Las Vegas, Nevada—Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao made sure that Marco Antonio Barrera retired with a bang.
For 12 rounds of pound for pound boxing, the two fighters failed to knock each other out as both stood their ground for the sake of pride and national prestige. For Barrera, though, the grand finale that he has been awaiting for four years seemed to have puffed out as a unanimous decision in favor of Pacquiao "knocked out" Marco's intention of avenging the fellow Mexicans Pacquiao had beaten.
Both fighters weighed in at 130 pounds, but both were heavier by the time they climbed into the ring—Pacquiao at 144 pounds and Barrera at 138.
Barrera took control for the first five rounds with successful jabs, but the Pacman prevailed in the middle of second half with continuous assaults to a retreating Marco. Things started to heat up at the 10th round as Pacman dished out some mean punching firepower to Barrera and skin from under the latter's eye started to gash out and bleed.
In the 11th round, Pacquiao threw out a crushing blow to the Mexican's face that nearly toppled him. Marco immediately recovered though, but was obviously bothered with the growing cut under his eye and he seemed desperate, as he resorted to giving out an illegal blow at the end of the 11th round, thus prompting referee Tony Weeks to deduct a point. Pacquiao, looking a bit wobbled by the blow, was given some time by the referee to recover.
Barrera spent the 12th round retreating from Pacquiao's onslaught as he desperately tried to evade the lunging Pacman. The bout ended for both fighters but a crestfallen Barrera knew that his chance at getting revenge was over—as well as his career.
Both fighters raised their arms in celebration in the end of the fight, but the judges ruled unanimously in favor of Pacquiao. Judge Tom Schreck scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao, while Jerry Roth and Glenn Trowbridge both favored Pacquiao, 118-109. The Associated Press also gave it to Pacquiao, 116-111.
Mexican singer Inez Zak sang Mexico's "Himmo Nacional Mexicano." R&B Princess Kyla, who was chosen to sing the "Lupang Hinirang," sang it with ease and power that nearly matched the Philippines' boxing champion's own. Finally, it was Las Vegas performer Cynthia Minx who sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."
A few hours after his victory, Showbiz Central got the chance to interview Pacquiao via phone patch in the middle of his victory party in Las Vegas.
"Masaya ako dahil nanalo ako sa laban at walang masamang nangyari sa akin," said Manny when asked about his feeling after winning over Barrera.
Pacquiao was also asked about the punches he got from Barrera, especially in the first five rounds of the boxing match.
"Okay naman, hindi masyadong nasaktan... Talagang magaling din si Barrera. Hindi naman natin puwede i-underestimate yung kagalingan niya. Siyempre, three-time world champion ‘yon. Talagang ginawa ko ang lahat ng aking makakaya."
What can he say about the right hook that Barrera threw in the 11th round while the referee was calling a timeout?
"Alam mo, maganda sana kung hindi niya ako sinapak nung inawat siya ng referee. Medyo groggy na ako nun kaya hindi na ako naka-follow-up... Strategy niya yon, e, wala tayong magagawa. Kailangan niyang gawin lahat ng makakaya niya para hindi siya mabugbog. Okay naman, medyo namaga lang 'yong panga ko. Magkaibigan naman kami," said the Pambansang Kamao.
In the end, Pacquiao thanked all the Filipino people for their support in his latest fight and victory.