By Fiona Manning
Before a crowd of 5,732 fight fans at the Home Depot outdoor arena in Carson, former four-time world champion Marco Antonio Barrera and rising middleweight superstar Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor demolished their foes inside the distance, providing two of the best fights seen on California soil for some time.
Barrera, coming off a tough late KO loss to Manny Pacquiao last year, picked apart hapless Paulie Ayala, dropping him painfully to the canvas three times before stopping him in the 10th, proving once again he is very much a big part of big-time boxing.
Ayala, who looked terrible after the fight, immediately announced his retirement from boxing, while Barrera’s eyes returned shots against Erik “El Terrible” Morales and Manny Pacquiao.
In the main support fight of this HBO “After Dark” Top Rank-Golden Boy Promotions/diBella Promotions show, Taylor stopped former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Raul Marquez in a complete shut-out before Marquez’s trainer waved the fight over at the end of the ninth.
Marquez also promptly retired after his loss, saying he will focus on his duties as a TV commentator for HBO Latino.
This was a highly entertaining card for all the fans including big boxing names like Sugar Shane Mosley, Michael Carbajal, Rosendo Alvarez, Monte Barrett (who said he is fighting Vitaly Klitshcko at the end of the year), Julio Gonzalez, Jose Navarro, Nate Campbell and many celebrities, including rock singer Sammy Hagar.
Interestingly, disgraced promoter Sean Gibbons, fired last year as a result of an FBI probe by his employers at Top Rank, was making the rounds of the media tables greeting everybody.
But on with the show:
Barrera, who had the hearts of the crowd from the moment he stepped into the ring (set up on the tennis courts of the massive arena) dominated the fight with brilliant counter-punching.
Marco Antonio Barrera (left) lands a left to the face of Paulie Ayala. Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank.
Sporting his trademark “Tapia” on the back of his shorts (it’s his mother’s maiden name) looked superb and deadly-focused as he came out for the first dictating the pace and rhythm with clean, hard punches which all landed heavily on Ayala.
It didn’t get any easier for Ayala in the second. Although he landed a few shots of his own, Barrera had set up a steady rhythm and was in complete control, landing such a hard punch to Ayala’s head that the fighter stumbled.
In the third, Ayala threw a punch and the impact of it hurtled him straight passed Barrera and into the ropes. Barrera waited for him to rebound before continuing his all-out, but well-timed assault. Barrera was picking Ayala off with heavy-handed punches, dancing out of the way of anything Ayala had to offer.
By the fourth, Ayala was looking discouraged. Yes, he was getting a boxing lesson and although he was trying to land bombs from the outside (he was taking too much punishment inside) Barrera was counter-punching beautifully.
In the fifth, the dismantling of Ayala was stepped up a pace. A stiff left uppercut sent Ayala reeling and the fighters’ feet became entangled (that’s what happens when you fight a southpaw, folks). It looked like a knockdown but ref Pat Russell ruled it a slip.
Barrera’s face took on a fierce quality from the sixth. He was wearing down Ayala steadily. Ayala showed true heart landing a couple of good shots, but took many more in the proves.
In the seventh, Ayala was taking such a beating he’s never been manhandled like this before. He waslooking hurt and wounded, his face swollen, but still he stayed in there, to his detriment.
Barrera turned the heat way up in the eighth, dropping Ayala twice to his knees. Each time, Ayala gamely rose to his feet and managed to sneak in a couple of lefts when Barrera’s hands were down but Barrera flicked those punches away like pesky flies.
Ayala survived that round to come out for a better ninth. Well, it was better because he wasn’t on his knees, but then the 10th came and you wondered how Ayala made it this far. He got hammered by a big left uppercut which was becoming Barrera’s bread-and-butter shot in this fight and he dropped to the canvas on all fours.
Pat Russell had seen enough and waved it over at 2.34 of the round.
A jubilant and extremely conditioned Barrera looked like he could fight all night. Ayala’s face looked like a relief map of Switzerland.
Barrera improves to 58-4, 41 KOs. Ayala slips to 35-3, 12 KOs.
At the post-fight presser, Barrera says he is keen on rematches with both Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales.
Jermain Taylor was supposed to have tough time of it, his supposedly strongest test yet against Raul Marquez but before the fight was stopped in the ninth, none of the judges or any ringsiders gave Marquez even one round in this fight.
Marquez looked good but took a pasting for nine long rounds. He simply was not fast enough to handle Taylor’s lightening-fast hands or his power.
In the opening rounds, Marquez was able to block many of the punches going to his head, but Taylor, like Barrera had a plan. Taylor’s plan, which was often Marquez’s plan, was to tie the guy up, so ref Jack Reiss was constantly pulling these two apart.
Marquez tried to get Taylor on the inside, which worked, landing some good shots. When he did, the crowd went wild. Unfortunately, mostly he got caught stepping inside and when Taylor stayed back in the last couple of rounds. It was clear Marquez was running on sheer will-power.
Seconds before the end of the ninth round, Marquez was knocked down. When he got up and returned to his corner, he looked truly awful. His right eye was cut, his eyes and cheeks swollen. Trainer Ronnie Shields took one look at him, stepped into the ring and waved the fight over. That’s a man with heart, right there.
Official time was KO 9.
Taylor improves 21-0, 16 KOs and picks up the WBC Continental Americas middleweight title but hey, isn’t the WBC finished? Marquez drops to 35-3, 24 KOs.
In the first bout of the evening at a bright and early 5.45pm, bantamweight Johnny Gonzalez beat up luckless stepping stone Francisco Tejedor for a round before decking Tejedor at exactly the three minute mark.
Gonzalez improves to 24-4-2, 22 KOs. Tejedor plummets to 46-21-2, 31 KOs.
Funniest quote of the night: New York scribe Tim Smith reports that Mike Tyson told him yesterday at his training camp in Arizona: “Vitaly Klitschko knows he’s terrible, don’t he?”
Funniest sight of the night: The HBO boys getting constant make-up adjustments by the ringside make-up artist. Lampley didn’t even flinch when she swatted at his eyes with a mascara wand and even powder-puffed his ears.