In an outcome most fight fans expected Darren Barker (23-1, 14 KO's) traveled all the way from London to the Atlantic City boardwalk to suffer his first career defeat at the hands of middleweight champ Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KO's). Despite earning respect for sticking his neck out against a fighter that no one wants to face, the Brit spent most of the night behind his gloves, clipping Martinez with consistent but unsuccessful jabs and the rare power right – one of which did manage to break Martinez’s nose in the fourth round. (Read More at HBO.com)
Outside the Palladium Ballroom at Caesar’s in Atlantic City, Argentinean power-puncher Sergio Martinez weighed in at 158 pounds for his bout Saturday night against Darren Barker, an Englishman who stands out as one of the few fighters willing to take on “Maravilla” for his WBC “Diamond” middleweight belt. The undefeated challenger hit the scales at 159 and one-half pounds.
The fighters’ traditional faceoff lasted for a few intentionally steely seconds before both men cracked smiles and started mugging and flexing for their fans. A platoon of Brits carrying beers chanted “Walking in a Barker Wonderland” (a repurposed version of the Ricky Hatton fight song that had already been strangely repurposed from a Christmas carol), while across the room, a growing crowd of Martinez supporters booed enthusiastically.
The conversation happening online this week has been a bit more nuanced – but also leans more heavily toward Martinez. Here’s what fight fans have had to say:
- @HBO My prediction in a KO victory for Martinez in the middle rounds - a big step up in class for Barker #MartinezBarker – @Sport_Of_Boxing (Twitter)
- I can’t see anyone beating Martinez except maybe but Froch or Hopkins lol.....Martinez is the king – Rice Man (Facebook)
- @hboboxing @hbo @maravillabox knocks down barker twice in the fourth and gets the tko on the five round. #boxing #MartinezBarker – @hurricanenito (Twitter)
- Martinez wins by KO in 7th rd!!!! – Frankie R. (Facebook)
- Don't underestimate Darren Barker. It will be a tough fight for Martinez. – Stuart A. (Facebook)
- Maravilla is the best P4P right now. Period – Red L. (Facebook)
- #MartinezBarker its a KO victory for Martinez. Barker will have a go, but the gulf in class will be evident. Good luck to Barker – @Darloal (Twitter)
- Martinez in the 3rd by ko. Too much for anyone to handle right now ..power and speed .. – Aristeo C. (Facebook)
- Barker tko 7 – Dan C. (Facebook)
- #MartinezBarker outcome is simple... Martinez by a TKO in the 6th. ¡No hay mas na! @hboboxing @maravillabox – @carmonAlejandra (Twitter)
Want your voice heard? Post your take on Martinez-Barker in the comments.
If one listens to the oddsmakers, (Martinez is a 20-1 favorite) Saturday's Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker match will be a perfunctory exercise that will end inside 10 rounds. But boxing has always been an animal that can't easily be tamed, for an underdog is theoretically one punch away from reshaping his reputation. And here's the proof: One spectacular overhand left against Paul Williams turned Martinez from a tricky southpaw into one of boxing's most feared knockout artists and a threat to Manny Pacquiao's pound-for-pound throne.
Can Barker change his fortunes the way Martinez did or will the "smart money" be vindicated? Their respective CompuBox histories tell these stories:
By Eric Raskin
Last year, Sergio Martinez beat the so-called “most avoided man in boxing.” And putting an end to Paul Williams’ run atop those “most ducked” lists (by way of the 2010 Knockout of the Year, no less) transformed Martinez into the new star who struggles to find a proper challenger.
So while “Maravilla” (Spanish for “Wonder”) waits to see if he can lure Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather up two weight divisions, or Miguel Cotto up one division, he’s doing the best he can to keep busy against whatever 160-pounders are willing to fight him. And though the boxing world doesn’t know much about London’s “Dazzling” Darren Barker, the man who challenges Martinez this Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, we do know this much: Barker is very much willing.
Barker took to social media early in the summer to call out the Argentine champ, and the result was the most progressive contract negotiation in boxing history.
By Kieran Mulvaney
A round may last three minutes between rings of the timekeeper’s bell, but punches can come flying at any time. Hence boxing’s primary injunction to protect yourself at all times. It was a lesson young Victor Ortiz learned last Saturday at the readied hands of Floyd Mayweather, and one that British fighter Paul Samuels would likely impress on anyone who listened.
In 2006, middleweight Samuels, a ten-year veteran on the comeback trail after three years out of the ring, cracked his undefeated young opponent halfway through the opening round with a right hand to the temple. His foe’s legs briefly disappeared from under him; he touched the canvas with his gloves, but swiftly leapt back into the vertical position and, before referee Dave Parris could step in to call the knockdown, uncorked a left hand that landed flush on Samuel’s jaw and knocked him out cold.
That undefeated young opponent was Darren Barker. On October 1, slightly more than five years on from that brief but memorable contest, Barker steps onto his biggest stage yet when he confronts world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Like Barker and Mayweather, Martinez possesses his own highlight reel knockout, but there was nothing controversial about the left hand that blitzed Paul Williams, also at Boardwalk Hall, eleven months ago. It was a thing of beauty to most, yet from Williams’ perspective, it was unleashed from the very depths of hell, a blow of lightning speed and immeasurable force that sent Williams down face first onto the canvas, his eyes wide open but sending no signals to his unconscious form.
There are many things that can be said about Sergio Martinez: that his success is all the more remarkable given his late start to the sport, that he is fighting more consistently at a higher level against a higher caliber of opponent than just about anyone else in the sport, or that he is ridiculously and enviably good-looking. As much as all of those, though, is this: The man can flat-out punch.
So great is his punching power, in fact, that when he floored Kermit Cintron for the count in February 2009, Cintron refused to believe it. He simply couldn’t accept that a man could hit him that hard, and so forcefully and persuasively did his argue his case that referee Frank Santore Jr. accepted the assertion that the concussive blow must have been delivered by way of a head butt and, after a confusing delay, allowed the contest to continue. Having dodged a proverbial bullet, Cintron made it to the end of twelve rounds, but promptly ducked a second incoming projectile when what appeared a clear Martinez win was adjudged to have been a draw – making Martinez possibly the only man in boxing history to have won the same bout twice without being awarded a victory.
He’s unlikely to need three, or even two, bites of the cherry against Barker, who will come to fight but seems likely to find himself outgunned. It seems reasonable to assume that Barker will at least, unlike Ortiz, keep his hands up at all times.
Whether that will be enough to save him from joining the likes of knockout victims Ortiz, Samuels, and Paul Williams is a different matter.