Why Won't Anyone Admit Barrera Was Robbed?

Here is the indisputable fact of the Amir Khan/Marco Antonio Barrera travesty that took place in Manchester this past Saturday night -- Barrera was robbed. The whole thing was an absolute joke and the referee and doctor on the scene should be ashamed of themselves, as should Khan and his handlers for carrying on as if this was a remarkable victory instead of a complete miscarriage of justice. ↵

↵(If you didn’t see the fight, here it is in its entirety, in HDizzle no less.) ↵

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↵If you’re disinclined to watch that whole vid right now, let me just explain to you all that you need to know about this fight. In the first round, a colossal and completely accidental clashing of heads opened a cut on Barrera’s forehead around his hairline. It was a long and deep gash that sent sheets of blood pouring down into Barrera’s left eye, so bad that I say without reservation that it was at least one of the five worst cuts I’ve ever seen a fighter endure in all my years of watching fights. ↵

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↵Given the severity of the wound, here is what should have happened: The referee should have immediately interrupted the action and had the cut inspected by the ringside doctor, at which point the doctor either would have stopped the fight right then and there, or given Barrera, at his volition, one more round to see if his corner could stop the massive bleeding that was so dramatically impairing his vision. Because the cut was much too bad to be stopped his corner, the fight then unquestionably would have been stopped during the second round when it became clear that the flow of blood was going to continue unabated and make fighting impossible for Barrera. In that the cut was caused by an accidental clash of heads, the bout would have been ruled a no-contest. Which would have been a massive drag, but it happens in there, and it’s the only fair thing to do, because no one deserves to lose a fight that way. ↵

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↵So, that’s the way it should have gone. Here’s the way it did go: The referee didn’t refer Barrera to the ringside doctor until the fourth round despite that he fought the rest of the first and the ensuing three rounds with a face full of blood that blinded his left eye and made him all but helpless to Khan’s right hand. As far as I could see, the ringside doctor didn’t even venture over to Barrera’s corner to inspect the cut during that entire time. It was if nothing had happened. ↵

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↵When the doctor did look at the cut in the middle of the fourth, he let the fight keep going before finally stopping it in the fifth round. The reason for that delay couldn’t be more obvious, and calculated, and crooked. Once it goes into the fifth round, any fight stopped by a cut resulting from an accidental head-butt goes to the scorecards for a decision, whereas short of five rounds, it is ruled a no contest. You see where this is going, I imagine. After the cut happened, and the blood made a mask of his face, Barrera was highly vulnerable in there. He fought nobly, as is his way, but he was a one-eyed fighter in retreat. Khan, who admittedly has great speed and accuracy, had an absolute field day picking apart the wounded Mexican. ↵

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↵And with the fight stopped in the fifth, the scorecards predictably read a unanimous rout for Khan, who celebrated as if he had actually won something and not been the beneficiary of a blatant bit of home-cooking. While Khan beat his chest, Barrera paced the ring flabbergasted at what had just transpired. “I was cut very badly,” he said with disgust in his post-fight interview. “They should have stopped the fight in the first round.” ↵

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↵Let’s cut back two Saturday’s ago for a moment here and revisit the Robert Guerrero/Daud Yordan fight on HBO’s Boxing After Dark card in San Jose. Guerrero was badly cut above his right eye in the second round. The ref did the right thing, immediately halting the action and directing Guerrero to the ringside doctor, who stopped the fight then and there, seemingly at Guerrero’s urging. Guerrero has since taken a lot of flak for that behavior, because he was fighting on a big-time HBO card in front of his hometown fans and boxing is a sport where quitting is never looked upon fondly in any circumstances. ↵

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↵Given what became of Barrera over in Manchester, however, Guerrero’s decision looks pretty sound in retrospect. Boxing is a violent game of human speed chess where moves and counter-moves are made in a matter of milliseconds. It’s a hard enough game to play with both eyes open wide. If one of them gets closed by forces beyond your control, why risk suffering a loss, and a beating, that you simply don’t deserve? ↵

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↵The thing is, Barrera is the genuine embodiment of The Mexican Warrior, not to mention the fact that he’s a living legend and future Hall-of-Famer. He would never pull out of a fight like Guerrero did or ask a doctor to stop a fight, not in a million years, not even if it were clearly in his best interest to do so. That’s the referee’s and the doctor’s job, to protect a fighter both in the interests of his health and the general fairness and integrity of the sport. ↵

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↵In this case, with a packed house of rabid Manchurians present and much at stake for Khan’s future, integrity was thrown out the window, and with it the career of one of the greatest fighters of this generation. I don’t understand why more outrage isn’t being expressed by the boxing community about the situation at the moment, why everyone seems so willing to sign on to the presiding interpretation of what happened Saturday night -- that Khan destroyed a past-his-prime Barrera and looked great in doing so. ↵

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↵As for Khan looking great, let me say that I guarantee you two things: 1) If Khan had suffered that cut and the fight had been allowed to continue, Barrera would have looked equally dominant in destroying Khan, and 2) If Khan had suffered that cut, we never would have seen Barrera’s dominance, because the fight would have been stopped in either the first or second round like it should have been. ↵

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↵In conclusion, do I think Khan would have beaten Barrera on a level playing field? I honestly don’t know. Based on what I saw in the 90 seconds or so before Barrera was cut, I think it was going to be a very good fight, with Khan moving backwards and sharp-shooting his laser combos while Barrera stalked and looked for that one perfect counter that would prove the equalizer. ↵

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↵Now, though, we’ll never find out, as the press on both sides of the Atlantic bizarrely sees fit to hail Khan for an impressive and redemptive victory over a faded legend. Only Khan himself has the power to set the whole thing straight right now, and if he had any guts, he would drop his “I proved my point” sham routine, admit that he was the victor of a highly dubious contest and the only just thing to do about it is give Barrera a rematch. ↵

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↵Will he do that? Of course not, and to that I say shame on him, and shame on them all. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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