Lee Groves

10: Juan Manuel Marquez’s best fights

5. March 17, 2007 – W 12 Marco Antonio Barrera, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

Two-and-a-half years after his tepid pay-per-view audition against Salido, Marquez secured a second chance to create a first impression. Marquez couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to change the dynamic of his career because (1) he was fighting someone who had a greater hold on the fan base he so dearly wanted; and (2) a victory would reverse the succession of frustrations, disappointments and missed opportunities that marked his career to date. Barrera opened as a 7-to-5 favorite but a rush of late Marquez money drove the odds down to even money.

To the crowd’s delight both men started quickly and proved that their styles mixed wonderfully. The second and third rounds saw Barrera use his faster hands to beat Marquez to the punch, but Marquez warmed up in rounds four through six, opening a slice over Barrera’s left eye.

The seventh was action-packed but also marred by controversy. Marquez dominated the round with power flurries that forced Barrera to retreat on unsteady legs but in the final three seconds Barrera fired an overhand right that should’ve been scored a knockdown. Referee Jay Nady incorrectly waved off the fall but justifiably docked Barrera one point for striking Marquez while he was down.

The passions continued to overflow in the eighth and the damage to both mounted. Barrera’s left eye cut widened while both of Marquez’s eyes were puffy. Marquez edged the 10th and 11th, though he picked up a dangerous-looking cut over the right eye in the process.

The pulsating give-and-take that marked the first round was also prevalent in the last and when the final bell sounded most believed a close decision was in store. They were wrong: Doug Tucker saw a 118-109 fight while Patricia Morse-Jarman and Paul Smith turned in 116-111 scorecards for Marquez, who not only added his third title but also cemented his place in Mexican boxing lore.

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