Martinez vs. Barker on HBO

By By Francis Walker BASN Boxing writer
Updated: September 27, 2011

Sergio Martinez

Sergio Martinez

NEW YORK, NY (BASN)—Former unified WBC/WBO middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) returns to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday, October 1, to battle unbeaten Darrin Barker (23-0, 14 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round contest. Martinez-Barker is the featured attraction of a special HBO World Championship Boxing telecast beginning at 10 PM/ET. The co-featured bout is a highly anticipated rematch between middleweights Andy Lee vs. Brian Vera.

What makes this HBO telecast special is the fact that a terrific fighter in Martinez will be featured. It will mark Martinez’ seventh-consecutive appearance on HBO dating back to October 2008. It was on HBO, which has proven to be an amazing stalwart for boxing through the years, that Martinez has improved his profile and popularity.

Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, is recognized as the No. 3-ranked fighter in the world pound-for-pound.

Martinez won the unified WBC/WBO 160-pound championships from Kelly Pavlik in dominant fashion on HBO. His two amazing performances against Paul Williams – a razor thin decision defeat in December 2009, followed by a spectacular one-punch knockout last December, are in the HBO archives.

Martinez followed up with his amazing performances on HBO by blitzing Serhiy Dzinziruk (TKO 8) in March.

Martinez, at age 36, signed a six-fight extension with promoter Lou DiBella in the summer. The relationship has proven to be a win-win for both, as DiBella has a flagship fighter in Martinez which will help him maintain a certain number of HBO dates. In addition, promote a number of upcoming prospects on big fight cards Martinez is fighting on. Of course Martinez will secure hefty HBO purses, high profile fights, and watch his profile soar.

Martinez is taking advantage of every opportunity necessary to boost his profile and public appeal. Leading up to the fight with Barker, Martinez’ took time out from his busy schedule to acknowledge the passing of Jamey Rodemeyer, a Buffalo, NY teenager who committed suicide after a year’s worth of being bullied.

“People need to realize that this is a real problem,” Martinez said. “This isn’t just kids poking innocent fun at one another, young children are taking their lives over this. Something has to be done. People need to be made aware of how serious the situation actually is.”

Martinez is using his new-found celebrity to speak out against an issue troubling children in our society. That’s a positive thing because, he’s not calling attention to himself by burning hundred-dollar bills, bragging about how rich and great he is.

Martinez is showing a human, compassionate side that people can relate to and the public will embrace his appeal.

“I realize that noting will bring Jamey back,” Martinez added. “If we can start spreading the word, and getting people to understand the seriousness of bullying, then hopefully we can prevent this from happening to someone else.”

A young teen named Monique McClain will escort Martinez to the ring on Saturday against Barker. McClain is another victim of bullying.

Surely Barker can agree with Martinez’ sentiments. However, his job as the visiting, unknown fighter in these parts, is remain focused on training to figure out a way to counter Martinez’ effective boxer-puncher style.

“The training is going to plan brilliantly,” said Barker, who trained for this fight in Lake Ontario near Niagara Falls. “I’ve never trained harder for a fight, but then again, I have to train because it’s Sergio Martinez, one of the best in the business. I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t put an extra 20 percent every day.”

Barker probably isn’t well-known here in the U.S., but he has a huge following in the United Kingdom. He is a growing fixture on Sky Sports and the U.K. hopeful will come out in droves to support him against Martinez.

“My fans are coming over to see me win, not see me try” Barker added. “I Am a real threat to Sergio, I won’t be happy with just a good showing. I am here to win which is why I’m working double hard.”

Ward injured, Super Six Final postponed

WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward suffered a cut above his right eye during a sparring session last Thursday. Therefore, the Super Six World Boxing Classic finale with WBC champion Carl Froch has been postponed indefinitely. A new date is being sought at this time. The bout was scheduled to occur on Saturday, October 28, from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.

“I ‘m extremely disappointed about the cut,” Ward said in a statement. “We used every precaution, including headgear with a face bar and it was just a fluke situation. My sparring partner and I were involved in exchange inside and the next thing I knew, I was bleeding. “

Ward went on to explain his disappointment and offered apologies top everyone involved with the promotion including Team Froch, whose champion is highly irate.

