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The Great Boxing Trilogy That Was Barrera v Morales!

Tracey Langley

Tracey lives in England, UK. She travels to the big fight nights in Las Vegas and has been attending Floyd Mayweather fights for the best part of 20 years – that’s a lot of air miles. She watches boxing from the United States live and she follows the UK Scene.

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The great boxing trilogy, for me, the first one that springs to mind is of course Barrera v Morales, two Mexican greats who always fought with passion and gave it their all when gloved up. Here’s their first fight, go grab a bottle of Corona Extra and a bowl of Totrilla’s…….

Their first fight was a professional boxing match between the three division and reigning WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Marco Antonio Barrera and reigning WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Erik Morales. The fight took place on 19th February 2000 at the world famous Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Morales won the fight by a split decision with two judges scoring it 114-113 and 115-112 for Morales and the other scoring it 114-113 for Barrera. The fight was named The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year for 2000 and has been regarded as the best fight ever by many people.

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The fight is the first match in the highly regarded “Barrera v Morales Trilogy” and this has also been regarded as the most technical fight out of the lot. Many people thought that Barrera should have had the victory and was a very controversial decision. The fight was televised on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” programme.

Barrera had been the WBO Super Bantamweight Champion in the mid 1990’s. Morales was undefeated and he had won the WBC Super Bantamweight Title by knocking out Daniel Zaragoza in eleven rounds in 1997. Morales was the first person to knock out Zaragoza and promoters soon began making arrangements for a bout between the WBC and the WBO Super Bantamweight Title holders.

Morales’s record was an impressive 35-0 and he had defeated big names including Junior Jones who defeated Barrera twice in 1996 and 1997. He won his title in 1997 and had made 8 defences prior to this fight. Barrera’s only 2 losses came against Junior Jones once by disqualification and the other by unanimous decision. He won his title by defeating Richie Wenton with a fourth round TKO on the 31st October 1998 and had made two defences prior to this.

This is how the fight unfolded……the first round began with Barrera leading with his trademark left hook to the body and throwing combinations. Morales’s tall lanky frame was providing an easy target against which to test Marco’s attack. Barrera is fierce, while Morales stands his ground, throwing back punishing combinations using his killer right hand to punctuate them. The referee cautions Morales on a seemingly low blow towards the end of the round and Barrera refuses to touch gloves to Morales’s apology.

Round two begins at a slightly slower pace but soon picks up. Barreras combos starts flowing while Morales deems it wise to counter Marco’s violent onslaught by being even more violent himself. A particularly impressive combination from Barrera started with the job followed by the right hand cross and then the left-hand uppercut that pushes upwards and backwards Morales’s head. It was clear that Barrera won rounds one and two since Morales was still struggling to match his opponent’s level of intensity. There was great counterpunching from Barrera in round three and when Morales plunges in he gets caught with Barrera’s left hook to the body which stops him temporarily in his tracks. But then “El Terrible” reacts and comes back even fiercer, throwing three punch combinations to the head then taking a step to the side and doing it all over again. All the while Barrera keeps his defence up and then goes on the attack himself. In round four, Morales lands a huge right hand on Barrera and then falls victim to his own over-enthusiasm as he loses balance while trying to land heavy.

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All the while Barrera keeps his defense up and then goes on the attack himself. In round four, Morales lands a huge right hand on Barrera, and then falls victim to his own over-enthusiasm, as he loses balance while trying to land heavy shots and hits the floor on a slip. Barrera quickly recovers. There’s a sense that Barrera’s experience is carrying him through, while Morales is still trying to adapt to being on such a big stage with such a highly skilled enemy in the ring. As they trade ripping shots after three minutes, round four goes to Morales. And then there was round five………

This is as epic a round as any in boxing history in which neither fighter hit the canvas. Barrera hurts Morales with a flush right hand who steps back against the ropes and then fights Marco off. Towards the middle of the round its’ Morales who takes the initiative landing all sorts of hooks and uppercuts on Barrera making him step back. Morales throws over 20 punches with hardly any response from Barrera, he looks hurt but Barrera still has his hands held up blocking some shots. After the half minute attack by Morales when Barrera was almost against the ropes something suddenly lights up in him. Marco throws a hook to the body, steps around Morales and sends him back against the ropes after landing a monstrous right hand flush on Erik’s face. He lands a series of ripping punches which hurt Morales not only by their power but by their unexpectedness and there’s still a full minute to go in the round. The Mandalay Bay erupts!

