Barrera (left) and Juarez, with promoter Oscar De La Hoya - HoganPhotos.com
By Paul Upham: It's not the sort of way any great fighter wants to win. After a bruising battle on May 20 that was announced as a twelve round draw, Marco Antonio Barrera and Rocky Juarez went back to their dressing rooms with mixed feelings, only to be told twenty minutes later that Barrera had actually won the fight. A mistake in totaling the judges scorecards causing the wrong verdict to be announced to the millions watching on television around the world and to the 10,617 fans in attendance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA.
Giving the fans of both boxers exactly what they want, next Saturday Barrera and Juarez will rematch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View.
"I feel obligated to take this fight to make sure that obviously, there's no doubt with the first fight," said Barrera 62-4 (42). "I don't want to leave no doubt with the promoters. I want to make them happy. I promise to be in the best shape, in excellent shape. I'm going to come out victorious."
It was originally announced that judge Duane Ford scored it 115-113 for Juarez, Anek Hongtongkam had Barrera winning 115-113, while judge Ken Morita scored it even 114-114. A second check by officials shortly after revealed that Morita's scoring had been totaled incorrectly and he actually had Barrera winning 115-114, giving the Mexican legend a split decision win.
If that wasn't bad enough, Ford's score was incorrect as well and turned out to be 115-114 for Juarez, not that it affected the overall outcome.
"At 32 years old, it's almost impossible to learn anything new now," said Barrera. "But one thing I am certain about is that I'm definitely ready for this fight. Yes, I was favorite going into the first fight with Rocky, but all I can do now is demonstrate with my fists come September 16. I am definitely ready."
Barrera, who will be defending his WBC junior lightweight world title, one of his six world titles in three weight classes, refuted any suggestion that he was sick going into the first fight with Juarez.
"I don't want to put no excuses forward whatsoever," he said. "It was a very tough, tough fight and the only thing that I want to clarify is that I am not just ready for this fight, I am in excellent, excellent shape for this fight. I'm not just ready. I'm excellent."
After facing the very best of his peers for more than a decade, it is possible that Barrera had taken Juarez lightly. The 26 year-old from Houston had won Silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, but he had lost to Humberto Soto on points in a disappointing performance in August last year.
"No, I took him seriously like every other opponent I take very seriously," said Barrera. "Rocky Juarez is a young, hungry fighter and I took him very serious. And this time around, like I said, I'm in excellent shape."
After a quiet first round, Juarez 25-2 (18) crashed a left hook on Barrera's nose towards the end of round 2 that proved he was there to win. He wasn't going to be intimidated by his opponent's legendary reputation.
"I wasn't surprised at all. I expected that," Barrera said, of Juarez' performance. "I expect when any fighter is young like Rocky Juarez, I expect that, so I wasn't caught off guard at any moment. I was ready for what Rocky Juarez was going to bring to the table."
Barrera says that his determination to prove himself in this rematch will see him in his best condition in many years.
"Just a lot of hard work," he explained, as the reason for the difference. "I haven't felt this way in a lot of years, so I'm going to show it up in the ring and I can't wait."
After his surprising stoppage loss to Manny Pacquiao in November 2003 and narrow win over Juarez, there have been suggestions by critics that Barrera's best days are behind him.
"I'm not going to leave no doubt whatsoever," Barrera pledged. "Yes, I am facing a hungry and young Rocky, but I'm not leaving no doubt whatsoever. I'm going to go out and win September 16."
Juarez has made a number of comments about the result of the first fight. "I think the fans and the people who were watching, felt that I won the fight," he said.
Barrera has not liked it.
"I'm going to teach him a lesson come September 16," he promised. "I'm going to hold him by the hand and take him to school. He's talked too much in Texas and I'm going to take him to school."
With the "Too Close to Call" card being one of the overall strongest of the year, Barrera knows he has some competition for the title of 'boxer of the night'.
"I have no choice but to fight hard," he said, "because obviously, you have Johnny Gonzalez against Israel Vasquez. Then you have Jorge Barrios against Joan Guzman, which are going to be excellent, excellent fights with a lot of fireworks. So I have no choice but to demonstrate and to give a great performance so it's obviously going to elevate everyone's performance, I think."
Let's just hope that if Barrera is successful in setting the record straight with Juarez next Saturday night, he will then go on to try and avenge his loss to Pacquiao early in 2007.