We remember the victory of Marco Antonio Barrera over Naseem Hamed, who established the Mexican as one of the best pound for pound.
When talking about the great triumphs of Mexican boxing, many remember the victory of Salvador Sánchez on Wilfredo Gómez, the of Julio César Chávez on Meldrick Taylor and the knockout of Juan Manuel Márquez against Manny Pacquiao, and it’s OK. However, we should undoubtedly include the triumph that 20 years ago Marco Antonio Barrera starred over Naseem Hamed.
There could be many reasons why many fans do not recognize that triumph, that if it only happened live in pay-per-view in Mexico, that if Barrera did not enjoy the media attention of other Mexican boxing figures, that if everyone believed that Marco He was to be one more victim of the great Hamed, but there is also reason to believe that this triumph has the capacity to be considered among the greats.
Ricardo Maldonado Jr., then Marco Antonio’s promoter, believes that Barrera, and also Érik Morales, were affected by the depression on broadcast television in Mexico due to boxing. “Both Barrera and Morales were forged in the absence of Mexican open television. Their fights were seen more in the United States than in Mexico, ”the promoter highlighted.
In the betting, Barrera was down 3-1. The previous year he had lost to Erik Morales and was also moving up the division after a solid campaign at super bantamweight. Hamed was coming off winning 15 world championship fights in a row, including matches against opponents such as Manuel ‘Mantecas’ Medina, Kevin Kelley, Wilfredo Vázquez, Wayne McCullough and César Soto. Marco’s record was 52-3 with 28 knockouts and Naseem’s 35-0 with 31 knockouts at the bell.
“Nobody believed that Marco could win,” Maldonado recalled. And Barrera, who knew against everything, had no choice but to leap forward and execute the strategy that he had forged in the gym with ‘Rudy’ Pérez in the gym. And so they left, responding to each blow, attacking each trick with its respective trick, but always trying to be more in everything, physically, technically, mentally.
At stake was the linear featherweight championship and Barrera shined, endured Hamed’s powerful punch, was close to sending him to the canvas, hitting him one, two and even three jabs in a row. He even once pushed him against the corner as cops sometimes do on suspects while Joe Cortez did his best to maintain order in the MGM Grand ring. In the end, the cards went to the pride of Iztacalco after 12 episodes by 115-112, 116-111 and 115-112, knocking Hamed undefeated.
“Without a doubt it must have been my best fight in the ring,” Barrera recalled a few days ago in a talk with ESPN KNOCKOUT. And yes, it was his most important triumph. After that, Barrera established himself as one of the best pound for pound.
Barrera took revenge on Morales, also defeating Enrique Sánchez, Johnny Tapia and Kevin Kelley, before colliding with Manny Pacquiao for the first time, while Naseem fought once more, a year later, and did not return to the ring. They are both already in the Hall of Fame.