First off, this is my first time writing, I’ve always had plenty of opinions (who doesn’t in this sport?), but now I felt like finally sharing them!
Damn man, I didn’t think Darren Barker had it in him. Maybe Sergio Martinez was having a rough start, but Barker sure as hell popped the champ with some clean shots in those early rounds. That bloody nose added a lot of spice to the mix! I like to think Barker went down fighting hard, ultimately grinded into the canvas by a superior fighter. Do you think Barker had the stones to finish a fight like that with a win?
Oh and while I love the man, I doubt Michael Buffer got much appreciation from us Brits for calling our lad “Darren Baker”. I hope you guys across the pond remember him for his grit rather than this mess up! Cheers and peace. — Al, England
American fans will give Barker his due from now on. Give Buffer a break, even the best have bad nights. And no, I don’t think Martinez had a bad night. I think he defended his title against a solid middleweight contender. I think Barker had “the stones” to finish the fight, but I don’t think he had the talent to outpoint Martinez in a distance fight. The champ’s speed and activity were just too much to overcome, but I definitely thought the fight was competitive, which wasn’t a shock.
Barker wasn’t ranked by THE RING prior to fighting Martinez, but I believed (and stated on record) that he was as good as many of the middleweights in the mag’s top 10 and I thought he could beat the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sebastian Zbik. Now I know so!
I’d never seen Barker fight live before Saturday, but just looking at his recent bouts and interviews on Youtube, I could tell that he was a good, smart boxer with the right attitude. I think odds makers and much of the U.S. media were overly dismissive of him because he hadn’t fought outside of the UK and he didn’t have any big names on his ledger. Obviously, we had to favor Martinez, the proven veteran, but if you studied Barker closely you could see that he brought certain attributes to the table that could cause Martinez trouble. At the very least he shouldn’t have been completely counted out.
Nobody will count him out of his next big fight.
Good morning Mr. Fischer,
1. B-Hop calling out Martinez to a 170 lb catch-weight fight 2 weeks prior to facing off with Dawson.
2. Would Bob Arum and Freddy Roach allow their cash-cow to fight the Argentine at 150 lb?
3. Would Mayweather have the balls to take a fight that most think he will avoid in favour of another fight with a blown-up junior welter?
4. Andy Lee vs Martinez isn’t a blockbuster, so which other fight involving Sergio Martinez would sell big PPV numbers in the US?
Thanks for the platform once again. Themba, Johannesburg
Thanks Themba, I’ll always give a platform to a fight fan from J-burg. I’ll answer your questions in order:
1. Hopkins needs to concentrate on Chad Dawson. I don’t care what kind of nonsense my boxing writer peers and hardcore fans are “tweeting” bout this matchup, it’s not a “gimme” for the future hall of famer. Nard can lose that fight.
3. I seriously doubt it but I’d love for Floyd to prove me wrong.
4. Martinez-Margarito II would sell tickets and PPV buys in the U.S. if marketed and promoted right, which it would because Bob Arum would be involved. That fight does 15,000-20,000 at Staples Center in L.A. and it lends itself to numerous 24/7 story lines. Of course, for this bout to happen, Marggy Margz has got to beat Miguel Cotto again and that won’t be an easy task for the Mexican veteran.
IMPRESSED WITH BARKER
Hope everything’s good with you. Just though I’d start by saying I really enjoyed the top 10 middleweights of all time article published earlier this week. Being a relatively young boxing fan it’s always good to read articles comparing the fighters I’ve grown up with to those of the past. Hope to see more similar articles soon!
I was really impressed with Darren Barker’s effort on Saturday night. Being a Brit I’ve watched several of his fights and although he’s a top guy and I was rooting for him, I couldn’t see how he’d fair any better than Dzinziruk. How wrong I was! I gave him 4 rounds, which according to the HBO broadcast team makes me absolutely insane! (Am I?!)
I also think the reason he started taking more shots at the end was because he realised the fight was slipping away and he tried to do something about it, hence leaving himself more open; it’s nice to see a guy laying it all on the line for a change. Whilst Martinez was just a bit too good, I’d say that Barker has earned his status in the group below along with Sturm, Geale and Macklin.
