A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Barker Wins a Title and Martinez Upset Romero!
HBO began with Nathan Cleverly defending his version of Light heavyweight title against challenger Sergey Kovalev in Cleverly’s hometown of Cardiff Wales. Kovalev began the fight by being aggressive as Cleverly jab did not start until halfway through the round but Kovalev punches forced Cleverly to retreat.
Cleverly managed to cut Kovalev despite being outpunched by the Russian, who landed solid punches in the body and head in the second right. Kovalev nearly ended the fight in the third round as a series of left hook sent Cleverly down for Cleverly first knock down in his career. Kovalev followed up with a series of body shots that sent Cleverly down a second time. Kovalev ended the fight in the opening minute of the fourth round as he simply overwhelmed Cleverly with a series of body shots and a right hand to end the fight. Over three plus rounds, Kovalev threw and connected on triple the punches and that was the story.
Kikio Martinez faced Jhonatan Romero for Romero super bantamweight title. Martinez moved inside Romero longer reach and punished the champ on the inside. Martinez trapped Romero on the rope for most of the first round as he consistently pounded Romero with body shots.
In the second and third round, Romero boxing skills closed the gap in the fight as he threw quick three punch combinations but Martinez power forced Romero to the rope as Martinez threw punches in bunches mostly to the body. From this point, Martinez power simply overwhelmed Romero as he ended it in the sixth round. In the fifth round, a Martinez left hook punctuated the fight and two rights in the sixth round forced the referee to stop the fight. Martinez won an impressive victory over a previous undefeated champion. When Romero had Martinez in the middle of the ring, he was the better fighter but Martinez neutralized Romero boxing skills by hurting Romero with hard shots and he kept Romero on the rope in the fourth thru the sixth round.
In the Middleweight division, Daniel Geale defended his IBF Middleweight title against Darren Barker, who gave the recognized Middleweight title Sergio Martinez a good fight before losing. While Geale landed some solid short punches, most of the bigger punches over the first three minutes were landed by Barker. Throughout the second round, Geale landed several short punches over the first two minutes but Barker landed solid shots that shook Geale over the final minutes and his right hand found a home.
Geale felt his advantage was his stamina and he attempted to take control of the fifth round as he hoped to wear Barker down with a barrage of body shots. Near the end of the round, Barker returned the favor by landing his own barrage of the body shots as the seconds counted down in the round.
In a close six round, Geale landed a right hand and left hook that sent Barker down. The punch came out of nowhere and Barker spent the next minute surviving before he nailed Geale with a right hand that sent Geale reeling into the round. The miracle was that Barker got up from what was an apparent liver shot, a punch fighters rarely get up from.
In the eighth round, Barker started to land some solid shots, left hooks to the body and solid right hand to Geale’s face. If Barker looked out on his feet in the sixth round, Barker landed the more telling blows in the seventh thru ninth round.
Going into the championship, HBO Jim Lampley described this as the war on the shore (since the bout was held in Atlantic City) as they pounded each other throughout the eleventh round. While both fighters took turns pounding each other but Barker connected on more punches. In the twelfth round, Geale may have hurt Barker with a minute left but Barker comeback ability allowed him to survive the round and even land punches over the last thirty seconds. Barker won a close split decision and won a title bout in a fight that was all action. Both fighters gave a solid performance but Barker had the slight edge which was reflected in compubox numbers, which also gave Barker the slight edge in punches connected.
Thomas Dulorme concluded the HBO telecast fighting Francisco Figueroa in a battle of junior welterweights. Over the first three rounds, Dulorme proved the bigger fighter and this was shown in the third round as Dulorme nailed Figueroa with a left hook followed by right hand uppercut hat sent Figueroa down for a quick eight count.
Dulome repeated this with another knock down in the fifth round but lost a point for a low blow, his second low blow in the bout. Dulorme continued his assault and ended the fight with a flurry that not only hurt Figueroa but also trapped him in the corner. With no punching coming back, the referee ended the fight.
This was a night of some great competitive boxing and maybe the highlight, Darren Barker winning a close bout to win his first title.