It was the best Monte Barrett has ever been.
Those are the words of Barretts manager Stan Hoffman after the South Jamaica native dominated highly touted Dominick Guinn in a 10-round heavyweight bout at the Alltel Arena in Little Rock, Ark. Saturday night.
But this was not the usual post-fight rhetoric.
This was the truth.
The 32-year-old former All-city football player at John Adams shocked the partisan home crowd, consistently snapped his jab, defended well and kept his balance throughout the HBO-televised bout.
And in the end Barrett walked away with a split-decision win over previously undefeated Guinn and could set himself up for a rematch against Baby Joe Mesi, to whom he lost a controversial majority decision at Madison Square Garden in December.
I was so focused for this fight, Barrett said. I had a lot to prove to myself and my camp. I knew I was getting the victory. I told people before but no one believed me.
After splitting the first four rounds with Guinn, who hails from nearby Hot Springs, Ark. and went to the same high school as former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Hot Springs High School), Barrett won five of the last six rounds.
Arkansas judge Sonny Ingram somehow ruled in favor of Guinn, 96-94, while Elmo Adolph and Gale Von Hoy gave Barrett the advantage, 97-93. The TimesLedger also had the fight 97-93 in favor of Barrett, who improved to 30-3.
The most important thing that kept me going in this fight was my jab, keeping my right hand up and my balance, Barrett said, not just in this fight but all my fights from here on.
Barrett nearly floored Guinn in the opening minute of the seventh round with a left hook and an uppercut that staggered Guinn to the ropes. But Barrett missed several wild punches and tired as the round went on.
Ive been throwing so many left hooks and jabs that I forgot to throw my right, Barrett said. I was pleased with my performance in the seventh even through I wanted to stop him.
Challenged by his corner, Guinn responded in the eighth round, but in his most consistent effort of his career, Barrett, who fought for the first time under trainer Harold Knight and promoter Lou DiBella, won both the ninth and 10th rounds.
According to CompuBox statistics, Barrett landed 30 more punches and threw 158 more punches than Guinn, who fell to 24-1.
As for whats next for Barrett, thats more than just a cliché.
Im going to Disney World with my kids, he said. I was training for 6 1/2 weeks for this fight and it paid off.
And after that?
After Disney, were going to try and call out Mesi. Theres an August date available, and right now HBO not only knows he is capable of beating Mesi, but they could have the new rising star in Monte Barrett, Hoffman said. Mesis the guy we want. We want to finish our unfinished business.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2004 Community News Group
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