Manny Pacquiao vs Barrera shocker: Roach recalls his favorite bout
In less than three weeks, future Hall of Fame fight legend Manny Pacquiao will enter the professional ring for the 67th time, as he takes on current WBO Welterweight title holder Jessie Vargas at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
When reflecting on the Pacman's illustrious two-decade career in boxing, head trainer and Hall of Fame fight coach Freddie Roach recently singled out a specific performance as his personal favorite since joining forces with the Filipino typhoon in 2001.
"Barrera 1," Freddie stated to FightHub TV. "My favorite fight of all time. It was great."
In November 2003, a young Manny Pacquiao traveled to the renowned Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and upset pound for pound favorite Marco Antonio Barrera in his first assignment within the stacked Featherweight division. Not only did the Philippines Senator defeat the 4 to 1 betting favorite, but the Pacman became the first and only fighter to stop the Mexican fight legend within the distance.
In the mind of the seven-time trainer of the year, the singular performance made Manny Pacquiao a legitmate force within the sport of boxing.
"I thought that really made him [Manny] a superstar," states Roach. "Ledwaba was a great win, but not too many people remember (former IBF Super Bantamweight champion) Lehlo Ledwaba. That fight in Texas...that was a good night."
Leading into the landmark bout in Texas, Marco Antonio Barrera put together an impressive string of eight consecutive victories, including career defining wins over Prince Naseem Hamed, Erik Morales, Kevin Kelley, and the late Johnny Tapia. Not only was MAB becoming one of the biggest names in the sport, but the two division world champion had recently signed a lucrative, multi-fight contract with the newly formed Golden Boy Promotions.
Freddie remembers how important the 11 round KO was in building the legacy and reputation of the Filipino superstar.
"I remember when Barrera knocked Manny down in the first round. It was a kind of a slip, but they counted it as a knockdown. I didn't see it and I said, 'oh s**t'. "
"I was trying to get settled in the corner, I looked up and the referee was already counting over Manny. I said, 'oh my God, is it over?' Then we saw Manny go out and stop him in the eleventh round."
"That was one of my best fights with Manny Pacquiao."
But where does the impressive and seemingly improbable stoppage victory rank all-time among Pacman's most memorable KO performances?
"Ricky Hatton was probably the best KO ever, but that fight with Barrera was a great fight. I love that fight."
Does Senator Pacquiao still have the hunger, willingness, and ability to put forth another awe-inspiring performance at age 37?
Fight fans will find out if Manny is still capable of being "Manny" on November 5.