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Barrera Keeps Title, Upon Further Review

World Boxing Council super-featherweight bout called a draw until scores are checked.

May 21, 2006|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

Initially, Saturday night's World Boxing Council super-featherweight title fight between champion Marco Antonio Barrera and challenger Ricardo Rocky Juarez was called a draw.

That what's ring announcer Michael Buffer, reading from the scoring totals he had been handed, told the 10,167 fans at Staples Center before they departed. That's what HBO informed its audience before it went off the air.

But after rechecking the scorecards, Armando Garcia, chief executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, announced that Barrera had won the fight by split decision.

Judges Ken Morita (115-114) and Anek Hongtogkham (115-113) both had Barrera winning. Judge Duane Ford gave the decision to Juarez 115-114.

The dispute was over Morita's score, which was originally announced as even at 114. He called the last round a draw.

"It was a miscalculation," Garcia said, "bad addition on the Morita scorecard. It was not altered, not changed. The scores were added incorrectly. That's what it was. I have to double check and triple check. That's my job, and you have to tell the truth all the time."

So why, Garcia was asked, was the crowd allowed to leave thinking the fight was a draw?

"The announcer had already left," he said, apparently ruling out the idea of anyone else picking up the microphone.

Garcia's announcement of a change in the decision didn't go over well in the Juarez locker room.

"I can't believe this," said Juarez, who lives in Houston. "Who could believe this? I'm very upset and disappointed. I had been thinking to myself that 25-1-1 was OK with one draw against a legendary fighter like Barrera," he said of his record had the initial announcement of a draw held up.

"But to come back in the dressing room and tell me I lost by one point is very upsetting. I am in California, in Oscar De La Hoya [Barrera's promoter] country, but I didn't feel I lost the fight. I don't understand how they could give the fight to Barrera, who was backing up the whole time.

"When I was walking out of the ring, everyone was saying, 'Good fight. You won. You won.' I wonder how they would have reacted if they had found out I lost."

As was to be expected, Barrera's reaction was a little different.

"I always respect the decision of the judges," he said. "They added the scores wrong. We are all human. I am happy for the fans and I have a lot of respect for Juarez. He is a warrior and a tremendous fighter."

When the fight ended, Barrera certainly looked like he had lost. Blood streamed from his nose, the result of a left hand thrown by Juarez in the second round. And Barrera's left eye was swollen from the fourth round on.

Barrera, owner of a 62-4 record with 42 knockouts, was the favorite coming in. In a professional career that stretches to 1989, the 32-year-old had been in the ring with most of the great fighters of the lower weight divisions, from Erik Morales to Manny Pacquiao. Juarez (25-2, 18) admitted that he was once a fan of Barrera's.

Early in the fight, Barrera seemed to use this psychological advantage to hold off his eager, 26-year-old opponent, blunting charge after charge by the aggressive Juarez.

When all else failed, Barrera resorted to tactics outside the rules of boxing, landing low blows, hitting behind the head and leading with his elbows.

But as the rounds wore on, Barrera wore down. His breathing seemed labored, perhaps because of the injury to his nose. His punches seemed to lack steam. And his footwork seemed unsteady.

"I knew this was going to be a tough fight," Barrera said. "He is a young, strong fighter. What shocked me was not so much his power, but the speed of his punches."

What shocked Juarez was the scorecards of the judges.


After a break of nearly an hour between the preliminary fights and the semi-main event, the crowd was not happy when it got 49 seconds of action in a match scheduled for 12 rounds.

That's all it took for Jorge Rodrigo Barrios (46-2-1, 33) of Argentina to successfully defend his World Boxing Organization junior lightweight title against Janos Nagy (23-1, 14) of Hungary. Barrios smashed a left hook into Nagy's right rib cage that caused the fighter to stumble backward and then drop to one knee on the canvas.

Crouching there in obvious pain, Nagy was counted out by referee Raul Caiz, Jr.

"It was definitely a legal punch," Nagy said, "but I've never been hit like that before. It knocked the wind completely out of me, I wanted to go on, but I couldn't. I feel very bad that the fight ended like this."

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