Boxing returns to pay-per-view this weekend as HBO offers a card headlined by Mexican superstars Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez. In addition to the Super Featherweight Title main event, a Super Bantamweight Title will be on the line as Daniel Ponce De Leon makes his fourth title defense. Demetrius Hopkins will also be on the card as Bernard’s nephew faces his toughest opponent to date, The Contender runner-up Steve Forbes.
Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
Money Lines: Barrera -115; Marquez -115
Not only is Barrera’s WBC Super Featherweight Title on the line, but so is the label of “Mexico’s Best Fighter.” Marco Antonio Barrera, 63-4 (42 KOs), has already established his legacy as an icon of Mexican boxing with his fights against Erik Morales. Known as the Baby Faced Assassin, Barrera is now 33 years old and looking to wind down a Hall of Fame career. His penchant for brawls quickly endeared him to Mexican boxing fans and later to boxing fans worldwide.
Juan Manuel Marquez is another fighter beloved in the Mexican community but without the blood-stained resume that Barrera holds. Marquez, 46-3-1 (35 KOs), is a former world champion at featherweight. He is stepping up for what will be the highest profile fight of his career after a Barrera/Manny Pacquiao deal couldn’t be reached. Marquez seemed destined for an illustrious career but poor management decisions kept him from getting to the point where Barrera is atop Mexico’s pugilistic pedestal.
This fight is currently even money in Vegas. Couple that with the fact that both men are promising a war in the ring and this could end up being one of the best and most dramatic fights of the year. Neither man wants to return to Mexico as the loser and I would expect that to be shown in the ring. Barrera showed his boxing ability in his rematch victory over Rocky Juarez and has won six fights in a row. Marquez does not have as impressive a resume as Barrera and will be fighting at super featherweight for the first time. This is a fight that Mexican fans have been waiting nearly six years to see. I can’t imagine the fight being disappointing from an entertainment standpoint. Marquez needs the win more but Barrera will end up being the better man.
Prediction: Marco Antonio Barrera by unanimous decision
Daniel Ponce De Leon vs. Gerry Penalosa
Money Lines: De Leon -200; Penalosa +160
I’m surprised Ponce De Leon isn’t a bigger favorite than the money line is giving. Penalosa is a tough guy that has never been knocked out but De Leon is on a tear and ought to win easier than the 2 to 1 spread would dictate. De Leon has only one loss and has scored a knockout in 28 of his 30 wins. He has held the WBO Super Bantamweight Title for a little over a year now but has yet to fight any deserving opponents. His toughest opponent to date is Celestino Caballero. Caballero beat De Leon. Penlosa is a step in the right direction in terms of a quality opponent but no one that will propel Daniel Ponce De Leon into the upper echelon of the super bantamweight division.
Penalosa, 51-5-2 (34 KOs), was once a world champion in the flyweight division but has lost in his last four world title opportunities. He fights as a southpaw and has Freddie Roach in his corner, so Penalosa will not make things easy for De Leon. The result, however, seems inevitable. De Leon is eight years younger than the 34-year-old Penalosa and I think he will be stopped for the first time in his career.
Prediction: Daniel Ponce De Leon by TKO in the 7th round.
Demetrius Hopkins vs. Steve Forbes
Money Lines: Hopkins -210; Forbes +170
This is an interesting matchup. Both fighters have a bit of familiarity to boxing fans, something uncommon on pay-per-view undercards. Demetrius Hopkins, 25-0-1 (10 KOs), is the nephew of future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. Bernard has been instrumental in Demetrius’ career and also acts as his manager. Demetrius has been featured on ESPN many times and while not known for his knockout power, delivered a gruesome KO to Michael Warrick in the middle of last year.
Stephen Forbes, 32-4 (9 KOs) made a name for himself on the second season of The Contender. Forbes stood out as one of the most skilled fighters on the show and made it to the finals where he lost a split decision to Grady Brewer. Forbes had difficulty with Brewer’s size in that fight and Demetrius Hopkins will pose a similar problem for Forbes. It’s a safe matchup for Hopkins and while Bernard’s nephew may end the fight with a late knockout, 12 rounds of boring seems like a more apt result.
Prediction: Demetrius Hopkins by unanimous decision.
“Fearless” is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and can be seen live on HBO PPV this Saturday, March 17th from Las Vegas, NV. The broadcast begins at 9pm ET and carries a $44.95 price tag. Do yourself a favor. Save your money and watch March Madness. Then catch the replay of the main event the following week on HBO.