The Eric Morales-Marco Antonio Barrera fight this Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena promises to be everything Lewis-Tyson wasn’t.
"It was the World Boxing Council’s Fight of the Year for 2000 and neither guy likes each other," said Rich Dressler, race and sports supervisor at Imperial Palace.
"The Morales-Barrera fight should be great," said Dressler, who also writes boxing for Ring Sports Magazine. "Both have world titles. Unfortunately, it won’t get half the pay-per-view that Tyson-Lewis did."
Morales won a controversial decision in the first fight when both competed as super bantamweights, but enters the rematch as a $1.60 underdog.
All three judges in the first fight gave Morales the verdict on points, even though most media observers had Barrera winning.
"Morales is popular in (promoter) Bob Arum’s stable and that may have had an impact on the judging," Dressler said. "There isn’t a freak factor in this fight like there was with Tyson. The public is hungry for a good fight and this is it."
Barrera gained momentum for the rematch when he upset Prince Naseem Hamed in April of 2001. The fight with Morales was originally scheduled for March 2, but a rib injury to Barrera forced the rescheduling.
"I expect that the late money will come to Morales, but right now the odds are pretty standard all over Vegas," Dressler said.
The winner of Saturday’s featherweight title fight could face Juan Manuel Marquez, who will be fighting Friday night at The Orleans.
"I think you could well see Marquez in line for a title shot," Dressler said. "I would give him a chance at either fighter, although I believe Barrera will bang out a unanimous decision against Morales."
JUNE 22, 2002-MGM GRAND
MATCHUP LVSC IP
Erik Morales +160 +160
MA Barrera -180 -180
PROP OPEN NOW
Morales by decision 5-2 5-2
Morales by KO 4-1 4-1
Barrera by dec 9-5 9-5
Barrera by KO 2-1 2-1
12 round draw 12-1 12-1