. But after three heart pounding bouts, the masterful display of boxing and ring tactics- more reminiscent of his partner Bernard Hopkins than of himself- was more than enough to cap off a great night and provide an interesting contrast to what was already seen.

The show, billed “Too Close To Call”, began with what was touted as merely a “showcase” fight for Jorge Paez Jr., in his eleventh professional appearance. Derrick Campos was supposedly a hand picked opponent that would offer little resistance. Team Paez picked wrong. Campos came out lively, swinging wildly for the fences and he managed to catch Paez with several big shots in the first round. Paez then showed his pedigree by putting Campos on the canvas in the second, but also showed his age – all of 18 years – as he let his guard down and was badly hurt by an angered and still dangerous Campos. As the final seconds of the fourth and final round ticked off, the pedigree didn’t help as Paez Jr. tasted the canvas and barely stood up to survive the final bell. Although the fight should have been scored a draw, the surprisingly entertaining match-up was given to the big-name prospect.

The second fight of the evening was perhaps the most highly anticipated other than the main event, Jorge Barrios vs. Joan Guzman. Barrios came into the bout, as colorful as ever, with a bit of an underground following due to his all-action style. Guzman, coming up from featherweight and largely unknown, was the underdog although he brought an undefeated record into the fight. The drama began at the weigh-in the day before, as Barrios came in several pounds heavier than the 130-pound limit, and reports turned up that he had already lost between 10 and 15 pounds this week.

After the highly publicized incidents involving Jose Luis Castillo, who twice failed to make weight for fights against Diego Corrales – and on a night that was dedicated to the memory of the late lightweight champion Leavander Johnson, who died after fighting in the very same ring one year earlier, it may be time to either switch weigh-ins back to the morning of the fight, or time to start taking a hard stance by issuing huge fines when fighters come in overweight. Showing up overweight is disrespectful, unprofessional and dangerous, and if you know you can’t make that weight, you shouldn’t sign a contract to fight there. It’s that simple.

But that’s not to take away from the fight itself, which was quite entertaining. As the fight began, my thoughts about Guzman were, “Fast! He is really, really fast!” It was clear in the opening seconds of the fight that his speed and tactical advantages would be huge for the remainder of the evening. After trading at a torrid pace the fight settled down, although Guzman seemed happy to brawl despite his boxing skills. It did however become clear that Guzman would have an easy time countering Barrios and his big, albeit slow, shots.

As the fight continued to develop, it also became clear that the two men just plain disliked each other. Both men were in that ring to try to run right through the other and were focused on the task at hand. In the fifth round, referee Vic Drakulich took a point away from Barrios for seemingly nonexistent low blows.

Although, as the fight came to the championship rounds it looked like the point deduction would not matter, as Guzman took and maintained control of the fight and won most of the rounds, the point in question actually had an impact on the decision. The official scorecards read 115-112 and 114-113 for Guzman, and 114-113 for Barrios. Had the point not been deducted, it would have been a draw, and Guzman would not have won the vacant WBO belt. So a fight that began in controversy, ended with it as well, however the two enemies earned each other’s respect and displayed it with a very sportsmanlike hug to start the twelfth round.

I scored the fight 116-111 for Guzman, so I find the 114-113 scoring for Barrios to be quite ridiculous and off base. However, I will admit that I am unabashedly a huge Joan Guzman fan. He came to the fight in magnificent shape; he has power in both hands, speed, boxing skills, an exciting style and a cast-iron chin to boot. He should be favored against anybody not named Manny Pacquiao at 130 lbs, and even there the fight should be a pick-em, as well as a cant-miss affair.

The third and final bout before the main event provided the best comeback you will see this side of Corrales/Castillo I. Both fighters came into this bout riding high – Gonzalez with a more than legitimate claim at Fighter of the Year honors with a victory, and Vazquez having won the series of fights against Oscar Larios. At first, the match played out according to their stat lines.

The tall and lengthy Gonzalez used his size and reach to keep the shorter Vazquez at bay. He relentlessly worked his jab and was able to put Vazquez down on two separate occasions. Although Vazquez was not badly hurt by either, it almost seemed like a lost cause as Gonzalez and his jab were just too much for the smaller man. Without the head and body movement needed to get inside, and with Jim Lampley ranting and raving about the spelling of “Jhonny” it seemed the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

However, after putting Vazquez down for the second time, Gonzalez abandoned what made him so effective and began trading on the inside. Vazquez quickly took advantage of the complacent Gonzalez, who was also possibly suffering from swallowing blood due to bleeding from his nose, and badly hurt him while knocking him down. In the 10th Vazquez knocked Gonzalez down again, and while he waited on his knees to get up, the look in his eyes was of a different foregone conclusion. Gonzalez was done, and his corner knew it and appropriately threw in the towel to save their fighter from further punishment. Israel Vazquez proved to the world that his heart may stand taller than he does, and he is a truly worthy champion that should continue to be shown in televised bouts.

And so finally the main event of the evening, Barrera vs. Juarez II! After talk of not being in shape for the first fight, Barrera showed up on Saturday night looking truly cut, and in the best shape he could possibly be in. Although leading up to the fight, Barrera repeatedly had said there was nothing personal here, the look in his eyes, and the taunting during the fight that followed, proved otherwise. Barrera was here tonight to remind everybody that though he may have plans to retire soon, he is not retired yet, and he is still a force to be reckoned with.

Barrera came out working his jab very effectively. Juarez, who promised to start earlier and be busier, was left with a look like he knew he needed to do just that, but for whatever reason he just could not seem to pull the trigger. In rounds three and four Juarez attempted to get inside more, however instead of throwing combinations he seemed happy to wrestle with Barerra on the ropes. The look in his eyes of needing to do more was soon replaced by one rapidly closing right eye, and a left eye that seemed to ask just what exactly he was in for this evening, and who was this man staring him down, taunting him and popping his jab across the ring was.

After so much action already taking place this evening, the crowd booed heavily as Barrera stuck to his game plan, and boxed, boxed, boxed. Juarez would have no answer for the display of boxing intelligence and execution, and Barrera continued to dominate throughout the end of the fight. Although the scorecards were closer than expected - two showing 115-113 – Barerra came away victorious, face unscathed and with his eyes seemingly set on a Manny Pacquiao rematch before retirement.


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