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  Sergio Martinezís Marvelous
11th Round KO Of Darren Barker;
Lee Beats Vera in Rematch & Undercard From Atlantic City

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey


Whatís Sergio doing? Get your hands up Sergio! Someone find out how Harold Lederman is scoring this fight. These were just some of the comments I was hearing while sitting on press row. Sitting there watching the fight I was beginning to question myself. Maybe Sergio was losing. Maybe he should be fighting with his hands up. Fight with his hands up? But then Sergio Martinez would not be Sergio Martinez.

What makes Sergio Martinez the successful fighter that he is? It is not the knockouts as so many seem to believe. Have we already forgotten the tough fight against Kelly Pavlik? Martinezís success rests on the fact that he is willing to take chances. The opposite can be said about Darren Barker, at least in relation to this fight. Barker covered up from the beginning. Sure it kept Martinez from landing clean, effective shots against him for the majority of the fight. It also kept Barker from landing enough shots to either break Martinez down and eventually knock him out or win on the judgesí scorecards.

The first few rounds of the fight actually looked as though Barker had a strategy that could beat Sergio Martinez. Barker was staying closed up, avoiding the traps that Martinez was setting for him. The third round really seemed to be going Barkerís way. Martinez was trying to bait Barker into an exchange, holding his chin out there for Barker and waiting for his opportunity to throw a punch. Barker took advantage and landed a hard shot to chin near the end of the round. Then in the fourth round, Barker was pressing Martinez to the ropes. Uncharacteristically, Martinez started to fight with his hands up. Barker landed another hard shot to the head of Martinez. Martinez responded with a flurry of shots. It was apparent that by the end of the round that Barker had bloodied the nose of Martinez. Barker looked to be trouble for Martinez.

Martinez came out in the fifth round much more aggressive than the earlier rounds. After Barker landed a hard right to the head of Martinez, Martinez started aiming for the body. If he could not slip his punches effectively through the gloves of Barker, he could start going to the sides of his body and head. It was just a matter of breaking him down. In the sixth round Martinez once again went to the body. Barker came right back and landed, only to be hit again by Martinez. Barker landed a hard shot to the head, snapping it back. Martinez, who was still fighting with his arms down, threw a flurry of shots.

Barker managed to cut Martinez under the right eye early in the seventh round. Martinez was keeping his distance, but he was landing his shots. He started to throw his jab high and then followed it with a power punch to the body. Although Barker seemed to be blocking much of what Martinez was throwing, he himself was not throwing enough. Martinez even managed to land a combination to the body and finish it with a shot to the head. Barker tried to adjust in the eighth round, moving in and out more, but it was Martinez who finished the round strong.

After what appeared to be a head butt in round nine, Barker landed another hard shot to the head. He was still trying to move back and forth, in and out. However, it was Martinez who was doing most of the work in this round. Martinez came out in round ten using more lateral movement. He was able to catch Barker several times with hard shots. After staggering Barker, Martinez tried to finish him off. He threw combination after combination. It looked as though he might punch himself out in this round, leaving no energy for the rest of the fight. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the tenth round Martinez continued to bait Barker, holding his chin out there for the taking. With a punch to the side of the head, Martinez was able to put Barker down on the canvas. Barker would not survive the count. Sergio had successfully defended his Middleweight title once again.

Sure Martinez could have played it safe. He probably still would have won the fight. But that is not who Sergio Martinez is. We come to watch Martinez fight because he gives us the fight we want to see. Sergio, if you are reading this, donít change!

The difference of the crowd from Martinezís fight and Andy Leeís fight could not have been more drastic. From round one of the Martinez fight the crowd was electrified. That could not be said of the crowd during the Lee fight. Although Lee is a technically gifted fighter, he failed to electrify the crowd.

Andy Lee came to avenge his one loss. To do that, he had to beat Brian Vera. What resulted was a fight that seemed to be the equivalent of the shutout in baseball. What does that mean? Vera was desperately trying to knockout Lee, but he was having trouble simply landing his punches. The first round saw few meaningful exchanges. Vera came out in the second round as the aggressor, chasing Lee around the ring. Although Lee seemed to be spending a lot of the round backing up, it wasnít because Vera was landing anything meaningful. Then at the end of the round, Lee landed a shot to the head, which put Vera down on the canvas.

Vera tried to get in under Leeís reach in the third round, but Lee was able to keep his distance and keep landing his shots. Vera continued to chase Lee in the fourth round. Lee simply kept turning, using angles to keep Vera from landing. Lee, however, could land while turning. Lee picked up his attack in the fifth round, managing to cut Veraís left eye. Lee staggered Vera in the sixth, knocking him back into the ropes. Veraís only hope seemed to be to get in close to Lee. He did this in the seventh round, landing a flurry of shots with Lee trapped against the ropes. Vera was able to do this a few more times in the eighth round

Lee was clearly in control again in the last two rounds. Vera just seemed to be chasing Lee in circles, but he was unable to catch him. Lee landed a hard shot to the head of Vera at the end of the ninth round. It seemed that all Lee had to do was to keep his distance in the tenth round. Lee, however, chose to exchange with Vera. After the bell, Lee fell to his knees. Two judges scored the fight 99-90, while the third scored it 98-91.

The undercard was full of quick knockouts. The two most notable were Isaac Chilembaís knockout of Jameson Bostic and Magomed Abdusalamovís of Kevin Burnett. Light Heavyweight Isaac Chilemba dominated the two rounds that he fought against Bostic. Bostic could hardly get off the ropes in the first round. In the second, he seemed to be fighting scared, throwing only when cornered. Chilemba landed combination after combination with Bostic in the corner. Bostic went down on his knees and did not get up in time for the count. Heavyweight Abdusalamov knocked Burnett down twice in the first round before referee Steve Smoger stopped the fight at 1:19. Abdusalamov was hit with combination after combination during that one minute. Light Heavyweight Seanie Monaghan controlled the four rounds his fight lasted before Kentrell Claiborneís corner threw in the towel. Middleweight Troy Artis got the TKO victory against Israel Duffus in the third round in what was probably the one upset of the evening. Junior Middleweight Steven Martinez also got the TKO victory over Jay Krupp, their fight lasting into the fifth.

Middleweight JíLeon Love defeated Eddie Hunter. Two of the judges scored the fight 60-54, while one scored it 60-53. Junior Middleweight Daniel Lugo got his first win by unanimous decision over Kevin Rooney. All three judges scored it 39-37. Junior Middleweight Boyd Melson won by unanimous decision over Russ Niggemyer. The judges scored the fight 59-55, 60-54, and 60-53.


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