Team Martinez celebrates the knockout.
WBC Diamond Middleweight Champion Retains Title in Atlantic City
Englishman Darren Barker (23-1, 14 KOs) presented a stiffer challenge than most would have expected on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, but the end result would come as anticipated when WBC Diamond Middleweight Champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs) used a swinging right hook to stop his game opposition. The blow came at the 1:27 mark in the 11th round of a rather competitive battle, with the Argentine champion scoring his 27th career knockout when Barker was unable to beat a 10-count following the hard shot to the head.
“Every challenger is a strong challenger and has their own way,” Martinez said after the bout. “I knew it would be this kind of fight. I planned for this.”
Martinez put his elusive quickness on display from the onset of the opening bell, popping in and out of action with blows to the body of Barker in the first round. By the time of the second frame, the Argentine had dropped his hands to the side of his body, trying to lure his British counterpart into confrontation. Barker initially was timid in the approach by Martinez, but he started to come forward in the third round and seemingly began to gain confidence after being able to touch his opponent on a couple of occasions.
The fourth round saw the best action to that point of this affair, with some heated exchanges occurring. Martinez rattled Barker late in the frame with a flurry, but the Englishman recovered and had even bloodied the nose of his opposition when he landed a stiff right hand earlier in the round.
“When a fighter breaks his nose early in the fight, it doesn’t make you feel great,” promoter Lou DiBella told the media after the bout. “I wasn’t sitting there laughing.”
Despite the damage to his nose, Martinez continued to fight with his hands to his side, while Barker was beginning to find his jab a bit and started to come forward more aggressively as he seemed to garner more confidence. As the eighth frame rolled out, Martinez began firing off more combination work, with the southpaw rolling off his lead jab as he looked for openings. Both fighters were more than willing to engage when the action got into a close range affair, but it was Martinez who really started to dominate in the 10th round. He first rocked Barker with a left hand midway through the frame, peppering him with punches on the ropes and grabbing significant hold of the momentum. In the latter portion of the round, the Argentine caught his British counterpart with a big right hook and clearly hurt him in the process. Martinez then pounced and threw shots in bunches, working both the body and head. He continued to explode until the bell sounded, but a tough Barker was able to survive the frame.
He would not be so lucky in the ensuing round.
In the 11th frame, Martinez truly began to show his class as he completely took over the action. Midway through the round, he blasted Barker with a thunderous right hook that was partially blocked and dropped him to the canvas in what would be the last punch of the night. The game British fighter made an attempt to return to his feet, but he would stumble back to the floor before being able to beat the 10-count.
At the time of the knockout, Martinez led the score cards by counts of 99-91, 97-93 and 96-94, as all three ringside judges had seen the action unfold differently. The Argentine champion out-punched his British opposition, 691-408, in this pairing, landing 206 shots to Barker’s 155.
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