Neither fighter was seriously hurt in the less action-packed (compared to their first fight, at least) but still thrilling rematch, although Barrera staggered in the eleventh round with a series of combination from Manny Pacquiao and nearly hit the canvass.
It was another evening of dominating performance by Manny Pacquiao who now owns two wins against Barrera.
Pacquiao was the aggressor throughout the fight and was never hurt by Barrera who, from Round 4 onwards, began to dance away from Manny’s left straights.
Barrera showed, however, he still has some left of his illustrious boxing career by throwing combinations of his own. But these were not enough to derail Pacquiao who really has nothing to gain with his win but cement his place in the crowded lightweight class.
Barrera’s performance was, nonetheless, still classy for a fighter many considered in the twilight of his career. He showed the stamina and endurance a boxing great often give in their one big last fight.
He never gave Pacquiao the opportunity to land his vaunted big lefts by keeping distance.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, demonstrated his versatility by outboxing and outlasting the superbly conditioned Barrera.
Midway through the bout between Steve Forbes and Francisco Bojado in the undercard of the Pacquiao-Barrera rematch, I listed down several scenarios to watch. Guile and experience vs. speed and power. Manny’s stamina. Barrera’s heart when hurt. Who is now the hungrier fighter? Who wins the battle in spacing and crowding? Who has the more composure under fire? Of course, the manner of the victory whoever wins the fight.
I was tempted to go by the popular opinion that Manny will win the fight inside the distance. But in boxing, one lucky punch could end it all. Not that Barrera needs to knockout Manny in order to win. But the scribe in me said it won’t be over until it is over.
I thought the fight would be another classic Pacquiao conquest.
Barrera was first to enter the ring wearing a black cap and flaming red robe. Pacquiao was next in now his signature white robe. He did away with the white trunks he began wearing after a controversial draw with reigning World Boxing Council super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez. He was back in his flaming red shorts with white trimmings and patches as if to remind him of his first fight with Barrera. Barrera wore red trunks.
A quick prayer in the neutral corner and Manny was bouncing off his feet in the middle of the ring.
One thing Manny and Barrera have in common. They both wear a rosary around their necks every time they climb the ring in a display of deep religiousness.
Round by round
ROUND 1. Barrera threw a left hook to the body of Manny to open the round. Manny came back later with a right hook of his own to the body of Barrera. The two continued to measure each other. Surprisingly, Barrera stood in the center of the ring waiting for Manny to commit and unleash his counterpunches. Manny however went on to get his range. Manny connected with a lighting lead off left straight by Barrera responded with a right of his own. Manny’s round
ROUND 2. Barrera began to show the jabs and waited in the center of the ring for Manny to come in for the counterpunches. Manny missed with a left coming in and Barrera made him pay with a sweet left and right combination. The two are still waiting for what each would bring into the fight. Barrera’s round.
ROUND 3. Barrera continued to throw the jabs but Manny caught him with a left straight after a swift jab. Barrera countered with a right of his own. Round even.
ROUND 4. Barrera began to circle around Manny, getting out of range but Manny caught Barrera with a wicked left straight. Manny dug to the body but Barrera countered with his own body shots. The two exchanged hard leather in the center of the ring. Barrera landed the clearer shots. Manny now slowly finding his range. Barrera’s round.
ROUND 5. Manny got tagged with rights from Barera but he answered back with a series of flurry. Two furious exchanges ensued with Manny landing the more telling blows. Manny’s round.
ROUND 6. Manny landed two rights to the body of Barrera who was caught in the ropes. Showing his tremendous hand speed, Manny tagged Barrera with vicious combinations at the center of the ring. Manny landed the heavier punches. The most eventful round so far. Manny’s round.
ROUND 7. Not much action. Manny was bobbing and weaving trying to get the measure of Barrera who now was backpedaling. Even round.
ROUND 8. Barrera landed a left-right combination after a missed right jab from Manny. Manny fought back with one-two combinations. Barrrea landed three-punch combination later in the round. Manny connects with right-left at the end of round. Barrera’s round.
Round 9. Manny threw a right hook to the face of Barrera to begin the round. Manny drove Barrera to the rope with series of punches. Barrera danced away and landed shots of his own to counter Manny’s onslaught. Manny picked Barrera with left straights. Manny’s round.
Round 10. Barrera backpedaling, refusing to engage but Manny caught him with three-punch combination just before the round ends. Manny’s round
Round 11. Barrera was cut under the right eye. Manny stunned Barrera with a left straight in a furious exchange. Barrera hit Manny during the break with a right to the face. Manny was given a minute rest. Barrera got a point deduction. Manny’s round
Round 12. The two touched gloves at the center of the ring. They appeared ready to engage in a toe-to-toe combat but Barrera wisely danced away. Barrera was clearly no longer in the mood to exchange leather. Both fighters still appeared to be fresh. Round even.
Speaking with much improved English after the fight, Pacquiao said they expected Barrera to box and came prepared for it.
Acknowledging that Barrera is still a dangerous fighter, Manny said they were both in excellent condition but he was the better fighter.
Barrera, on the other hand, said he disproved skeptics by going the full length of the bout.
“Many said I won’t last three to four rounds,” he said in an interview.
More than anything else, however, Barrera’s guile was what saved him from another embarrassing defeat. It was clear in the ensuing after-fight interview that lasting the distance with arguably today’s pound for pound king was victory enough for him. He was hungry for redemption. And after the first three rounds, Barrera obviously realized that Manny came equally ready with what he had to offer. He began backpedaling although, to his credit, he matched Pacquiao’s stamina.
There is no question, however, that Manny was the heavier puncher and the more elusive target to hit.
Pacquiao also won in the battle of strategy. He anticipated most of Barrera’s counter by doing what he does best – darting in and out after delivering quick and hard combinations. He won the battle of spacing and crowding.
But in Round 11, Barrera showed a classless act. Right after he was nearly knocked down by lighting combinations, they clinched in the middle of the ring. Barrera uncorked an overhead right hook to face of Pacquiao who was clearly stunned after the referee came in to separate them. It was clearly a frustration punch and an illegal one at that.
That was probably the highlight of the fight. A frustrated Barrera unable to derail a speeding train in Manny.
By conquering Barrera in another dominating fashion, Pacquiao showed the world that his previous victories could be as sweet as any knockout.
Barrera clearly showed he did not have the heart to get even by refusing to engage Manny in a telephone booth slug out to avenge his most devastating defeat. But his performance suggests that against fighters with lesser speed, power and accuracy as Manny, he still can give them a good fight and even win against them.
In winning in a convincing fashion over Barrera, Manny left no doubt he was the better man even against a well-focused opponent.
With his victory over Barrera, all there is left for Manny is Marquez, with whom he fought to a controversial draw.
Manny now is definitely the man in the super featherweight class.