Where do you see both guys going from here? I think Martinez should keep busy unifying the titles and see if any big fight opportunities arise, then if not move up to super-middleweight where there’ll be big fights for sure. I’d love to see a huge domestic clash between Barker and Macklin, lets hope that fight can finally happen.
I’ve already started to get caught up in the Pacquiao-Marquez hype, seeing those clips from their previous fights on HBOs face-off has already got me thinking this is gonna be another epic, God knows what I’ll be like after 24/7! I think I’m gonna need constant reminders that he’s too small and will get destroyed come fight time! Keep up the good work! — Callum, Sheffield, UK
Hey, what’s the point of being a hardcore fight fan if you can’t fool yourself into thinking an 8-to-1 underdog has a shot? I do it all the time. Yeah, it’s a downer when they get chewed up and spat out, but when they win — and at least one has every year that I’ve covered the sport — it’s such a joy (even you’re a big fan of the overwhelming favorite).
Speaking of underdogs, your boy Barker proved a lot of odds makers wrong even though he lost to the middleweight champ. I don’t think a 96-94 scorecard (or four rounds for Barker) after 10 rounds was out of line. I scored three rounds for Barker, the third, fourth and eighth, and thought there were a couple close rounds that arguably could have gone his way. Don’t let HBO’s commentators make you feel bad. They tend to fall in love with certain fighters. It’s kind of a tradition with the network. (And, hey, if commentators are going to develop a man crush on a fighter it might as well be a swell guy like Maravilla, right?)
I think Barker belongs right under THE RING’s top three or four contenders (Sturm, Geale, Macklin and the guy who just KO’d the old No. 4, Grzegorz Proksa). We’ll find out where he lands later today. Check out the Ring Ratings Update when it is posted.
Where do both guys go from here? I think Martinez will continue to fight solid middleweight contenders next year, Andy Lee or Matthew Macklin (or the winner of a Macklin-Lee fight) and Felix Sturm. I’d love to see Macklin-Barker, but Macklin just signed with Lou DiBella with the hopes of fighting the champ, so he’s going to keep his 2012 calendar clear for that showdown. I’d love to see Barker get a shot at Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., but we both know that won’t happen, so I’m thinking a showdown with Proksa for his old European title might be a decent event in your area. If Barker can beat Proksa, who looks like a real badass, I think he’d deserve a shot at IBF titleholder Daniel Geale, which would be a top-quality 160-pound matchup.
Thanks for the kind words on the middleweight 10 List (which was the best titleholders of the last 50 years, not of all time). I’m glad you appreciated it. If you ever have any ideas for future lists let me know.
GOOD BOXING WEEKEND
What a good boxing weekend this was. A few observations:
1) Cheba-Olusegun was a pretty fun scrap to watch. How the winner of that fight is the challenger for El Terrible’s trinket is beyond me but then again, Terrible beat a guy that wasn’t even ranked for the freaking thing!
2) Martinez-Barker: Martinez probably didn’t make any new fans on Saturday. I could not disagree with Lederman’s scorecard more! I don’t think Barker was winning the fight but I don’t know about Maravilla having 9 of 10 rounds in the bag going into the 11th. It almost seemed like the showboating (which is more of his style than actual showboating) was a little excessive. I like Maravilla better when he is letting his hands go instead of doing his Roy Jones impression while throwing onesy twosies at a time. Do you think that Barker was just that good or did Martinez not take him seriously? Seeing Maravilla on Saturday makes me think that a fight with Miguel Cotto might not be as easy as Maravilla is making it sound when he talks to anybody willing to listen. It would be a fun scrap and I think Cotto could actually beat Maravilla if they fought at a catchweight. Am I off my rocker here? (While you answer my question I will continue to pray that Maravilla-Hopkins does not even get into negotiations!)