After a little breather by both, Morales starts his attack again, later Barrera lands a punch after the referee had indicated a break, Marco doesn’t even attempt an apology. The ten second warning gives new life to the fighters, as they trade shots once more but back in the action at the start of six, the pace slows down some. It just had to but not for long, as Morales takes the initiative once again and keeps punishing Barrera with his powerful right hand. The previous round seems to have taken more out of Marco than of Erik and in round seven we again see Barrera’s masterful left hook to the body, which surprises Morales and makes him step back. The commentator mentions in passing that these guys’ punches probably hurt “like the kick of a mule.” Uppercuts by Marco and uppercuts from Morales. The fighters are more stationary now, inside an imaginary phone booth and they may not move around as much but there’s still punches aplenty.

Morales’s back hits the ropes as Barrera punches him square in the face with the right, but then “El Terrible” comes on, throwing hooks and killer uppercuts to fight Barrera off. Wow it’s action packed!! Barrera looks more tired than Morales at this point and he is the more experienced and probably the more skilled of these two, but he is also the older one. Nevertheless, he lands at least three major punches on Morales as the round ends.

Marco Antonio Barrera

In round number eight Morales seems to be more active, but both land serious blows. Barrera’s edge on experience comes to light towards the end of the round as if by reflex, when he tries to steal the round with a wild barrage of punches, the stronger of which land cleanly on Morales. Erik looks somewhat frustrated in round nine, he has thrown everything he has at Barrera and still Marco is the one who momentarily stuns “El Terrible” within the first minute. The rest of the round Morales plays catch up and trying to pull ahead by overworking Barrera. Erik tries his looping hard right hand over the top which he may have picked up on his win over living Mexican legend Daniel Zaragoza, in what was his biggest win at the time. Barrera may still have stolen the round in the final seconds with his violent, commonly late rally.

In round ten it’s more of the same which means we get some more intense action, fight fans are loving it. Barrera may be fading a little, but he remains game and always ready to punish Morales when he becomes too careless. Barrera looks weak on the legs towards the last minute but then comes back and almost drops Morales. “El Terrible” fights back though, punching wildly at Barrera to back him off. This is one of those fights that should go on until only one man is left standing.

This kind of fight should not have to be decided by something as irrelevant as three scorecards. Round eleven is Morales’s round, as he outworks Barrera, landing big right hands that stun Marco. Still, Barrera counterpunches, going strong against Morales’s body, making him bend a little more noticeably in pain as he feels those hooks to the ribs. But Morales was the busier fighter in this round and in between rounds. We get a close-up of Barrera’s face, which shows a cut below the left eye, a product of Morales’s hard straight right hands.

As the final round begins, they touch gloves at the centre of the ring, Barrera nods in acknowledgment of “El Terrible’s” performance so far. There’s nothing but respect between these two at this point but respect quickly turns to urgency from both fighters. As the commentators speak of the possibility and probably the fairness of the bout being scored a draw, Barrera and Morales trade vicious shots as if trying to avoid the fight going the distance. They sense the scores are close and they sense the end is near but neither wants to leave anything to chance, they both want the knockout. It’s Barrera who lands more and better punches after the initial whirlwind of activity, Morales steps back and decides all of a sudden to box a little.

Marco’s punches must feel even harder than they seem. “El Terrible” gets his confidence back and goes on the offensive and Marco plays counterpuncher. He uses his experience to win the territorial battle, trading shots when he wants to. Barrera hurts Morales with 45 seconds left in the round and he lands one of his left hooks on Morales’s chin, who backs up against the ropes. Morales holds on though and the ropes support him. He then quickly steps to the side trying to slip and duck while Marco is on the attack. Erik survives, he’s still standing and still moving. Then the referee decides to stir up controversy, as he rules a knockdown on what was mostly a slip by Morales with half a minute to go. Erik, who shows an abrasion and blood below his right eye, cannot believe it.

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As the referee does the count, an upset Erik shakes his head and when the action resumes Morales is on speed. Time is running out and he just lost a point on the fake knockdown, so he throws his favourite punch, the straight right, which lands flush on Barrera’s face. He smothers Barrera with activity and with eighteen seconds left on the clock Barrera fights Morales off with his left hand. They exchange punches mercilessly until the final bell was rung.

Morales won the fight by a split decision with two judges scoring it 114-113 and 115-112 for Morales and the other scoring it 114-113 for Barrera. The fight was named The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year for 2000 and has been regarded as the best fight ever by many people.

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Stay tuned for round 2 – the second fight, coming soon!

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