By Brent Matteo Alderson
A fight with Marco Antonio Barrera is perfect for Amir Khan. Instead of having to take a return match against Breidis Prescott, an emphatic victory over the Mexican legend will erase the stench from that loss and Khan will again be perceived as one of the future stars of the sport without having to face a strong power-punching lightweight.
Don’t be fooled by the outcome of the bout. Even though Barrera is still a world class fighter, his prime was at 122-126 pounds and he hasn’t scored a knockout against a top-flight opponent since he defeated Mzonke Fana in 2005.
Barrera is no longer the calculating assassin that dissected Naseem Hamed or Enrique Sanchez in 2001, and can no longer fight at a fast consistent pace that will be required to dominate the much taller Khan for twelve rounds.
This isn’t the Barrera of old; this is just an old Barrera. He lost both of his big fights in 2007 and didn’t fight a quality opponent in 2008 and today he’s just a small cagey lightweight with a lot of experience and that’s just not enough to beat the talented yet flawed Amir Khan.
Now he’s just a 35-year-old featherweight who utilizes the experience and boxing skills he has accumulated in more than 70 professional fights to out-box guys.
Numerous insiders still feel that Barrera still has enough left to dominate Khan who is perceived as a vulnerable prospect after getting knocked down by Michael Gomez and then knocked out by the unknown Prescott in less than a minute.
Professional trainer Henry Ramirez favors the Mexican legend, “It’s a good crossroads fight, a champion that has seen better days against a young up and coming kid. Khan can beat him, but I like Barrera’s experience, I think it will get him through the fight. He is a great fighter. I think he will have enough to beat Khan.”
And recently in the Telegraph, British promoter Mick Hennessy commented that “If Barrera is anything like the man he was, he will knock Khan out inside three rounds."
The boxing fraternity is putting too much stock into Khan’s 54 second knockout loss. Prescott is one of those guys with rare power, kind of like a Rafael Pineda. And even though he hasn’t fought at the world class level, a 90% knock out ratio denotes that the Colombian has that special kind of power. In analyzing an opponent’s knockouts against non-descript opposition, Vinny Pazienza once commented , “I don’t care who you fight, if you knock your mother out fifty times, you have to have some power!”
And Prescott’s power did expose Khan’s chin, but Barrera isn’t going to be able to do it because he’s no longer a world class puncher and he’s a a very small lightweight at 5’6.
Barrera is still a decent fighter, but at this point, his attributes as a fighter will not allow him capitalize on Khan’s weaknesses. The Mexican City native is just a cagey boxer who knows how to pick his shots, but Khan is a 5’10 lightweight of amateur pedigree with solid boxing skills.
Amir won the silver medal at the 2004 games at the age of 17 and avenged his loss in the finals a year later before turning professional.
Amir may have a suspect chin, but a past his prime featherweight that prefers to use his ring guile to outbox opponents isn’t going to stop the young Brit.
Favorite Quote: - In one of the sport’s more famous quotes, Joe Louis said, “He can run, but he can’t hide,” in describing Billy Conn’s strategy to use movement
I was going to compare Prescott’s power to Julian Jackson’s, but in terms of one punch power, pound for pound, nobody can compare to the Hawk. There have definitely been some more prolific and efficient punchers in the sport, but pound for pound, he’s the hardest single-hit puncher that I’ve ever seen.
Luis Collazo didn’t have the political juice to win a close decision last weekend. Andre Berto came with the tag of being one of the future stars of the sport with connections to Al Haymon and former HBO Senior Vice-President of sports programming Lou DiBella.
And I think the decision was fair, it wasn’t a robbery. The fight was close and Berto closed the show like a champion. If Collazo would have won the last round, he would have won the fight, but he didn’t because he couldn’t.
Oh how the sport has changed! With Don King’s pull, ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, Collazo may have gotten the decision, but times have changed.
What’s up with Don King Productions? DKP used to be one of the power brokers in the sport and now their influence seems to dwindling by the day.
Brent Matteo Alderson, a graduate of UCLA, has been part of the staff at BoxingScene.com since 2004. Alderson's published work has appeared in publications such as Ring Magazine, KO, World Boxing, Boxing 2008, and Latin Boxing Magazine. Alderson has also been featured on the ESPN Classic television program “Who’s Number One?” Please e-mail any comments to BoxingAficionado@aol.com