Juarez ready for fight of his life


LOS ANGELES (AP) – Rocky Juarez is prepared for the fight of his life.

“This is what I have been waiting for my whole career,” said the 2000 Olympic silver medalist. “I’m in the best shape of my career.”

Juarez, coming off his lone loss as a pro, faces Marco Antonio Barrera on Saturday night for Barrera’s WBC super featherweight title.

“People really haven’t seen the full Rocky Juarez come out. This is a fight I’ve always looked forward to. An opponent like this comes every blue moon,” the 26-year-old from Houston said.

“I have nothing to lose. I’m definitely in the great shape. I want something he has.”

Juarez will take a 25-1 record with 18 knockouts into the scheduled 12-rounder against the 32-year-old Barrera, who is 61-4 with 42 knockouts.

Barrera, from Mexico City, has beaten Erik Morales twice. He has also defeated Jesus Salud, Prince Naseem Hamed, Johnny Tapia, Kevin Kelley and, most recently Robert Peden.

Barrera said he has trained at high altitude to prepare for the fight, calling Juarez a “young strong warrior.”

“We’ve turned it into running and training more,” Barrera said through a translator.

Juarez believes he got the title match only because he lost to Humberto Soto last August and Barrera’s people saw “things they can capitalize on.”

Juarez was impressive despite losing that bout in Rosemont, Ill., as he and Soto kept up a furious pace throughout the fight. Soto took an unanimous decision, with two judges favoring him by one point each, and the other giving him the nod by two points.

“I knew it was going to be a tough fight. It was a mental letdown,” Juarez said. “I did the best I could.”

Unbeaten Janos Nagy of Budapest meets Jorge Rodrigo Barrios of Buenos Aires in the co-main event, a WBO lightweight title match.

“We are coming from a small country but we hope to do big things,” Nagy, 23-0 with 14 knockouts, said through a translator.

Barrios, 45-2-1 with 32 knockouts, said through a translator, “I’m very happy to be here. And I’m ready to fight the winner of Barrera-Juarez.”

Also on the card are a 12-round WBC lightweight bout between Jose Armando Santa Cruz (22-1, 12 knockouts) of Lincoln Heights, Calif., and Chikasethi Inada (19-2, 14 knockouts), from Hiroshima; and a 10-round featherweight match pitting Rey Bautista (19-0, 14 knockouts) from Candijay, Philippines, and Robert Bonilla (23-7, 14 knockouts) from Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua.

Oscar De La Hoya is promoting the bouts through his Golden Boy Promotions.

Associated Press writer Christina Almeida contributed to this report.

AP-ES-05-19-06 1525EDT