LAS VEGAS – Former WBO superbantamweight, WBC featherweight and WBC superfeatherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera confirmed the other day he is arriving in the Philippines to accompany his fighter Moises Fuentes who will challenge WBO lightflyweight titleholder Donnie Nietes in Cebu on Feb. 2.
Barrera, 38, was on the Mexican TV panel that broadcast the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here Saturday night. He was joined in the panel by another Mexican ring legend Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. Barrera’s brother Jorge is Fuentes’ registered manager.
“It will be my first time in the Philippines and I’m looking forward to meeting my Filipino friends, including Manny,” said Barrera who lost twice to Pacquiao, once on a stoppage in 2003 and the second time, on points in 2007.
Fuetes, 27, is the reigning WBO minimumweight king and will move up to the 108-pound class to face Nietes. His record is 16-1, with 8 KOs compared to Nietes’ slate of 31-1-3, with 17 KOs. The 5-7 1/2 Fuentes has a distinct height advantage over the 5-3 Nietes who is making the second defense of the title he wrested from Ramon Garcia last year. Fuentes is hoping to follow in Nietes’ footsteps as the Filipino also held the WBO 105-pound title.
Fuentes could be Nietes’ toughest challenger but the Mexican knows it won’t be easy beating the Filipino in his hometown. Nietes has a reputation in Mexico as a “Mexicutioner” having repulsed three Mexican challengers in Mexico during his reign as WBO minimumweight champion. Fuentes is fresh from a fifth round demolition of the legendary Ivan Calderon in Puerto Rico and his only loss was a decision to Juan Hernandez last year.
“Nietes is a very smart fighter,” Fuentes told The STAR. “I’m not afraid to fight him in the Philippines. I respect all Filipino fighters, they’re the best next to Mexican fighters. I notice that with Nietes, he starts strong and is dangerous in the first few rounds but he fades in the late rounds and slows down. That is a weakness I will take advantage of. I will start hard training next week. I won’t enjoy Christmas and New Year. I’ll be working hard to be in the best condition for Nietes.”
Jorge Barrera said he has lined up superflyweights to spar with Fuentes. “I want Moi to spar with bigger guys so he develops more power,” said Barrera. “Moi is already a great Mexican world champion and will be even greater when he beats Nietes.”
Fuentes, who was here to witness the Marquez-Pacquiao fight at ringside, was recently named the “revelation of the year” by the Mexican magazine Box Y Lucha (Boxing and Wrestling). His rise to fame was described as meteoric. Fuentes’ win over Calderon stamped his class as a top-caliber fighter. Calderon controlled the action with his jab in the first two rounds but couldn’t hold back Fuentes who turned it into a massacre before referee Luis Pabon stepped in at 1:22 of the fifth.
Marco Antonio Barrera turned pro in 1989 and hasn’t fought since halting Jose Arias in February last year. He fought Erik Morales in a monumental triology, winning twice, and once lost a decision to Marquez.