Former junior lightweight titlist Jorge Barrios was forced to withdraw from his fight against former three-division champion Erik Morales when a judge in Argentina would not allow Barrios to leave the country, Golden Boy's Eric Gomez said Tuesday.
Barrios was due to travel to Tijuana, Mexico, on Tuesday ahead of a 138-pound fight in Morales' hometown on Saturday night. However, according to Gomez, a travel permit that had previously been approved was withdrawn at the last minute.
In January, Barrios was involved in a car accident in which a pregnant woman was killed, which led to a lengthy court case. Barrios was eventually exonerated and resumed his career after an 11-month layoff in October.
According to Gomez, "about a month ago he got the green light to travel" for the Morales fight. "The judge approved Barrios to travel and everything was fine," Gomez said. "He was supposed to pick up the special travel permit on Monday and then travel on Tuesday."
However, Gomez said he was told by Mario Arano, the promoter from Argentina who is Golden Boy's partner on Barrios, that the family of the woman who had been killed had gone to court seeking to reopen the case and wanted to stop him from leaving the country.
Gomez said that Arano told him that during a hearing on Monday, the judge told Barrios she would need some time to review the case. The judge was a different judge than one originally assigned to the case because that judge was on vacation, Gomez said.
"The judge made a remark and said she needed some time and I guess the attorney [for Barrios] snapped at her that the decision had already been made by the other judge," Gomez said. "She got upset and said, 'It's my decision now.'
"After a recess, [the judge] said it was not a good idea for Barrios to travel and she denied it. Barrios is appealing, but there's no time. The original judge was on early holiday and gone for the rest of the month," Gomez said.
Golden Boy was providing the services of Barrios for the fight, but because of its close relationship with Morales, Gomez spent much of Tuesday working on securing a replacement, which he did late in the day.
Morales will face former world title challenger Francisco Lorenzo (35-8, 16 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. The other candidate was David Rodela (15-3-3, 6 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., who is promoted by Golden Boy. Morales opted for Lorenzo.
Golden Boy had made a deal for Morales-Barrios to be televised in the United States on ESPN Deportes, but with Barrios out, the network said it was unlikely to carry the fight.
Morales (50-6, 35 KOs) returned from a 2½-year retirement in March and has won both of his fights. He outpointed former lightweight titlist Jose Alfaro in a March welterweight fight and knocked out Willie Limond in the sixth round at 143 pounds on Sept. 11.
Barrios (50-4-1, 35 KOs), who returned from his 11-month layoff on Oct. 1 to take a lopsided 10-round decision from Wilson Alcorro, would have represented by far the most notable opponent of Morales' comeback.
In beating Alcorro, Barrios, 34, won his third fight in a row since suffering a gruesome 11th-round TKO loss to Rocky Juarez in September 2008, during which his lip and cheek were horribly cut.
Morales, 34, a former junior featherweight, featherweight and junior lightweight champion, has designs on becoming the first Mexican fighter to win world titles in four weight classes. He and Golden Boy have talked about him eventually returning to the 135-pound lightweight division to face champion Juan Manuel Marquez, who is promoted by Golden Boy.
That fight, which would be enormous in Mexico, is one that Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer has talked to both fighters about making. However, it remains to be seen if Marquez will stay at lightweight in the wake of his Nov. 27 knockout victory against Michael Katsidis or move up to the star-studded 140-pound junior welterweight division.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.