3) Juanma-Oliver: So Juanma did what he was expected to do but it seems like he was the same’ol Juanma, all offense and sloppy defense. If he fights Salido again (when he fights Salido again) he will lose in the same exact way because they have changed ZERO in his gameplan. What makes Margarito-Cotto 2 somewhat intriguing is that Cotto is a different fighter than he was a few years ago. Juanma, not so much. You know, Juanma worships Tito and just like Tito he has one gameplan and one gameplan only. He needs a new corner. Where do you see Juanma going from here?
PS: That Pacquiao-Marquez face off was lame. — Hector
Thanks for the email, Hector. I haven’t watched the Pacquiao-Marquez III Face Off yet. I haven’t really enjoyed any of them, save the one for the Hopkins-Pascal rematch. I’ll respond to your comments in order:
1) I thought styles of Olusegun and Cheba meshed well. Olusegun had the edge in speed and athleticism, Cheba had the edge in technique and consistent offense. Both showed they had heart, good conditioning and pretty solid chins. There’s no way the WBC will force Morales to fight Olusegun, but I wouldn’t mind watching the Nigerian southpaw take on another 140-pound contender, such as Lucas Matthysse or Mike Alvarado. I’d love to see Cheba fight the kid Morales just beat, Pablo Cano. That would be a good fight.
2) Martinez may not have made any new fans, but I don’t think he lost any with his effort on Saturday. He struggled a bit but he closed the show, which is what most casual fans remember. And now that he looks beatable, there might be more interest in his next fight or two. I think Martinez took Barker seriously. The Brit is very good. He should be considered a top-10 contender now. But make no mistake, Martinez is the man at both 160 and 154 pounds. I don’t see Cotto doing what Barker did. Barker’s height (a little over 6-feet) and reach had a part in troubling Martinez. Cotto doesn’t have those physical advantages. I’m not saying the Puerto Rican star wouldn’t be competitive at all with the middleweight champ, I just don’t see how Barker exposed Martinez in a way that would make someone think Cotto can beat him.
3) I’m not going to count Lopez out. I think he’s got more dimensions than he’s shown in recent fights, such as lateral movement and counter-punching ability, and he’ll bring those tools out in the rematch with Salido. If Lopez is truly motivated to win his title back and I think he’ll do it. I don’t think it will be easy with Salido, who has a difficult style for the southpaw, but he can do it, even if he has to settle for a close decision victory.
MARTINEZ AND MYTHICAL MATCHUPS
It’s been quite a while since I made it to your mailbox. Just want to get your thoughts on this stuff:
1. On the strength of his victories over Williams and Pavlik, can Martinez make it to the hall of fame if he decides to call it a career?
2. If ever Donaire eventually secures a showdown with JuanMa Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa, how do you see these matchups unfold?
3. Speaking of JuanMa, it appears to me people have written him off after the Salido loss and say Gamboa will beat the living hell outta him. Then they say Gamboa looked average against Ponce DeLeon, completely forgetting JuanMa once blitzed DeLeon in one round.
4. Going back to Martinez, is he in a Klitshcko type of situation, a talented fighter in a weak division?
5. I may be nuts, but I thought Valero could have given Mayweather a scare if not a Buster Douglas type of upset if your son went to welter division.
6. How about a Morales v. Marquez fight? if im not mistaken that’s the only pair missing from the round robin of Pac and the mexican triumvirate
Mythical matchups, who’ll win and how:
Pacquiao vs. Trinidad at Welterweight
Cotto vs, Trinidad at welter/jr.middle
Cotto vs. Delahoya at welter
Pacquiao vs. Chavez at lightweight/jr.welter
Martinez vs. Thomas Hearns at middle
Thank you Dougie. God bless. — Adrian, Philippines
Thanks for writing, Adrian. I’ll answer your questions and mythical matchups in order:
1. I don’t think so. Unless Martinez’s middleweight championship reign lasts for the next five or six years, including 10-15 title defenses, he’s going to need at least one first-ballot hall of famer on his resume to earn HOF consideration, which is why he wants to fight Pacquiao or Mayweather so bad.
2. At featherweight, I favor Donaire over Lopez. I think Gamboa-Donaire is an even 126-pound matchup. I give the Cuban the edge above 126 pounds.
