"Yes, we can!"
Yes, they did!
Marco Antonio "Baby Face" Barrera had some help when he pulled off his upset victory over Prince Naseem Hamed Saturday.
Every time Barrera landed one of his powerful punches in this IBO Featherweight championship match at MGM Grand Garden Arena, his fans, many waving Mexican flags, kept yelling in Spanish: "Yes, we can! Yes, we can!"
These cheers lasted through the fight and were a big reason why Barrera (53-3, 38 KOs), who entered at +270, became the first boxer to defeat Hamed (35-1, 31 KOs), a -330 favorite.
"I heard them every single time," Barrera said. "Yes, we can! Yes, we can! It motivated me each time. But Hamed also received pretty good representation from the English fans."
The near-capacity crowd did seem equally divided between English and Mexican fans. But Barrera also received support from another source besides the fans.
Barreras entourage, who spent seven weeks with him in Big Bear Mountain (Calif.) training for the fight, carried the new IBO champion around the ring while he was wearing his belt. They soon headed toward the press conference with Barrera, singing to him in Spanish the entire way.
When Barrera reached the podium, he showed respect to his MGM Grand hosts by complimenting them. Then, he spoke his lone English words before returning to Spanish and putting his interpreter to work.
"Naseem Hamed is very strong," Barrera said. "Going in, people say the Prince is the Prince, but now I am the King."
His comments were met with applause from the media, proving that once someone meets Barrera, it is hard not to support him. Even Hamed, who spoke at the press conference, was impressed with Barrera.
"He won the fight, clearly, in my eyes," Hamed said. "I tried to land a certain shot, one shot, and you cant do that. He was better than me tonight. This is my first loss and I take it like a champion."
Hamed and Barrera went on to answer questions with their arms around one anothers shoulders. This was a huge departure from the events that transpired just minutes earlier.
In the fight, Barrera dominated every punch statistics category. Most significantly, he won total punches connected, 230-141, and power punches connected, 129-69, during the 12-round fight. He won only four rounds on two judges scorecard and just three rounds on the third judges card.
The result was a win for any bettor who wagered on anything for the underdog and ignored all round knockout propositions. Similar to MGM Grand, Leroys sports books had Hamed favored over Barrera by the same margin. Hamed closed -300 while Barrera was +240.
"While this was a very good fight, it (the amount of money bet) was not like the outstanding fights," said Leroys sports book director Bob Smith. "But even if (the amount of money wagered) is not as much as you like, it brought people in, and people bet on other things, too. We definitely were happy with the results of the day."
While Leroys, similar to most sports books, didnt offer any propositions besides a round distance prop, Barrera paid off at the MGM Mirage sports books at 13-2 by winning via decision.
And since he was able to refute the bettors who made Hamed a 2-3 favorite to win the bout by KO, the payoff was -130 for anyone who wagered that the bout would last at least 8Â½ rounds.
In fact, the KO round proposition at MGM Grand was at its lowest in favor of Hamed in round four, when it was 10-1.
Toledo upsets Botile
Another Featherweight title, the IBF crown, was up for grabs at the Texas Station Hotel and Gambling Hall Friday night.
In that bout, Frankie Toledo (40-5-1, 15 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Mbulelo Botile (27-2, 16 KOs).
In the co-main event, Terrance Lewis (28-8, 19 KOs) KOd Ed Mahone (22-3-2, 16 KOs) in round nine.
Other results were: Mark Tullius (1-2, 1 KO) with a TKO vs. Joshua Walters (0-1) in round one; Monica McGowan (4-2, 3 KOs) with a unanimous six-round decision over Suzy Taylor (10-5-1, 7 KOs); Mohamad Abdulaev (1-0) with a four-round decision over Mahan Washington (14-10, 2 KOs); Kevin Petty (7-0, 5 KOs) with a TKO against Leroy Berbick (2-1, 2 KOs) in round one; and Ian Matthews MacKillop with a TKO vs. Abdias Castillo (5-3, 4 KOs) in round one.