October 7, 2007 Sunday
Judges Tom Schreck surprisingly saw it much closer but still had Pacquiao the winner 115-112. Jerry Roth and Glenn Trowbridge had Pacquiao winner by a wide 118-109 margin.
Marco Antonio Barrera’s game-plan was clearly put into survival mode from the opening bell and Manny Pacquiao didn’t seem overeager to repeat the embarrassing eleventh round destruction he imposed on Barrera on November 15, 2003. There were those who believed that because he had to reduce three-and-a-half pounds to make the 130 pound limit at the official weigh-in, Pacquiao appeared to have lost some sting in his vaunted punching power.
The Filipino southpaw staggered Barrera with a cracking left in the eleventh round after which Barrera clinched and then hit Pacquiao in the break forcing referee Tony Weeks who had earlier cautioned the Mexican for head-butts and a low blow to deduct a point which turned the last but one round into a 10-8 round for Pacquiao.
Regardless of Pacquiao’s speed, strength and aggression which was a little bit passive compared to his trilogy with another Mexican legend Erik “El Terrible” Morales, he failed to overwhelm Barrera who boxed watchfully throughout content to go out with some deal of respect by staying on his feet at the end of the fight.
Songbird Kyla set the tone for the proceedings with a classy version of the Philippine National Anthem even as a smiling Manny Pacquiao appeared to have recovered from the irritable mood he was in, on the eve of the weigh-in.
Pacquiao took the opening round but only just with a right hook to the body and then finished the second round with a good left after a furious but brief exchange. Barrera fought back in the third round and then caught Pacquiao with an elbow in the fourth but Pacquiao answered with a couple of solid shots to the head. The fifth round was close as both men once again traded vicious shots in one burst. It was Barrera’s best round at that point.
Pacquiao stormed back in the sixth stanza with a series of fierce combinations before the pace slackened in the seventh as both fighters appeared to be preserving their energy for the second half of the fight.
A good one-two combination by Barrera in round eight drew an outbreak of punches from Pacquiao in the ninth. At the end of round ten Pacquiao was seen smiling as celebrated trainer Freddie Roach was giving him instructions in his corner and then launched a typical whirlwind assault in the penultimate round that had Barrera slow. In the final round Pacquiao, confident of victory, didn’t take any risks and neither did Barrera who didn’t let his hands go in spite of pleadings from his trainer and brother Jorge who knew his only chance for victory was a knockout.
Vice president Noli de Castro said “we are proud of Pacquiao and we are proud of the Filipinos, the real winners.”
In a post fight interview Pacquiao said he was “careful of Barrera’s use of his head” even as admitted that the Mexican icon was “still strong and not an easy opponent.” Pacquiao said Barrera “never really hurt me,” but said he respected him.
Manny Pacquiao made it clear that whether he trains in the Philippines as he did for the rematch with Barrera or at the Wild Card Gym of Freddie Roach will depend on who his opponent will be. Pacquiao also gave no sign of who his next opponent would be saying he only wanted to return to the Philippines and celebrate his victory.
While the Pacquiao-Barrera fight was on, the streets were almost deserted and even though some diehard supporters were disappointed that he didn’t win by a knockout or TKO, Pacquiao proved he was capable of engaging in a slugfest or out-boxing an opponent of the competence level of Barrera.
Roach himself had a talk with Barrera in the ring after both fighters had embraced and tapped the Mexican kindly on the head. Roach later praised Barrera for “showing a lot of heart and guts.”