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)
Entries in Darren Barker (6)
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.
By Kieran Mulvaney
Kieran Mulvaney reads between the lines of a few of the latest stories in the boxing…
They Said: Nine days after his controversial knockout by Floyd Mayweather, Victor Ortiz held a conference call with reporters on Monday. Ortiz insisted that the knockout blow, which came while Ortiz was evidently trying to apologize (for the third time, it should be emphasized) for a headbutt that had just earned him a point deduction, was “a cheap shot.” Mayweather, he insisted, “is not respected by me and never will be in my eyes as a pound-for-pound fighter.”
I Say: That call, which also included Ortiz’s manager and his promoter Oscar De La Hoya, all three insisting that Ortiz was winning the fight until the knockout and demanding a rematch, was ill-advised. Ortiz lost virtually every moment of that fight; he needs simply to accept he was taught a painful but valuable lesson by a masterful veteran, pick up his career and fight his way back to the top. He’s done it before. He can do it again.
They Said: Speaking in advance of his middleweight title defense on HBO on Saturday, Sergio Martinez complimented Darren Barker for rising to the challenge. “The fact that Barker is willing to step up and put his undefeated record on the line shows you that he has a lot of heart and that he is a true warrior, which isn't the case for all fighters,” he said.
I Say: It’s a strange state of affairs when the middleweight champion has to express gratitude for having a willing challenger, but such is the curious case of Martinez. Several other potential opponents appeared to have other pressing appointments that prevented them from fighting for the middleweight crown, which is a sign of just how good Martinez is. Credit to Barker and his promoter, who threw down the gauntlet over Twitter, where it was rapidly picked up by Martinez and promoter Lou DiBella. (You can read more about the fight in Eric Raskin’s overview on HBO.com.)
They Said: “Just finished Cotto-Margarito II Face Off. Oh. My. God.” @Max_Kellerman, September 22.
I Say: The back story for the December 3 rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito writes itself: Margarito’s brutal beatdown victory was his finest hour but it was tarnished six months later by the discovery, prior to the Mexican’s fight against Shane Mosley, of tampered hand wraps. Cotto has long made it clear that he believes Margarito cheated against him that night in July 2008, and for years was unwilling to fight him again. As Kellerman’s tweet underlines, the hate between the two burns fiercely, increasing anticipation for the rematch two months from now.
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.