By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Featherweight Rey Bautista went "boom, boom" and silenced his critics with a smashing 3rd round knockout of cocky Alejandro "Zorrito" Barrera before a sell-out crowd at the Pacific Grand Ballroom of the Waterfront Hotel and Casino on Saturday night.
Bautista may have conceded the opening round to Barrera, a cousin of Mexican legend
Marco Antonio Barrera who came out aggressively throwing left and right combinations.
But the vastly improved fighter in every respect, kept his composure to work behind a
stinging left jab that snapped the head of Barrera back time and time again.
Unlike in their first meeting which ended in a somewhat controversial fourth round TKO when Dr. Jose Unabia ruled that Barrera was unfit to continue because of a nasty cut under his left eye forcing referee Tony Pesons to call a halt, Bautista won convincingly in their eagerly awaited rematch.
Barrera who looked trim and sharp in a pre-fight public workout and vowed to avenge his defeat to Bautista with a knockout within five rounds, quickly felt the power of Bautista who had promised to do his talking in the ring.
Bautista whose timing was near perfect caught Barrera with a series of left hook counter punches and cracked the Mexican with deadly combinations as he continued to press the action.
Just as strength and conditioning coach Pio Solon had promised, Bautista was much sharper than ever before, showed excellent footwork and quickness and was never rattled or drawn into a wild exchange as he was prone to do in the past. Whenever he decided to trade punches in the center of the ring , Bautista got the better of the Mexican with both speed and explosive power, the hallmarks of a fighter looking to make a name for himself
after some earlier disappointments.
In the crucial third round Bautista nailed Barrera with a vicious left hook to the liver, sending the Mexican crumbling to the canvas in agony. Barrera gamely beat the count but Bautista pounced on him, cracked him to the body with another devastating right hook followed by a right to the side of the head and completed the demolition with another right to the top of the head as Barrera went down and was counted out by referee Bruce McTavish. The official time was 2:56 of the third round.
With the win Bautista improved to 30-2 with 23 knockouts while Barrera dropped to21-5 with 14 knockouts.
In a post fight interview with the Inquirer, Bautista said he had been hurt by criticism in the media as well as boxing forums on the internet some of which referred to him as a "bum" especially after his first round TKO in a WBO super bantamweight title fight against Daniel Ponce De Leon. He said he had trained hard for two months to prove his critics wrong and he did so with a rousing performance.
Fight fans jumped to their feet as Bautista dropped Barrera for the first time and gave him a standing ovation when McTavish counted out the fallen Barrera. The crowd surged forward and mobbed Bautista as he stepped out of the ring. One hour after his triumph Bautita was still besieged by admirers wanting to take pictures with him and to get his
Barrera had bragged that he had sparred with Ponce De Leon and claimed Bautista had no defense and had a glass chin. But all those claims were dispelled as Bautista took some of the best shots of Barrera and didn't wince and showed vast improvement even in his defense.
Bautista said he is aching for a rematch with Ponce De Leon but ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer said he feels "Boom Boom" needs a couple of fights more before he'll be ready for the menacing Mexican.
In the supporting main event of the blockbuster fight card telecast by ABS-CBN over Channel 2 and replayed over Studio 23, 19 year old light welterweight Jayson Pagara connected with a perfectly timed left hook to the jaw to score a stunning first
round knockout of highly-rated Indonesian Billy Sumba. The time was 2:53. The Indon fighter was knocked out cold and ringsiders couldn't understand why referee Tony Pesons decided to count to ten when it was obvious that Sumba who hit the back of his head as he crashed to the canvas needed medical help immediately.
As Sumba lay motionless on the canvas GAB doctors Unabia and Rene Bonsubre jumped into the ring along with medics who gave the stricken fighter oxygen. He recovered after a few minutes and was given polite applause as he left the ring.
Sumba's Indonesian colleague Sofyan Effendi got an appreciate round of applause from the fans after he put on a gallant performance against former WBC light flyweight silver champion Edrin Dapudong of former North Cotabato governor Manny Pinol's Braveheart
stable. It was an action-packed battle from the opening bell and despite staggering Effendi several times in the fight, the hard-hitting Dapudong couldn't put him away.
However, when he trapped Effendi in his own corner and hammered with a flurry of unanswered punches with :07 seconds remaining in round seven referee Teddy Alivio who earlier missed several low blows by the Indonesian, stepped in and called a halt.