Last night's fight between Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez was one of those fights. The kind you tell people about the next day. The kind you still talk about consistently for a month afterward. The kind of fight that you can watch with non-fans of the sweet science, and revel in watching as the intensity and pure excitement of the contest reels them into something for which they had no expectations.
Though many will be arguing over the result of the fight, a unanimous decision win for Marquez, no one will ever argue that they didn't get a classic fight between two of Mexico's -- and the sport's -- very best. Barrera and Marquez never relented, with Marquez as confident and flat-out good as I have ever seen him in a ring, and that counts his miraculous rally to draw with Manny Pacquiao. Barrera proved for the umpteenth time that there's some gas left in the tank. Neither fighter took a backseat to the other, even when someone was rocked.
The controversy over the seventh round knockdown that wasn't is behind us now. Frankly, the whole shebang of controversy, whichever side you're on, should be put behind us. What we all want is to see Barrera and Marquez square off again.
Barrera, of course, doesn't absolutely need it. He could retire, which has been rumored, and go out a living legend that fought the very best the sport had to offer for years, and went out fighting toe-to-toe with a guy that many in Barrera's position wouldn't even have gotten into the ring with. It speaks to the level of class and professionalism, as well as pride and fortitude, that Barrera posesses.
Marquez will still have a few doubters, though. He is a champion, and was probably the best featherweight in the world before the move to super featherweight to take on Barrera. Did he really beat Barrera? Barrera doesn't think so.
And that is the exact reason I truly have to believe we'll see these two fight again before the year is out. Barrera thinks he won the fight. He has said many times before that he wants to walk away from boxing with his head held high, going out as the gutsy warrior that everyone wants to remember him being. He could do that now, but thinking he won that fight last night is going to eat away at Barrera while he vacations with his family and ponders his future. He's simply too proud for it to not bother him.
Marquez was instantly agreeable in his post-fight interview with Larry Merchant. Another true professional with heart to spare, Marquez would in effect be repaying the good deed that Barrera did for him by fighting him in the first place.
Two great fighters put on an instant classic for us on Saturday night, and all I want is to see them go at it again. It's hard for any sequel to top an original that was this good, but Marquez and Barrera showed again last night just who they really are: Two of the best.
Forget Manny Pacquiao for right now, guys, and settle with one another. There's still plenty to say inside the ring between Marquez and Barrera. And, sadly, with the controversy surrounding the fight, there's also still something to prove. To me, "Barrera/Marquez II" sounds better than "Barrera/Pacquiao II" or "Marquez/Pacquiao II" right now. We know Manny rules the roost at 130 for the time being, but I don't think we've settled who the true and rightful No. 2 is just yet.