3rd October 2011

Darren Barker’s bid to claim Argentinian Sergio Martínez’s WBC Diamond middleweight title, ended with an 11th-round knockout in American on Saturday night.

The unbeaten European champion had started the fight well and caused Martínez problems in the early rounds at the Boardwalk Hotel in Atlantic City, but as the fight wore on Martinez came on strong to take the play away from the buoyant English man, who did himself proud with a gallant performance.

The win gave Martinez his third straight knockout win, but he was made to work hard for his victory against the un-fancied London underdog who surprised the critics using his skills, height and reach advantage to keep the champion at bay in the early rounds, breaking Martinez’s nose in the fourth with his text book jab and right cross.

But after Barker’s early success, Martinez began to adapt to the challengers style and the sign of a good champion is someone who can change his tactics during a fight. He began to throw his punches in clusters, which started to give Barker problems and break down his high peek a boo defence.

Barker was always in the fight up until the finish and gave Martinez one of his hardest nights work, matching the champion in the middle part of the fight, he stood his ground and took the fight to him.

As the bout entered the final rounds, Barker tried his best to keep pace with the champion but was now starting to fall behind and it now began to look like the step up in class was starting to show as the Englishman shipped more and more shots.

Barker 29, opened up in then the 11th round and took the fight to foe, but it proved his last hooray. Martinez then delivered the shot that eventually put an end to Barkers challenge and retain his belt. 

A right hook to the side of the head caught Barker who for a moment stiffened and looked off balance at first glance, but he sunk to the canvas and rolled onto his back. He tried to get up but with his legs disobeying, the referee counted him out.

“I can’t remember the punch,” said Barker after the fight.

“My legs just fell out from under me. I was trying to get up, but couldn’t, I didn’t feel he was a massive puncher before that.”

Barker, suffering defeat for the first time, saw his record fall to 23 wins, 14 by knock out and a single defeat. However, his reputation and stature have greatly improved despite the loss.

“I could have survived and lost on points but that’s not what I’m about and that’s not what boxing is about. I’m still devastated but the support of had from my family, my team and the amazing British fans eases the pain.

“I’m looking forward to the rest and hopefully we can manufacture another [title] shot in the New Year.” added Barker.

Barker’s Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Sports, added: “It was just an incredible performance. Nobody gave Darren a shot. I would say it was at times disrespectful.”

“Darren came to win and that’s what eventually lead to the stoppage. He tried to win, not survive and we should all embrace that. Darren would have beaten any middleweight in the world tonight but Martinez.”

Martínez 36, paid tribute to his British opponent when he said. “I wasn’t frustrated at all, it was a good job by Barker, I had to neutralise his attack, I had to break him down.”

The final round of the fight


By Chris Maylett

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