As the underdog going up against the reigning and vastly more experienced champion, Rocky aptly came into the arena with “The Eye of the Tiger” blaring over the sound system, while Barrera came in with the enthusiastic crowd cheering at a louder volume than his own theme song could be raised to.
Once the bell sounded that set these two warriors into action, they met in the center of the ring, and tossed out soft jabs in an attempt to see what the other could counter-punch with. Since neither of them were biting, they circled each other around the ring, until Barrera tossed out the first meaningful attack in the form of two left uppercuts that missed their target. It was Juarez, however, who had the first punch score in the minds of the judges when he tossed out a right cross, landing it flush on Barrera’s face.
In round two, Rocky came out the busier fighter landing jabs both to the head and body of Barrera, even pushing the Baby-Faced Assassin back against the ropes. However, once a toe-to-toe battle ensued there, the four-time champ used his expertise to switch positions with Juarez, and ended the round by landing a clean right cross flush on his opponent’s head.
With both fighters meeting once again in the center of the ring to begin round three, the smaller Juarez leaped across to his opponent to land a left hook upstairs forcing blood out of Barrera’s nose. Barrera attempted a counter strike moments later only to be met with a stiff left by Juarez. Ten seconds before the round ended, Juarez caught Barrera with a crushing left hook upstairs, putting Barrera off balance and in trouble. As the bell sounded, Juarez sealed the round by landing another left to his opponent’s head, getting the attention and earning the respect of Barrera.
The Baby-Faced Assassin came out stronger in round four landing a monstrous uppercut on Juarez’ chin, and continued the attack until Juarez wisely clinched his attacker. The remainder of the round had both fighters taking their battle into a phone booth landing quick, crisp shot to the side of their heads and ribs. One of Barrera’s left hooks ventured too low, but Juarez was able to continue without penalty or postponement of the round.
Juarez used the fifth round to successfully avoid Barrera’s offensive attack, allowing the Silver Medalist to time his opponent perfectly, and land hard counter shots that found their desired target. Barrera put out more jabs in the closing moments of the round, allowing him to follow up with blistering left hooks to inflict damage on Juarez’ ribs.
As Barrera came out more aggressively in the opening moments of round six, it was Juarez that scored the more telling blows by a stick-and-move approach. Too often Juarez attempted to land a swinging left hook by leaping off his feet, and Barrera easily avoided those shots. However, the Baby-Faced Assassin was unable to effectively counter. Barrera got the crowd on their feet when he started a huge flurry of punches in the form of rib-cracking left hooks and head snapping rights and uppercuts on his opponent. Juarez countered with a nice left hook upstairs, but disappointedly the bell sounded to keep the exciting action from going any further.
Most of the seventh round was once again fought on the inside, with both fighters resting their heads on each other’s shoulders, and tossing out punishing hooks to the head and ribs of one another. Barrera seemed to get the better of the exchanges throughout the round, especially when he landed a left and right hook combination that landed flush on the sides of Rocky’s face as the seventh drew to a close.
In round eight, Juarez finally gained the respect of the crowd, and with them chanting his name for the first time in the fight, Juarez pressed the action and landed shots that dislodged Barrrea’s mouthpiece onto the canvas. It was apparent at this point in the fight that any discrepancy in Juarez’ experience was not going to play a role in his fight against Barrera.
Rocky countered beautifully in round nine, landing monstrous hooks upstairs that sprayed Barrera’s sweat across ring and onto the lucky ticket holders in the first two rows. Juarez continued to time Barrera impeccably throughout the entire round, landing flush hooks upstairs at every feint or punch Barrera attempted.
Juarez once again pressed the action in the tenth frame by using his jabs and soft hooks to allow him to follow up with more meaningful hooks both upstairs and down, even surprising Barrera with a head-snapping uppercut halfway into the round. With less than a minute left, Rocky tossed out two lead jabs, and landed a monstrous right cross to the side of Barrera’s face, forcing him to reel back into the corner of the ring, and making the Baby-Faced Assassin the Bloody-Faced Assassin temporarily.
Juarez continued where he left off in round eleven, this time going downstairs to punish Barrera’s ribs in an attempt to lower the guard of Barrera, and allowing Rocky to cause more damage to Barrera’s morphing face. That strategy seemed to work, and as the round came to a close, Juarez landed huge hooks upstairs, finally closing the left eye of Barrera. Being the warrior that he is, Barrera decided to go toe-to-toe against Juarez, putting up a great defense. However, Juarez used his strength to land more punishment upstairs on Barrera.
In the final round, Juarez made every attempt to take the fight out of the judges’ hands, swinging hard shots towards Barrera’s increasingly weary-looking head. Barrera was able to keep Juarez at bay for most of the round by landing left and right hooks to Rocky’s ribs, but the final ten seconds had Juarez landing the more damaging blows in the form of two crushing right hooks on the top of Barrera’s head.
After 36 minutes of hard-fought action, Michael Buffer announced to the crowd the following scores: 115-113 a piece, and 114-114 by judge Ken Morita, making the 12-round battle between Barrera and Juarez a draw. However, it was determined moments later that Morita’s scorecard was added up wrong by the Commission, and with Morita scoring the twelfth round 10-10, instead of 10-9 for Juarez as it was first thought, Barrera officially won the fight by split decision. Barrera keeps his title and earns the record of 62-4 (42 KO’s), while Juarez goes to 25-2 (18 KO’s).