Meeting ex-world champ Barrera in the flesh
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
I BELIEVE you watched the World Boxing Organization (WBO) light flyweight title fight on TV two Saturdays ago between defending champion Filipino Donnie Nietes and WBO minimum weight titlist Mexican Moises Fuentes held at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City. It ended in a disgusting majority draw verdict that produced howls from the Fuentes camp who claim they were robbed of victory.
I was there at the Waterfront Hotel with my son Moses to watch the fight and my scorecard also said it was a draw. Not contented, I watched the replay on TV when I went home Sunday evening and realized — without bias — that the guy from Mexico had won the fight, echoing the judgment of some boxing experts that I have talked to. Since the decision of the judges is final, the best way to solve the dispute is to stage a rematch as what the Fuentes camp is fervently asking for. They’re amenable to hold it in Manila or in Mexico City when I talked to them at the Fuentes dressing room minutes after the fight.
An hour after arriving at our billeting area in Osmeña Avenue, I called up my Mexican friend, a member of the Fuentes camp, Michael Lopez. He excitedly told me that the famous three-time world champion Marco Antonio Barrera of Mexico was in town to watch the fight and to give his ward Fuentes moral support. Lopez said the ‘Hall of Fame’ recipient Barrera would be at the Cebu City’s SM Mall at 1:00 p.m. on March 1 to watch the weigh-in of the two protagonists and urged me to attend. And it was there where I finally met Barrera for the first time. We shook hands and because of his good looking and macho figure with tantalizing smile, I told him: “Marco, you are mucho guapo.” He quickly replied with a teasing smile, “Yes, because I’m a Mexican,” drawing a big laugh from the people around us. I also asked him how he finds the Philippines and without thinking twice he promptly answered, “Oh, mucho bonito.”
MEETING BARRERA—The PUNCH columnist Jess Garcia Jr. meets
Mexico’s three-time former world featherweight boxing champion
Marco Antonio Barrera who came to Cebu City to watch the Donnie Nietes
vs. Moises Fuentes WBO light flyweight championship fight held March 2. (Punchphoto)
After all the fighters completed their weigh-in, a press conference was held and I was assigned to ask the first question. I asked him what his prediction would be if a fifth encounter between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez were held. He said he cannot predict the outcome of the fight because the two, Pacquiao and Marquez, are great and the best fighters today. Then evening of the same day (March 1) when all of us scribes were asked to attend a dinner party hosted by Barrera himself at Parklane Hotel at the heart of the city’s Ayala Avenue, I met Barrera again and, believe it or not, after learning from Lopez that my father was a Mexican from Burgos, Mexico, one of his aides called me and my son Moses to join them in their dinner table. I confirmed from him that Mexico’s number one sport is football and boxing landing second. He also told me that he’s already a family man with four kids, three boys and a girl, and despite the numerous accolades and respect that he already earned, he doesn’t want his boys to follow in his footsteps because boxing is really a torturing sport.
I cannot blame him because that’s very true. Not a few boxers died inside the ring during a fight due to brain hemorrhage caused by powerful punches.
After the dinner, a lot of queries were asked by some national sports scribes and one of us asked him if he regretted fighting Pacquiao and being beaten twice, first via technical knockout and the second was via unanimous decision. He humbly and politely said, “I did not regret that I lost to Pacquiao because at least I was beaten by the best of all the bests in the world.” “Pacquiao is now a good friend of mine and I hope he will win his fight against Marquez the next time around,” he added.
He also explained that the devastating defeat of Pacquiao against Marquez last December was a “lucky punch” and if that did not happen, the outcome of the fight would have been different, definitely a victory for Pacquiao. He also said that world super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. is his good friend and they had gone out together with their families last Christmas season. He told us that Donaire is a very good and strong boxer and predicts that the guy from General Santos City will be the next boxing hero of the Philippines.
I believe him. That’s also the forecast of many boxing virtuosos. I hope he’ll win his fight against Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux next month. And lastly, asked if he has a plan to make a comeback, Barrera, now 38, said he will only fight again if the promoter gives him a topnotch opponent in his weight like Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan or even Pacquiao.
It was nice meeting him.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. MATTHEW 24: 4-5, 11, 23-24.