Barrera-Morales III? If no slip-ups

June 25, 2002 11:05 AM
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The second Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales featherweight title fight was equally thrilling, just with less punches.

Barrera, a minus $1.65 favorite, won a unanimous but controversial decision Saturday night at MGM Grand. However, an apparent knockout (ruled a slip) of Barrera in the seventh round would have resulted in a three-point swing and a victory for Morales.

"The judges got it wrong twice," HBO telecaster Jim Lampley said, while signing autographs before a captive audience in the men’s room. "Barrera should have won the first fight, Morales should have won this one."

The fight opened in most ­­Vegas books with Barrera as a $2.00 favorite despite losing the first matchup. MGM dropped the odds down to minus $1.60 for Barrera and plus $1.35 for Morales. Much of the late money in the bout came in on Morales, the previously unbeaten WBC champion.

The punchstats show that this could easily have been a draw. The fight turned in the seventh round toward Barrera, who won five of the last six rounds on all three judges cards.

GamingToday had Barrera winning the fight 115-114 on the strength of taking the 12th round. The critical seventh round was also given to Barrera.

"I had the fight for Morales thinking that the knockdown should have counted in the seventh round," ESPN boxing analyst Max Kellerman said moments after the decision was announced. "You could make a case for both fighters, but no way was this a 116-112 fight."

While this Mexican war did not quite equal the first (voted Fight of the Year in 2000), the rematch intensified in drama up to the final punch.

"This was one of the worst officiated fights I have seen in quite a while," Las Vegas radio personality and ESPN boxing guru Al Bernstein said. "Jay (referee Cady) clearly blew the knockdown call. Morales landed a clean punch to the body and there was no slip."

Cady’s slip ruling cost Morales the fight. All three judges had Barrera winning the seventh round 10-9. A knockdown would have given Morales the round 10-8, which would have been good enough for a majority decision. As it stands in the strange world of boxing, the WBC title through a technicality is vacant despite the Barrera victory.

Morales looked like the beaten fighter in the post fight news conference, with his right eye nearly closed and his nose and face bloodied. Barrera took his share of shots but was unmarked and unscathed.

The crowd was definitely on Barrera’s side, feeling their fighter got a raw deal from the judges in the first fight. Nothing was ironed out about a possible third meeting, but both fighters said they would welcome the opportunity.

It was a more cerebral and defensive fight this time around, with 300 less punches thrown. Morales was ahead by two points on two judges cards and even on the third through six rounds.

Barrera became the aggressor in the second half of the fight, including a thrilling 12th round.

Interestingly, in a fight where many of the rounds could have been called even, no ties ­­appeared on the three cards.

PUNCHSTATS

MORALES  

  

 BARRERA

599  

 total punches  

 607

205  

 punches landed  

 207

34%  

 percent landed  

 34%

265  

 jabs  

 278

70  

 jabs landed  

 90

26%  

 percent landed  

 32%

334  

 power punches  

 329

135  

 punches landed  

 117

40%  

 percent landed  

 36%

JUDGES:  

 SCORING

Chuck Giampa  

 116-112 (Barrera)

Mike Glienna  

 115-113 (Barrera)

Duane Ford  

 115-113 (Barrera)

SOLID ”” Erik Morales (R) did his best fighting in the first six rounds.