Boxing: Khan has to prove worth in battle of ages

Barrera may be at the end of his career, but the veteran is still a danger to Briton

A second in boxing is a long time, six months is history and eight years is ancient history but fighters and their people always trawl through old fights in search of answers to new fights.

Tonight Amir Khan will try and walk through history when he steps back in time against Marco Antonio Barrera in a fight that could make a mockery of the accepted wisdom regarding old men in the ring.

Barrera is an old and scarred man with a reputation for brilliance inside the four ropes where he has worked since he was a 15-year-old boy scrapping for tiny envelopes of dirty pesos in the dark boxing underbelly of Mexico City.

Somehow the tiny flyweight with fast hands and a nasty finish in his trademark left hook to the liver fought his way from the slums to titles and millions and fame. Now, 20 years later he stands in front of Khan and the gaze of about 18,000 people at the MEN arena in Manchester.

Khan is the baby from Athens, the kid of 17 who chased arguably the greatest Cuban boxer in history, Mario Kindelan, all over the ring but had to settle for a silver medal in the lightweight final. At roughly the same time Barrera was winning the World Boxing Council super featherweight title in a third and stunning fight against his great Mexican rival Erik Morales. Some people have noted the dates in their trajectory theories.

There are other dates in this fight and Barrera's people are quick to remember that Breidis Prescott ruined Khan in less than 60 seconds last September. At the same time Barrera was in month 11 of a retirement, getting fat and his hair was turning grey at the ends as he contemplated a life away from the lights. The thought was too much and he dusted off his gloves and quit the safe life.

There is also the night in 2001 when Barrera beat what was left of the once slick and devastating Naseem Hamed in Las Vegas. Khan, a schoolboy hopeful at the time, watched his idol lose at his home in Bolton but that Barrera is lost in history.

Barrera has fought 72 times in 20 years and mixed in the company of the finest fighters of this generation and some from the last generation. He is a true modern great with wins and narrow defeats in some of boxing's most memorable encounters – he has won and lost three world titles in 26 championship fights. He is not an unbeaten, untested kid with a fool's appreciation of boxing's violence but a man shaped by hardship, joy and adversity in the ring.

Khan retreated to a seedy corner of Los Angeles to salvage and continue his ring education after Prescott and joined Freddie Roach's gang at the Wild Card gym. He started to put his boxing life back together by at first dismantling the bulky muscles he had acquired. Roach is a dynamic little enigma with enough open flaws to keep him honest and he has said that Khan will have to get a proper job if he loses to Barrera. Tonight's 12-round fight is all about Khan's recovery and the end of Barrera but it could also be about the end for Khan and an extension for Barrera. The winner will get the chance to fight for the World Boxing Organisation's grown-up lightweight world title.

I suspect that cuts will be a factor and possibly the decisive and generous factor in helping Khan narrowly advance in a fight that could alternatively end in the single second it takes Barrera to find an inch of Khan's exposed and highly vulnerable flesh.

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam