When Manny Pacquiao defeated legendary Mexican boxer Marco Antonio Barrera in November 2003, nearly four years ago, not a few were considerably shocked—including Barrera himself.
It was a brutal fight, one that saw Barrera, nicknamed "The Babyfaced Assassin" kiss the canvas more than twice before eventually being halted by Pacquiao in eleven rounds.
Although a no title bout, the win established Pacquiao's entry into the big-time even as he continued to pummel every Mexican that came his way since then—Erik Morales (KO 3, TKO 10), Oscar Larios (W 12), Emanuel Lucero (TKO 3), Hector Velazquez (TKO 6) and Jorge Solis (KO 8).
The only "stain" in the Pacman winning streak was the draw against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2004. A lot of people reacted negatively to this draw since Pacquiao sent Marquez to the canvas three times in the first round.
Now, with the settlement between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions already completed, the much-awaited Pacquiao vs. Barrera rematch is now a reality.
Dubbed Will to Win: Pacquiao vs. Barrera, and scheduled on October 6, 2007 [Sunday, October 7, 9 a.m., local time] at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, many are wondering if Barrera will finally be able to avenge his defeat. This event is a 12-round super featherweight title fight between Pacquiao, 28, and Barrera, 33.
Barrera is considerably "itching" to get back at the prized Filipino boxer.
"I am not just fighting for personal revenge, I'm fighting for my country and my fellow Mexican fighters who have fallen victim to Pacquiao," stated a determined Barrera. "I want to beat Manny so badly I can taste it. This goes beyond being personal. For me, this fight is about restoring national pride!"
Pacquiao is confident he can handle the raging Mexican.
PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) talked with the famed Pambansang Kamao (The National Fist) during the send-off party held at Gourdo's at the Fort. Pacquaio assured us that he is "one hundred percent ready for the fight."
The Filipino boxer took off last Saturday, September 22, to train in Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California. "I worked and trained hard for this fight. I am ready. I will do my best to make my country proud," he declared.
Roach was as confident as his ward, yet he admitted that Pacquiao's
training is far from over. "We will continue working when we get to L.A. Manny
is still a work in progress. But he is in tip-top shape. He is ready to do
battle with anyone."
The early morning send-off party, which was attended by many of Pacquiao's supporters, including political heavyweights Lito Atienza and Chavit Singson, also saw the signing of agreement between Solar Sports and GMA-7 with regards to exclusive airing of the bout.
"Manny is an inspiration and hero to all our kababayans. I am happy to consider him a Kapuso," said Felipe Gozon, President and CEO of GMA Network.
As the date for the rematch between the two boxers approaches, many consider Pacquiao a favorite anew, having measured Barrera a "spent-force" far from the "bull" of his younger years. In fact, the Mexican boxer has expressed his desire to retire after this match.
Then again, surprises happen in boxing. Pacquiao himself wouldn't predict a knock-out.
"I wouldn't dare predict a win. It's not my style. But as I said, I will try my best and hopefully come home with a win," says an optimistic Pacquiao.
Will to Win: Pacquiao vs. Barrera airs exclusively on GMA-7 on Sunday, October 7, at 9 a.m. (local time).