COMMENTARY | Last December when Mexican legend, Juan Manuel Marquez scored his thrilling sixth round knockout over arch-rival Manny Pacquiao, the crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas exploded. Even the Mexican broadcast team jumped out of their seats in excitement. But there was one person who remain seated, one person who sat stone-faced in his chair. That man was Marco Antonio Barrera, three-division world champ and Marquez's fellow Mexican ring legend.
Barrera, who was providing color commentary for TV Azteca, looked to be seething as Marquez leaped on the ropes to celebrate the marquee victory of his long, distinguished career. Even for those who weren't Marquez fans coming into the bout, the raw emotion of the event was truly moving.
Marco Antonio Barrera wasn't moved, though. As his broadcast partners shouted themselves hoarse, Barrera remained silent, shuffling papers on a ringside table and staring blankly into the swirling chaos of the post-fight ring.
To this day, the future hall of famer seems less than thrilled by the win and reluctant to give his countryman any sort of real credit for the KO.
Visiting the Philippines for the first time, Barrera, who lost twice to Pacquiao during his storied career, charmed the host nation and had nothing but nice things to say about the Filipino fans, fighters, and their iconic eight-division world champ. However, that gracious tone and gentlemanly demeanor didn't extend to Juan Manuel Marquez.
"It really surprised me because I know Pacquiao is strong," Barrera told the Filipino media, referring to Marquez's KO victory. "But Marquez is not greater than Pacquiao. He's just got lucky during the fight. If the knockout didn't happen, I think the result can go either way."
Barrera would even go so far as to insinuate that something other than hard work and dedication was involved in the stoppage.
"Marquez doesn't have power. I don't know what happened. Everybody can see the difference of the Marquez today and the Marquez of the past...Maybe he has a very good doctor," Barrera said, making a reference to Marquez's strength and conditioning coach, Angel Heredia, who had admitted to supplying performance enhancing drugs to his clients in the past.
The rivalry between Barrera and Marquez is well known in Mexico and goes above and beyond the natural competitiveness that exists between two fighters with so much in common. The seething bad feelings boiled over in a contentious 2007 battle which saw Marquez win via unanimous decision and take Barrera's WBC super featherweight title.
With neither fighter gracious in victory nor defeat and a rematch always out of reach for one reason or another, the bad blood between the two went unresolved and settled into backstage nastiness.
Barrera, who felt that he had done enough to beat Marquez, would be forced to sit back and stew in his misery while Marquez's star grew and began to produce the type of paydays that Barrera had truly lusted after in his prime. Marquez was becoming a media darling and Barrera, always a proud, but stubborn man, apparently had a tough time sharing the stage with "another" Mexican legend. He shared it begrudgingly with arch-rival, Erik Morales, but Marquez was a different story.
And now that Marquez has finally scored a decisive win in the Marquez-Pacquiao series, talk is swirling about Marquez being considered the greatest Mexican fighter of all-time or, at the very least, one of the sacred three, alongside Julio Cesar Chavez and Salvador Sanchez. This can't sit well with "The Baby Faced Assassin."
Considering that Barrera's run as a main stage fighter has been over since back-to-back losses to Marquez and Pacquiao in 2007, the semi-retired fan favorite will just have to keep his ill will under wraps. His famed aggression will have to be limited to occasional anti-Marquez potshots issued to the media, like those he launched in The Philippines.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Sources: Philstar.com, Sunstar.com
- Sports & Recreation
- Marco Antonio Barrera
- Juan Manuel Marquez
- Manny Pacquiao