How the epic rivalry between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales turned into friendship

The two Mexican greats treated boxing fans to 36 rounds of incredible skill, heart and bravery.

Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales will always be remembered for their incredible fights - they were that good, it ended up becoming a trilogy of wars.

Thirty-six rounds, three world titles and a divided Mexico: it had everything.

Unlike Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward, the pair never embraced each other after the final bell, it was pure hatred between two proud Mexican warriors.

The three fights took place between 2000-2004.

The first bout is regarded as the best super bantamweight bout of all-time, with Morales controversially winning via split-decision.

After defeat in 1996, Barrera said: "If I had Don King as my promoter, I probably would of won."

In return, Morales branded his fellow compatriot "a m***********."

Barrera would win the next two by unanimous decision and majority-decision with the third bout being named Ring Magazine's 2004 Fight of the Year.

Challenger Marco Antonio Barrera celebrates winning the IBF/WBC Super Featherweight title after victory over Erik Morales
Challenger Marco Antonio Barrera celebrates winning the IBF/WBC Super Featherweight title after victory over Erik Morales

Foes turned friends

The question is, why did these two hate each other so much?

"We had many problems and many problems in the press.

"We had problems playing football, and members of our teams switched sides and there was a lot of gossip going around between the two camps," Morales confirmed.

"When we were young, we did what we had to do," Morales added.

"It was a sporting rivalry that unfortunately got personal, but in the end, what people remember us for are those great fights that we gave to the sport."

Their long-running feud finally ended in 2017 when Barrera inducted his native into the Navada Boxing Hall of Fame.

Rivalry set to be renewed

Prior to the pandemic, the pair had ended their sporting rivalry and were having meals together and doing exhibitions.

It now appears they will follow the trend of Mike Tyson's comeback by renewing their rivalry with a fourth fight later this year.

The pair are scheduled to collide on July 16 in a six-round exhibition bout with the location to be decided within the next week. Proceedings will go towards people impacted by Coronavirus.

Barerra - the Baby Faced Assassin - retired in 2011 having won world titles in three divisions with a record of 67-7-1.

He is known for his fights against "Prince" Naseem Hamed, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Johnny Tapia.

Meanwhile, Morales fought identical opposition, with another trilogy with Pacquiao and like Bareera, he defeated Kevin Kelley.

He won four world titles in as many weight divisions and became the first Mexican to do so in 2011 with victory over Pablo Cesar Cano.

Danny Garcia sent Morales into retirement in 2012 while Barrera hung the gloves up one year earlier following victory over Jose Arias.

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