Morales, Pacquiao on horizon for Barrera


Marco Antonio Barrera blew out Mzonke Fana in two rounds Saturday night, defending his WBC super featherweight title at the Don Haskins Center in El
Paso, Texas.

Barrera, who defended the 130-pound belt that he won in his rubber match
victory over Erik Morales last November, improved to 60-4 (42 knockouts) with a
second-round knockout of Fana, the unheralded No. 1 contender who fell to 22-3 (8).

Fana shot out a pretty jab, but that was his only punch of note and it was not nearly enough to hold off a champion of Barrera's caliber and experience. The three-division champion from Mexico City easily
countered Fana's jab with right hands that instantly buzzed the South
African in the first round, opening up the lanky contender to a variety of
other punches -- jabs, hooks and uppercuts.

In the second round, Fana finally dropped a right hand but his aggression
only opened him up for a left hook to the body (which backed him up even
though it was partially blocked), followed by a right cross that hurt him,
followed by a jab that fell short, followed by another right cross that
landed right on the chin that dropped the challenger flat on his back
(causing his head to snap violently on the canvas and the referee to
immediately wave the mismatch off).

Fana complained of being hit low and a quick stoppage after the contest
ended, but in truth he was saved from being seriously hurt by a great
fighter. Now that this silly mandatory defense is out of the way, Barrera
can focus on fighting fellow great fighters such as archrival Morales and
nemesis Manny Pacquiao.

In the co-featured bout to the Golden Boy Promotions card, Fernando Montiel
improved to 30-1-1 (24) with a seventh-round stoppage of Ivan Hernandez.
Montiel, who dropped Hernandez twice in Round 7 with perfect left hooks
to the body, regained the WBO 115-pound title he lost to Mark "Too-Sharp"
Johnson via a close decision in 2003. Hernandez, who dropped to 21-1-1 (13),
won the title with an eighth-round stoppage of Johnson last year.

The few fans that saw Hernandez's title-winning effort thought the Ensenada,
Mexico, native's size and reach might be too much for the smaller Montiel to
deal with. However, after an even first round that saw Hernandez stalk
Montiel behind a strong jab and long-range right hands, the Los Mochis,
Mexico, native took control of the fight with his faster hands, nimble
footwork and uncanny hand-eye coordination.

Montiel countered Hernandez's jab with accurate lead rights and cross-hook
combinations in the early rounds before getting off with his own jab in the
middle rounds and unleashing more aggressive combinations. By round six
Montiel was looking to land his favorite punch -- the left hook to the liver -- and he found the spot in the seventh round, dropping Hernandez for an
eight count with the first body shot that landed and then ending the contest
with another one 20 seconds later, one minute and 48 seconds into the round.

Also on the undercard, 2004 U.S. Olympian Vicente Escobedo scored his second
consecutive impressive first-round KO with an 82-second blowout of Josť Rodriguez. Escobedo improved to 2-0 (2) with a series of right hands that landed on Rodriguez's temple and jaw.

Former amateur standout Aaron Garcia improved to 3-0 with a workmanlike
four-round decision over Bryan Garcia.