As a white-collar worker with the thinnest of fistic endeavour behind me I cannot ever bring myself to discourage professional fighters from doing what they do best whether a fathom removed from their prime or not. The likes of Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins all earned the right to make their own decisions and though a shadow of their former selves they remain steadfastly more capable than a plethora of younger fighters for whom world-titles will always remain a pipe-dream. You cannot make a fighter retire simply because of their age or the evident decay in their performances. However, as an independent observer with a soft spot for the Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera I’d be happy to whisper quietly that its time for him to stop. If I could get close enough.
Even if I were of sufficient proximity and to mumble the well-intentioned suggestion he looks old and is falling back on the clichés of his predecessors who all sought one more goal or objective from their wealth of talent, I doubt the veteran would listen. True, the old warhorse was summarily shafted in his technical decision loss to Amir Khan, permitted to continue long enough to take the fight to the scorecards and avoid the temporarily inconclusive ‘No Contest’ result his depth of service to the sport richly deserved. Once again the fight in the fighter cost him the fight. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to provide witness to his 21-year career will concur that the three weight world champion would never refuse to continue while ever he could see Khan and had two arms.
Mexican legends never step backward or turn away, regardless of the odds. The moment he wasn’t pulled out and permitted to continue after suffering the cut his fate in the Khan fight was sealed. The cut was no worse when he was stopped in the 5th after all. Khan moves on, sucking the marrow from the carcass of Barrera’s talent, and leaves the Mexican unfulfilled and, to be clear, cheated. Fighters of Barrera’s calibre and make-up leave on their shield, not via contentious and unsavoury technical decisions.
How could a TD loss ever provide a meaningful conclusion to a career of the luminance of Barrera’s? And so, 15 months later, with the face a little more fleshy and soft, the brow heavier and glint in the eyes subdued still further the now 36-year-old is to return to the ring in an attempt to annex some inconsequential portion of the Lightweight title. His career needs neither the additional bauble nor his body the punishment even a mediocre opponent may submit it to.
Take care Marco.