Once and Future Foes

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Barrera defeats Morales in thriller.

The judges gave the victory and the WBC super featherweight championship, by the slimmest of margins, to Marco Antonio Barrera. However, history will show that Barrera and Erik Morales, placing pride and body on the line before an explosive crowd of 11,162, took the more meaningful decision out of the judge's hands. The fight was a knockout. It was a thrilla. It was the capstone to the most exhilarating trilogy in recent memory. And the winner, all efforts of the judges aside, is?

The fans

There can be no doubt that this was the Fight of the Year. This writer will take any odds on that bet and though the following words are as cruel as Morales' broken, bloody nose...they have to do it again. This fight was advertised as 'Once and for All,' but, it was so close. The victory was less controversial this time than in Barrera and Morales' previous two encounters, yet there is certainly room in the boxing fan's heart for another try at a decisive conclusion.

Yet, perhaps that is too much to ask, too selfish to consider. One can only imagine what percentage of those two great Mexican prizefighters' spirits was spent forever within the MGM Grand's squared ring.

The pair met in 2000 in a fight for the ages. Morales was awarded a controversial decision, but Barrera avenged the loss two years later. Last night, for the third time, and at a third weight class, they fought like feuding titans to settle the score.

Early on Barrera delivered an uppercut that apparently broke Morales' nose. Morales' cuffed at the bloody wound throughout the night. In the second round Morales opened with a wicked left-right combination. He danced a violent ballet, slipping many of Barrera's power punches and punished him, with about forty-five seconds remaining, with a thunderous right. Barrera ate the punch as if it were exactly the entrée he had ordered.

These exchanges foreshadowed the remainder of the night, as they exchanged powershots and rounds. Entering the championship rounds they both knew the fight was close. The eleventh round of this fight, alone among the 34 rounds that had preceded, should cement both of their claims as great Mexican champions. They traded bombs without relenting, managing to remain upright through some prizefighter's mojo unknown to lesser mortals.

The twelfth round closed with Morales' face badly damaged. His attitude was obviously just as bruised; he threw water at Barrera, who approached before the decision to shake hands. The water struck Barrera's father, who had accompanied his son to congratulate Morales on a great fight. It was clear that all the bad blood had not yet drained from Morales' damaged nose.

The judges scored the bout 114-114, and 115-114 and 115-113 for the winner by majority decision, Marco Antonio Barrera.

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David Mckee