Childhood & Early Life
Marco Antonio Barrera Tapia was born on 17 January, 1974, in Mexico City, to an affluent Mexican family. His father was a businessman and wanted his son to take over his undertakings. However, Barrera was interested in boxing at a very young age.
Marco’s older brother, Jorge Barrera, was already an amateur boxer who had made a name for himself in Marco’s hometown. This instilled in him an early passion towards the ring and fighting.
Marco Antonio Barrera made his professional debut at the age of 15, in November 1989. He won against David Felix, and this proved to be his first win in his record 43-winning streak. In the next year, he defeated giants, such as Ivan Salazar, Abel Hinojosa, and Javier Diaz.
Although Barrera knew he wanted a career in boxing, he also studied law and continued attending university between his matches. However, he dropped from university after his career as a boxer took off and he had already become a local hero.
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Marco Antonio Barrera won his first professional title when he was 18. He defeated Justino Suarez to clinch the 1992 Mexican Super Flyweight Championship. He continued to defend the title for the rest of the year.
He retained the title of the Mexican Super Flyweight in 1993 and 1994 after defeating the likes of Noe Santillana, Eddie Cook and Carlos Salazar. He also started preparing to fight at the international level.
In 1995, he won his first world title after being crowned the WBO Super Bantamweight champion. He defeated Daniel Jimenez for the title; his success garnered him more attention and he was a popular figure back home.
In 1996, he participated in the HBO series ‘Boxing After Dark’, where he proceeded to defeat Kennedy McKinney, Jesse Benavides, and Orlando Fernandez. He continued his winning streak until November 1996, when he was defeated by the American boxer Junior Jones. He announced his retirement after the defeat.
In 1998, Marco Antonio Barrera announced his return to the boxing scene. He ended up winning his second world title at the WBO Super Bantamweight after defeating Richie Wenton. In the next year, Barrera failed to win new titles.
In 2000, at the Super Bantamweight championship, he was defeated by Erik Morales in a fight that was named by The Ring as the ‘Fight of the Year.’ However, he was later reinstated as the champion and continued defended the title for the rest of the year.
In 2001, his division changed owing to his weight, and he competed in the featherweight division. In April, he won the lineal and IBO featherweight titles after defeating Naseem Hamed ; he later defeated Enrique Sanchez in September.
In 2002, he defended his lineal and IBO featherweight titles against Morales, Johnny Tapia, and Kevin Kelley. His excellent form continued in 2003 till he was defeated by the Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.
In 2004, Barrera started competing in the super featherweight division and won the WBC super featherweight world championship, thus making him a three-division world champion. He retained his title throughout 2004 and 2005.
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In 2006, he retained his featherweight title against the American boxer Rocky Juarez; next year, he lost his championship title to the Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez. Despite a controversial match, the decision of the judges was unanimous.
In October 2007, he contested again for the WBC International Super Featherweight championship to gain another championship, but he was defeated by Manny Pacquiao.
This disappointed Barrera hugely and he announced his desire to retire again. However, there was no official confirmation. He decided to take some time off instead.
In 2008, after a brief absence, he moved to the lightweight division and had memorable matches against Sammy Ventura, Freudis Rojas, and Amir Khan. His match against Amir proved to be the most controversial in his career.
In his match against the British boxer Amir Khan at the MEN Arena in 2009, he sustained a cut after a controversial headbutt. The match was stopped at the fifth round owing to the severity of the injury. At the stoppage, Barrera was announced the winner but he retired injured.
While many expected Barrera to return to the ring without hassle, his injury was serious and he was absent for many years and was inactive in the ring. He found an alternate career as a commentator for ESPN’s weekly boxing show ‘Golpe a Golpe.’
He finally made his comeback to the ring in June 2010 in Brazil against Adailton de Jesus, which he won. His last match was against Jose Arias on February 12, 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico. He ended this with a win as well.
Marco Antonio Barrera was seen in the ESPN TV series ‘Golden Boy on ESPN’ in the episode titled ‘Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Robinson Castellanos.’ Currently, he is often seen as a commentator for local TV networks covering boxing matches.
Awards & Achievements
Marco Antonio Barrera burst through the world with his winning-streak as a professional boxer. At the regional and national level, he won the Mexican Super Flyweight Champion and NABF Super Flyweight Champion in 1993.
He is most remembered for winning championship titles across three divisions. He won the WBO Junior Featherweight Champion from 1995-1996, 1998-2000, and 2000-2001.
He won the WBC Featherweight Champion in 2002 and later won and held the WBC Super Featherweight Champion from 2004 to 2007. At the same time, he won and held the IBF Super Featherweight Champion from 2004 to 2006.
He was ranked among #43 of the 50 greatest boxers of all time by ESPN. He was also named the Comeback of the Year fighter in 2004 by the Ring magazine.