Sunday, February 11, 2007


There's a neighborhood tailor’s shop that I drop in on from time-to-time. Need a jacket to be form fitted? He’ll make it happen. Need the hem of your slacks adjusted so they hang just so? He can do it.

Although he’s known as "Andy the Tailor" his real name is George. He’s a master craftsman that is methodical, efficient and he never wastes a movement as he pins a shirt or cuts the lapel on a new sports jacket. He can’t afford to waste time with small talk, so he doesn’t. Andy the Tailor is a one-man operation that answers the phone, marks the cuts and writes receipts in a simultaneous, effortless and artful manner. Ask him how much something like a new hem is going to cost and he never hesitates with his answer. Andy the Tailor already sized up the job before you asked the question.

Andy the Tailor reminds me a lot of Marco Antonio Barrera. While many have vilified Barrera for the tedious precision in which he altered the seams of Rocky Juarez this past Saturday night in their rematch, I saw things differently. Barrera had the chance back in May during their first fight to size up the Rocky Juarez job.

"I learned never to fight on the level of my opponent," he said. Barrera knew what it was going to take to cut Juarez down to size and just like Andy the Tailor he went about his work in a calm, definitive and precise manner.

From the first bell there was really no question as to what the outcome of this second fight was going to be. Barrera was determined and confident. Emanuel Steward, commenting from ringside could see the outcome as early as the round two. "He has the same facial expression that he had on his face when he fought Naseem Hamed. Extremely determined tonight. He’s fighting with that same determination tonight and that same intensity." Steward would know, as he was in Hamed’s corner the night in 2001 that Barrera dismantled Hamed who was never the same again.

Barrera, from Mexico City, the WBC Super Featherweight titlist entered the ring with a record of 62-4 (42)KO, 1NC. Rocky Juarez, a silver medal winner in the 2000 Olympic games from Houston, Texas entered the ring ranked as the #3 contender with a professional record of 25-2 (18)KO. Based on the intensity and drama of the first fight, many saw this as a potential fight of the year candidate. It was far from it.

Barrera accepted the fight with Juarez after the close decision victory back in May. The second Juarez fight was a bout that Barrera did not have to take, but he decided to take on Juarez again to silence the "controversy" of the first fight. The first fight was initially announced as a draw before a scorecard error was discovered and Barrera was later announced as the split-decision winner.

The boos and catcalls rained down form the far reaches of the MGM Grand Garden Arena from the seventh round onward, but Barrera didn’t hear them. Barrera was focused on the job at hand. Like Andy the Tailor, he knew that one wrong cut or one wrong measurement and the measured job he was doing on Juarez could be ruined. Many of the Mexican fans who showed up in a celebratory mood on this Mexican Independence Day actually got up and walked out on the proceedings to protest the lack of excitement.

Barrera continually controlled the action from start to finish and he used his sharp left jab with needlepoint accuracy and he was as light on his feet as a ballet dancer. The fans heading for aisles didn’t know they were watching a master at work.

After twelve rounds of a one-sided fight, Barrera was announced as the unanimous decision winner. At the end of the fight, the 32 year-old Barrera was fresh and looked as though he could have gone at least another three rounds. Juarez was marked up and his right eye was nearly closed from a Barrera uppercut early in the fight. The frustration of the night showed through on his face as much as the pain of Barrera’s punches did.

Larry Merchant’s thoughts on Barrera’s convincing victory were as blunt as Barrera’s left jabs, "This is the sort of thing that veteran fighters do and young fighters should know it and young fighters should be prepared to do something about it. Rocky Juarez couldn’t do anything about it. It’s as simple as that."

So thorough was the drubbing that Barrera dealt out to Rocky Juarez that his unanimous decision victory was more convincing than a knockout would have been. Barrera left no doubt about his dominance, his skill or his future in the game. When asked what he thought of Barrera’s performance, HBO commentator Jim Lampley was effusive in his praise, "A brilliant professional performance by one of the greatest professional fighters of the last 20 years."

Next up for Barrera could be a March 2007 fight with Manny Pacquiao who knocked out a less than stellar Barrera in November 2003. Based on Barrera’s thorough thrashing of Juarez, the odds on a potential Pacquiao vs. Barrera II match will be closer than they were. Slick, fundamentally sound boxers can trouble Pacquiao and Barrera is certainly that. Barrera blames his loss in their first fight on a plethora of problems that were beyond his control so a focused Barrera could spell serious problems for Pacquiao.

But, just like Andy the Tailor, Marco Antonio Barrera has already sized up that job and he knows what it’s going to take to sew up a win.

September 2006

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