Darren Barker went over to Atlantic City in New Jersey to fight for the WBC Middleweight Championship of the World on Saturday night against Sergio Martinez. He was the strongly regarded underdog when he went into the ring to fight the world ranked number 3 pound for pound champion Martinez, and few people (including Myself) wasn’t giving him much of a chance to last the distance, let alone win.
The fight got off to a shaky opener when Michael Buffer introduced Darren as ‘Darren Baker’, which wasn’t the best of introductions I have heard, especially from such a respected announcer such as him and it was also reported that ticket sales for the fight were not that great. Barker had his 300 strong army of British supporters who had travelled across the pond to see him in action, and the only disappointment was the end result.
The fight started with Martinez goading Barker with his extremely low guard and chin sticking out a mile to get Barker into range, and then counter with his explosive left hand, but Barker chose to fight very smartly with his excellent upright guard, and his chin tucked tightly behind this. Matinez kept up this stance for the remaining rounds and Barker kept his cool superbly and wasn’t tricked into making many silly mistakes, by not allowing Martinez anywhere near him. Barker attacked and defended beautifully but was caught with some good shots from Martinez but took them very well. Martinez, who seemed to be not firing on many cylinders, let alone all of them, was having real problems with getting to Barker and by round 3 his nose looked in a bit of a mess with blood pouring from it. The corner had to work hard to stem the flow of this, and you could see Martinez was not a happy man in there by this point.
In the later rounds Martinez was probably slightly behind on points and this showed when he came out for the later rounds and upped his game plan in rounds 8,9,10 and in the eleventh round his supreme fighting power shone through when he gave a clubbing hook to Barkers head and then went to finish him off in true Martinez style. Barker was floored for the first time in the fight, but was unable to make the count and the fight ended in round 11. Martinez looked relieved more than jubilant in his victory and I think Barker surprised him with his great British boxing skills.
Barker did Himself, his team (and his country) very proud and I am sure this will not be the last time he gets a genuine shot at a World Title in the USA. I admit I was wrong in my prediction of an early stoppage and I take my hat off to Darren who showed a true champion’s spirit against one of boxing’s most respected and dangerous pugilists. As far as Sergio’s next opponents, after a performance like this, I couldn’t predict who this will be against as the possibility of a mega fight against Floyd Mayweather might not now be in the near future…. but who knows?