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Recap, Analysis: Sergio Martinez Beats Darren Barker in Tough Fight

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By Nick Tylwalk

We're closing in on the main event from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as Sergio Martinez gets set to take on undefeated Darren Barker. Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant are joined in the booth by Emanuel Steward, who just guided Andy Lee to victory over Brian Vera in the co-feature.

Lampley narrates a video package that delves into some of the good that Martinez has been doing in the U.S. to aid kids who have been the victims of bullying. Martinez had some bad experiences if a similar nature growing up in Argentina, making him the perfect person to talk about the benefits of self-esteem.

Steward discusses Martinez's lack of a traditional boxing background and his ability to create his own style that works for him. It helps that he is a ridiculous natural athlete, so his techniques wouldn't work for most fighters. Merchant calls Barker the longest shot in a title fight since Buster Douglas but notes that he has some boxing skills.

The tale of the tape shows that the two fighters are roughly even in height, weight and reach. Barker is seven years younger, but Martinez is always in phenomenal shape.

Barker comes to the ring first as the prohibitive underdog. He is 23-0 with 14 KOs and is making his first appearance in the U.S.

Martinez makes his ring walk to "Smooth" by Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana, which seems fitting. Maravilla is 47-2-2 and is on a three-match winning streak against very tough competition.

Michael Buffer calls for a memorial ten-count for George Benton, then turns his attention to the formal fighter introductions. And we're ready to go for a scheduled 12 rounds of boxing.

Round 1

Barker tries to establish the jab. Martinez attempts a right hook upstairs. Sergio tries a flurry that forces Barker back. Barker tries a hard right hook that gets blocked. Barker has to cover up as left hands are coming in. Martinez keeps his hands low as Barker stalks with a left hook. Solid left by Martinez get Barker's attention. Mostly feints down the stretch.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Martinez

Round 2

Martinez didn't throw tons of punches in that first frame as he felt his way out. Barker covers up to block shots upstairs. Martinez looks to counter but Barker isn't throwing much. Barker tries to reach around with some left hooks. Martinez ducks very low as he tries to figure a way past the guard. Barker lands some short punches but stays very cautious. There's a straight right by Barker. He tries the body and head. Good left by Martinez knocks Barker just a bit off balance.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Martinez

Round 3

Martinez tries to get the left hand untracked. Both men jab as they move toward the corner. Barker gets in a straight right. He's just a hair off as Martinez is too quick. Barker gets the best of a quick short-range exchange. Barker lands a solid right as they fall into a clinch. Martinez tries to flurry with his quicker hands. Martinez sticks jabs in Barker's face again. Barker fires off more rights, and I liked him by just a hair there.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Barker

Round 4

Harold Lederman has it 3-0 for Martinez right now because Barker isn't busy enough. Barker lands a left hook and Martinez is bleeding just a bit. Right by Barker as Martinez looks to counter. Larry Merchant thinks Sergio is bleeding from the nose. Martinez lands good shots to the head and body, but Barker responds with a right hand. Left hand just misses for Martinez. He tries some more body work too. Several left hands crash home as Barker is forced to cover up. Barker backs up and tries some jabs. Martinez goes to the body again. Both men let their hands go before the bell.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Martinez

Round 5

Marvailla scrambles and that works to his favor. Barker is able to respond with a right hand. They pick and pop in the center of the ring. Barker keeps his jab pumping and his gloves high. Both men feint and look for openings. Martinez punches while moving and stays busy. His hand speed and activity take over during an otherwise uneventful final minute.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Martinez

Round 6

Martinez tries to unleash a combo that ends to the body. Barker goes back to the jab. Emanuel Steward laughs as he wonders how Andy Lee could fight Martinez. Both fighters land quick shots in the center of the ring. Martinez is still throwing a lot more punches, which should serve him well in these rounds when neither man is landing huge flush shots. Martinez lands two to the body and punches his way out of a jam in the corner. Nice exchange with a solid left for Sergio right at the bell.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Martinez

Round 7

Jabs both ways to open things up. Lederman questions whether Martinez trained his hardest for this fight, but Merchant thinks Barker deserves credit. Barker keeps his guard tight as he stalks. He tries a counter right that just misses. Maravilla keeps touching him with quick shots to the body and occasionally to the head. Barker has the jab but not much else to go with it right now. Both men land to the head though Martinez flurries to the body too. He lets combinations go that look flashy but are mostly blocked.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Martinez

Round 8

Barker opens with some hooks and lunges for a right hand. Martinez goes down, but it's correctly ruled a slip. He returns to body shots because that's what is available. Barker tries two punches to the head. Both men reach with jabs. Barker bears down with several right hands. Martinez goes back to trying quick shots from the outside. Barker counters but Martinez responds quickly with two of his own.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Barker

Round 9

The ref stops things early on for a head butt. Martinez tries an uppercut but just misses. Barker lands a right and a left. He blocks four straight Martinez punches upstairs. Sergio keeps trying to get through the guard. Barker tries to measure some shots along the ropes. Left by Martinez but a right hand back from Barker. Another left gets the crowd vocal for Sergio. Barker tries to jump on him but the ref breaks it up. Close round.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Martinez

Round 10

Lederman has it 8-1 in rounds for Martinez, mostly because he hasn't been busy enough. Martinez keeps his jab flowing. Nice right hook by Sergio gets both men off balance. Martinez dazes Barker with a left hand that forces a clinch. Barker has some swelling by both eyes. A right hook stuns Barker, and Martinez tries to pour it on. Barker covers up for dear life before trying two right hands. Big round for Martinez.

Tylwalk: 10-9 Martinez

Round 11

Martinez's speed and timing are carrying the day right now. He goes to the body and head with nothing coming back. Barker misses a few hooks as Martinez slides away. Barker holds and pushes Martinez's head down. Right hand by Barker but Martinez scores right back with a right hook that sends Barker down. He can't beat the count, and it's a KO victory for Maravilla!

Replay showed that a right hook got Barker to open up just a tad, then a second hook put Barker down even though it was partially blocked. Hard work but a stellar finish for Martinez.

The winner by KO at 1:29 of Round 11, Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez.

Merchant congratulates Martinez and asks if the fight was frustrating at any time. Sergio says no but also admits it was a good job by Barker. Martinez thinks he had to work to break Barker down more than most opponents.

Mentioning that Bernard Hopkins would fight Martinez at 170 if he beats Chad Dawson, Maravilla suggests he was only 165 before the fight, so that would be a lot of weight. He says he'll fight anyone as long as there is an agreement that is fair for both fighters. He's not opposed to fighting Andy Lee because of the difficulty in finding a rival.

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