By Craig Watt
Photos: David Martin Warr
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WBO#1 ranked lightweight Marco Antonio Barrera (65-6-1, 43 KO’s) puts his much respected and established boxing credentials on the line when he takes on UK boxing sensation Amir Khan (19-1, 15 KO’s) at the MEN Arena on Saturday. The 35 year old from Mexico has an amazing boxing pedigree as a seven time boxing world champion and a three weight world champion. His role of honour includes WBO super bantamweight, WBC and IBO featherweight, WBC and IBF super-featherweight titles in his career that spans 73 professional fights since he started his pro career as a 15 year old in 1989. This followed a distinguished amateur career when his record was 104 wins and just 4 defeats and he secured five Mexican national championships. He is without doubt one of the most successful boxers, in any weight division in the last ten years.
On Saturday 14th March, in front of 19,000 fervent UK fans he puts all this experience on the line against a fighter who is on the rise up the world rankings and with a point to prove in his home country. Amir Khan has been highly regarded in the UK by a growing army of fans who want to see how he compares in “The Big League”, especially after his first round knockout by Columbian Bredis Prescott in September 2008. Many experts predict that Khan’s challenge to ring legend Barrera is too soon after this defeat, but just as many feel Barrera has peaked and in the zone where a younger, faster, more determined Khan can upset the boxing records.
The “Baby Faced Assassin” has been here before with a UK boxing star in April 2001 when he handed Prince Naseem Hamed his first, and only professional defeat. He totally dominated and out boxed one of the periods brightest stars and Hamed was never the same fighter again. Perhaps, even at 35 years of age, Barrera can damage Khan’s pedigree and reputation in the same way. Many believe with 28 world title fights versus Khan’s total professional record of just 20 fights this is possible, especially with Khan’s recent defeat to Bredis Prescott and also being dropped to the canvas in his fights with Willie Limond and Michael Gomez preceding the Prescott loss.
Barrera has fought in the UK before when he stopped Paul Lloyd inside a round back in 1999 at the Albert Hall in London in the first defense of his WBO super bantamweight title. Against Amir Khan however, the 19,000 capacity crowd at the MEN Arena could provide a crucial home advantage, as Ricky Hatton found at this venue when he defeated Kostya Tszyu in June 2005.
If ever there was a fighter to unravel an opponent’s weaknesses and exploit Khan’s relative inexperience then Barrera is that fighter. With wins against respected fighters such as Eric Morales, Nassem Hamed, Rocky Juarez and Johnny Tapia in his career to date, he has succeeded in this task on many occasions. Few would be wise to dismiss him as a fighter past his peak and there for the taking by a young contender in Khan.
In the build up this week, Barrera has been in upbeat mood and relishing the prospect of the challenge Khan brings and the 19,000 crowd at the MEN Arena. With Don King as his promoter, the Mexican has had some vocal support – King is ultra confident his fighter has too much experience for Khan and his team.
With the fight likely to be a WBO lightweight title eliminator, the winner will be catapulted into the top of one of world boxing’s most exciting division’s at 135 pounds and into the path of Juan Manuel Marquez. For Barerra, this could be an opportunity to avenge his unanimous points loss victory to Marquez in March 2007.
Similarly, a defeat to Khan could signal the end of Barrera’s illustrious career and Khan has stated in the build up he will be the final opponent of the Mexican’s great boxing career.
With all these separate ingredients, this fight is perhaps one of the most intriguing so far in 2009. A defeat for either fighter could be fatal to future prospects and a win for either could provide a massive uplift and push them to the top of the ladder at 135 pounds.
Integrated Sports will distribute the world-class pay-per-view card, headlined by Amir Khan versus “The Baby Faced Assassin” Marco Antonio Barrera, Saturday, March 14 live from The M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, United Kingdom. Integrated Sports is distributing three 12-round championship bouts featured on the “Khan-Barrera” card, presented by Frank Warren, in North America for live viewing at 4 PM/ET – 1 PM/PT on cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN Demand, TVN, DirecTV and Dish Network in the United States, as well as Viewer’s Choice and Bell TV in Canada, for a suggested retail price of only $24.95.