Sergio wins again

By Tom Donelson, BASN boxing writer
Updated: October 3, 2011

Sergio Martinez

Sergio Martinez

IOWA CITY, IOWA—Sergio Martinez defended his title as king of the Middleweights against undefeated British Middeweight Darren Barker but before they were to fight, Brian Vera fought Andy Lee, who was hoping to revenge his only lost to Vera earlier.

Andy Lee began the fight jabbing in the opening minutes as Vera tried to find a way around the jab coming his direction. Over the second half of the opening round, Lee nailed Vera with two solid straight left from his southpaw stance to win the round.

In the second round, Lee control the real estate as Vera failed to change much with an occasional bull rush as Lee merely side stepped Vera. Near the end of the round, Lee nailed Vera with a straight left that sent Vera on his seat after a Vera’s right hand missed.

Lee used Vera aggressiveness against him as Vera became open to Lee counters including solid body shots, rights hooks and a straight lefts over the first three rounds. Lee fought smartly as he used his height and jab to control real estate between him and Vera plus it allowed Lee to counter effectively.

In the fourth round, Vera did managed to connect on a couple of rights but Lee defensive skills improved over his last fight with Vera as he covered up and blocked many of Vera shots. During the stretch run of the round, Lee connected with solid combinations and accidental head butt open up a cut over Vera’s left eye.

By the end of the fifth round, Lee was pitching a shutout and now he had to stay standing to win a very big fight. At the start of sixth round, Lee continued his mastery and at the end of the round, a right hook nearly sent Vera down a second time when Vera right glove touched the canvas. (The referee did not see the glove hit the canvas and if he did, he could have counted that as a knockdown and giving Lee his second 10-8 round.)

With a minute left in the seventh round, Vera had his best rally as he launched three or four body shots followed by a uppercut that penetrated Lee defense but Lee countered with some shots of his own including a nasty right hand hook. Near the end of the eighth round, Lee and Vera exchanged punches as Vera touched Lee with three rights but Vera got nailed by Lee combinations in a close round.

The ninth round was as close as the eighth round but while Vera connected on body shots and right hands, Lee countered once again with his straight left. Vera body shots made the last rounds closer and exciting but it was case of too little and too late. Vera managed to connect on power punches but he left himself open for Lee’s straight left. The judges gave many of those close rounds to Lee as Lee won an easy decision. Lee got his revenge and reinforced his championship contention.

As for the main event, Martinez merely fought tactical first round as he nailed a couple of his patented left hand. As the second round progressed, Martinez started to unload his punches as Barker covered up without attempting to throw many punches. Barker early strategy was to wait for opening as he tried to get closer to Martinez and then maybe wear down Martinez.

A Barker right bloodied Martinez as Martinez moved away from the pursuing Barker, who started to open up in the fourth round. Martinez outworked Barker but Barker did managed to connect on some solid shots in the fourth round.

After the sixth round, Martinez was winning the fight but looked uncomfortable as the young British fighter stayed in front of him and pursuing him but Martinez flurries were allowing to stay in front of his opponent. Barker biggest problem was that he wasn’t throw enough punches to win rounds and even after his corner extorted him to let loose with his punches, Barker showed reluctance. Going into the last four rounds, Barker was behind on the scorecard and the covering up strategy designed to get him to late rounds was working in the sense he was still standing. Barker biggest problem that he had to knock Martinez out to win and to do that, he had to throw punches. Best comment of the night came from Jim Lampley as he noted that Barker was winning the fight with his feet and losing it with his hands.

With a minute left in the round, Martinez staggered Barker with a right hand hook that sent Barker swirling around. After that punch, Martinez threw combinations upon combinations but he couldn’t finish Barker off. In the opening minute of the eleventh round, Martinez went to the body and then unleashed combination while Barker threw a right hand that connected. Martinez ripped off combinations and a right hand hook off Barker’s glove sent Barker down for the count. Martinez won the fight with a late round knockout.

Martinez continued to dazzle as a Middleweight and despite fighting with a bloodied swollen nose, he outworked his challenger. Martinez broke his opponent down in his unique way with body shots and a devastating right hook. Martinez showed he still is the best Middleweight.