“This is absurd and unprofessional,” Froch responded. “Ward needs to get his act together. “Of course you have to take the medical advice seriously, but for a cut to put you out of a fight a full five weeks before the event is ludicrous. If it were two weeks out from the fight, maybe I’d understand. But he’s got 35 days to deal with it. To me, he’s showing his weakness. Nothing changes for me. I’ll be ready if and when he shows up.”

The Super Six World Boxing Classic featured the premier 168-pound fighters on the planet competing in a tournament consisting of round-robin and single elimination bouts. Each fighter was guaranteed to fight three times in the Group Stage/round-robin entry. The winners with the highest points accumulated (2 points for each victory- a bonus point for KO/TKO, a loss – 0 points, a draw – 1 point) advanced to the semifinal round.

The tournament, which began in October 2009, has been terrific. However, there were lots of bumps and bruises along the way. Injuries to Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, and Mikkel Kessler nearly ended their careers and had to withdraw. Glen Johnson became a recognizable star. Allan Green had a chance to fight for a world championship. Froch and Ward, after having competed in the most matches, has have an opportunity to become a great fighter by today’s standards by simply winning the tournament finale.

New Legend Boxing takes course

There is a new boxing promotional company that’s taking shape. Based in Woodhaven, NY, New Legend Boxing Promotions have grown accustomed hosting fight cards at the Cordon Bleu in Woodhaven, Queens, NY. There most recent show occurred on Friday, September 23, featuring some pretty grueling and competitive fights.

The main event featured a 10-round welterweight showdown. Brooklyn’s own Michael Wright (11-1-2, 5 KOs) scored two knockdowns en route of a unanimous decision win over Mike Ruiz (15-6, 7 KOs) of Long Island. Ruiz was off to a fast start, throwing blazing combinations that had Wright unsettled. As the fight progressed, Wright settled behind his right-jab out of the southpaw stance and began timing Ruiz with the left hand that landed flush. The fight was very exciting because, both fighters felt the energy of crowd that packed a second-floor Condon Bleu ballroom. Wright was less reckless with his punches and the better disciplined fighter. All three judges scored the bout 98-91, 97-90, and 96-91.

In an eight-round lightweight bout, Jonathan Cuba (6-3-1, 4 KOs) survived a first-round knockdown to claim a split-decision victory against Ariel Duran (7-3-1, 4 KOs).

Cuba’s aggressiveness served him well against the slick-moving Duran, who apparently wasn’t slick enough. Duran kept bobbing and weaving in a corner as if he was Pernell Whitaker, but kept getting tagged like an inexperienced amateur boxer. But it was a tough encounter for both men.

In other bouts: Thomas Harkwick (3-0, 2 KOs) won a four-round decision against Jamell Williams (0-4) in a heavyweight fight. Angel Garcia (1-0, 1 KO) launched a successful professional debut having brutalized Jonathan Caban (0-1) through two rounds. Cruiserweight Hamid Abdul-Mateen (3-2) of Brooklyn, NY, nearly knocked out, but bullied previously unbeaten Queens, NY native, Ahmed Mickens (1-1, 1 KO) through four rounds, but settled for a unanimous decision. The judges scored the bout: 40-36, 39-37 (twice). Welterweight prospect Raijv Bhattacharya (8-0, 6 KOs) settled for a unanimous decision win against a determined, but too easy-to-hit Arthur Medina (13-24, 4 KOs). The scored read: 40-36 (twice) and 39-37.

Lastly, in a featured women’s attraction, Vanessa Greco (2-0), fighting for the first time in four years, battled Tonia Cravens (2-6-2, 1 KO) to a four-round draw. Cravens fought better than her record indicated and Greco didn’t look as though she was away for four years at all. In the opening round, Cravens attacked with jabs that Greco either blocked or side-stepped. Greco had a jab too, but would miss with her overhand right that somehow the taller Cravens ducked underneath.

The difference in the fight was Greco’s infighting. It was from the inside where Greco had an advantage. She was able to work the body effectively and reach Cravens with hooks to the head. Cravens spent time blocking and trying to dodge Creco’s punches from the inside. Greco eventually began timing Cravens’ jab better and backed her up when on the attack.

The judges scored the bout down the middle 38-38 each. I could see a case where Cravens won the first round, round two being close, and Greco winning the last two rounds but a thing margin. Overall, it was a highly competitive and terrific fight.