History | Feb 19 2020

On This Day: Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales opened one of the deepest grudges in boxing history

Paul Wheeler tells the story about the first time Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera punched each other in the face on February 19, 2000
WBC super-bantamweight champion Erik Morales trades with Marco Antonio Barrera  |  JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images

“YOU can’t beat it – two ruthless, cold-eyed, dark-haired punchers, both respected champions who will give and sacrifice all to win. This 12-rounder possesses the key ingredients to produce a match as fiery and full of passion as any past all-Mexican showdown.”

So said BN ahead of the super-bantamweight unification clash between Tijuana’s WBC ruler Erik Morales and Mexico City’s WBO boss Marco Antonio Barrera. And how accurate that description turned out to be, as the two proud warriors went toe-to-toe for 12 brutal, uninhibited and electrifying rounds. Not even a hotly disputed conclusion could take away from the captivating carnage that was on show.

In the build-up, Morales had claimed that he floored Barrera during a sparring session many years previously. The “Baby-Faced Assassin” said it was a slip and he had been knocked down “only in Erik’s dreams”. The hostility between the pair was evident even before the first bell, with no touching of gloves taking place until the final round.