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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 16:42 GMT
Brilliant Barrera still a force
Marco Antonio Barrera hammers Johnny Tapia with a right hand
Barrera hit Tapia at will

Before his comprehensive win over Johnny Tapia, featherweight king Marco Antonio Barrera said that he was "not as good physically" as he was in his youth.

But he added that he thought he was now "smarter".

Just how smart became more apparent as he gave a boxing exhibition against the experienced and tough Tapia.

Here I look at why Barrera's performance was an authentic boxing clinic.

The jab

"His jab was perfect - very, very fast and accurate, which is exactly what a jab has to be if it is going to be successful.

I thought his jab was his best weapon on Saturday.

He made it look very easy - waiting for Tapia to overreach before striking with it - it was all textbook stuff."

Ring generalship

"Barrera is such a smart fighter

He experimented once during the fight, in the sixth round when he stood toe-to-toe with Tapia.

Tapia won that round but that was the only chance he was given.

The next round Barrera got straight back to his boxing style - he knew he had been successful with it and just carried on hitting and moving out of punching range.

I thought his performance was very calculated - his tactics were perfect."

Defence

"Barrera does not neglect his defensive work.

His hands are always nice and high and he keeps his chin tucked into his chest.

As a former boxer, I can tell you that such a target is very difficult to hit.

When you do get past his guard, he has that fantastic chin. You could hit him with a really good shot, but like a typical Mexican fighter, he absorbs it and it just seems to bounce off him."

Style

"People have started to notice that Barrera can almost effortlessly change styles - he can do it during a fight which is a rare quality.

He fought Erik Morales and changed his style, he fought Naseem Hamed and changed his style and against Tapia, he did it during the fight - it is the mark of a talented fighter.

I know that, speaking for myself, I was purely a boxer and could not change - when I did try and fight inside, I would run into trouble.

That never happens to Barrera - he seems so comfortable with any style he uses."

The future

"I would say Barrera is the most complete all-round fighter in the world today - only Roy Jones Jnr is comparable.

Richie Woodhall believes Naseem Hamed's punching could hurt Barrera if they met again.
Hamed has the power to trouble Barrera
He probably has at least two years left of producing such stunning performances - but I think he might struggle to carry on till the age of 35, like Tapia.

I think guys like Tapia, Morales and Naz can keep getting the best out of him.

I think anyone who hits as hard as Naz will always have a chance against Barrera - I just question Hamed's hunger.

But in terms of Barrera-Tapia, you won't get better quality boxing than that - it was fierce and fast, but they were always thinking about what they were doing."


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