Will Another Mexican Fighter Grow Old Overnight on July 2?
After Barrera and Morales, Is Larios Next?
07 Jun 2006
Manny Pacquiao's total annihilation of his opponents have sent retirement talks for the defeated boxers right after each fight.
On the eve of November 15, 2003, Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera was on top of the world and at the top of his game. He was considered then by most experts to be at the top 5 on the list for the world's top pound-for-pound boxers. AFter schooling and causing the retirement of the popular and flambouyant British featherweight champion Nassem Hamed in 2001 and winning the rematch against arch-enemy Erik Morales in 2002, Barrera's aura of invincibility was so strong that his opponent on that fateful day of November, the upstart and little known Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines had been given little or no chance at all to upset one of Mexico's most popular boxers.
But lo and behold how people's sentiments could change quickly. After Pacquiao administered to Barrera a total beatdown before a completely shocked boxing audience that reverberated throughout the boxing world, many experts, the same experts who sung praises on Barrera to the high heavens before the fight, had completely changed course and immediately declared after the fight that in fact Barrera has now not only reached his plateau but has actually grown old. Not a few had suggested that Barrera should immediately retire.
Since then however, Marco Antonio Barrera has made a comeback worthy of his stature and claimed back his position among the world's boxing elites with noteworthy wins against former world champion Paulie Ayala and winning titles against a rubber match with Erik Morales and Robbie Peden of Australia. Though many fans and experts have been clamoring for a second serving of Barrera vs Pacquiao, there is this gnawing feeling that a rematch will produce the same result as the first, especially with Barrera's performance against Rocky Juarez in his last fight.
Erik Morales was the hands down favorite during his rematch with Pacquiao last January. Morales defeated Pacquiao in their first meeting on March 19, 2005. Though Morales was defeated by Zahir Raheem on September, 2005 and he was also defeated by Barrera in 2004, no one doubts Erik's capability to defeat Pacquiao the second time. Erik's defeat against Raheem was considered a fluke and Erik's three fights with Barrera were always close that any of the three fights could have gone either way.
Using the same technique in boxing Manny Pacquiao similar to what Juan Manuel Marquez used to "expose" Pacquiao in an earlier fight, Morales had completely befuddled Pacquiao in their first meeting holding the fiery Filipino at bay all night long. Additionally, by weathering Pacquiao's bombs in the first fight, Morales had reaffirmed his reputation as one who has the business's hardest chins.
So when the stage was set for the rematch between Pacquiao and Morales, Pacquiao's journey back to oblivion had been trumpetted from all over. Morales is simply bigger, taller, stronger, wiser, more experienced and what have you. "A good bigger fighter will always win against a good smaller fighter," said one scribe. "Morales will beat Pacquiao 10 out 10 fights," said another.
So when Pacquiao did the unthinkable again, sending Morales to the canvas for the first time in Morales' career and bringing the Mexican warrior into total submission after 10 rounds, again, many had said that Morales has now grown old and should retire.
Morales however has chosen a diferrent path from Barrera. Barrera have fights with other boxers before contemplating of getting back at Pacquiao. Morales, true to his reputation as a Mexican warrior, wanted to immediately get back at his tormentor. A rubber match between Pacquiao and Morales has now been scheduled on November 18 this year. This fight was seen by many as less compeling because of the beatdown Morales had received from Pacquiao from the last fight and Morales' big problem of making the 130 lbs. weight limit.
Now comes Oscar "Chololo" Larios, who will challenge Pacquiao on July 2 in Manila.
Larios (56-4-1 36 KOs), was the holder of the WBC super bantam title from May, 2002 to December, 2005 with notable wins against Israel Vasquez, Marcos Licona, Willie Jorrin, Nedal Hussein and Wayne McCullough (twice) along the way. When Pacquiao held the IBF super bantam title in 2002 and 2003, the fight with Larios was one of the most compelling unification title fight in boxing that never happened.
Larios overwhelms his opponent with the volume of his punches and never appear tired in doing so. But now at 29 years old, and fighting for the first time at 130 lbs, many have questioned if Larios will have the stamina to go against the Filipino firebrand. Additionally, Larios lost by TKO in the 3rd round against regular Pacquiao sparring mate Israel Vasquez in route to losing his title. Many have indeed voiced their apprehension that the fight against Pacquiao is too risky a fight for Larios to take at this stage of his career.
If Barrera and Morales turned old overnight against the rampaging Filipino, what will the July 2 fight with Pacquiao make out of Larios?
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