3. Ah, you’ve noticed that loudmouth fans tend to contradict themselves, have you? Welcome to my world my friend.
4. No, Martinez hasn’t proven to be as dominant as the K-brothers and the middleweight division isn’t as weak as people say it is. There are many good contenders and beltholders fighting at 160 pounds that the champ hasn‘t faced yet, including Felix Sturm, Daniel Geale, Matthew Macklin, Dmitry Priog, and two of my favorites Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin. They just haven’t made their names yet to the general U.S. boxing audience.
5. Valero would have been frightful handful for any world-class fighter between 130-140 pounds, including Floyd. However, he wasn’t a welterweight. If he had lived to fight the current version of Mayweather (at 147 pounds) he would have been outclassed (though not embarrassed, he was a much better boxer than people realized).
6. I would buy tickets to see Morales-Marquez.
Pacquiao vs. Trinidad at Welterweight — Trinidad by mid-to-late rounds TKO (Pacquiao’s speed and lateral movement would trouble Tito early, but the Puerto Rican’s height and tight technique would cause the Filipino hero to over-extend himself. Tito would time the Pac-monster with a beautiful right and finishes him with a series of evil left hooks.)
Cotto vs. Trinidad at welter/jr. middle — Trinidad by late-rounds TKO (Tito methodically walks his fellow Puerto Rican down as Margarito did in 2008, but with better technique and a colder stoppage.)
Cotto vs. De La Hoya at welter — De La Hoya by decision (Both do damage with their left hooks, but Oscar edges Cotto with a better jab and footwork.)
Pacquiao vs. Chavez at lightweight/jr. welter — Chavez by close decision at lightweight; Pacquiao by close decision at 140 (the Mexican idol cuts the ring off on Pacquiao and wears him down with his body attack at 135 pounds, but the PacMan takes advantage of slightly slower reflexes and diminished power at 140 and wins hard-fought decision akin to Chavez’s first fight – and first official loss – to Frankie Randal.)
Martinez vs. Thomas Hearns at middle — Interesting matchup. I think Martinez’s style give Hearns trouble, but the Hitman would eventually take advantage of the Argentine’s low guard and zero in with that laser-beam right to win a middle-rounds KO.
Hi Doug. It was good article about 10 best Middle weight and I really liked that you put up Bernard-Tito video. To me, that was the perfect text book fight for any fighters and I have watched that fight more than two dozen times. It was such an educational fight when it comes to skills and ring generalship. After all those years, I still love that fight and I never get bored watching it.
I’m happy that boxing was back this weekend and all fights were good TV friendly action fights. (Although I missed Nishioka-Marqueez fight) Here are my thoughts:
1) Darley Perez: He is a good prospect. I wanna see him fight a guy like Ray Beltran.
2) Olusegun vs Chebah: Good action fight. Olusegun’s stamina/endurance is unreal. He’s too wild but his activity and stamina might be good enough to beat many guys at 140. I was also impressed by Chebah’s toughness. He seemed to be fighting with hand problem but he showed heart. He can also take punches. I wanna see them fighting guys like Josesito Lopez, Hank Lundy, Jesse Vargas and Mike Alvarado.
3) Lee vs Vera: No disrespect to Andy Lee but he doesn’t impress me. Lee ate too many right hands from Vera who throws real wide shots. I was actually more impressed by the way Vera was taking his shots. Which one takes better punches, Vera or Librado?
4) Martinez vs Barker: while Floyd parks his Mercedes at an angle in two handicapped parking spots, Sergio Martinez helps a school bully victim. I was happy for the girl Martinez is mentoring. I think his performance and victory will be a great motivation for her.
Anyway, I was impressed by Martinez. He didn’t impress me before (even one punch KO of P-Will fight) but he does now. Barker was actually much better fighter than I expected and he seemed to give Martinez some tough time getting into his usual rhythm. Barker was big, tall and had decent skills but those were just not enough to beat the middleweight champ. I think he hurt Barker in 10th real bad and Barker was not able to recover well and that lead to 11th round KO. Accumulation of punches on his left side head obviously did great damage. I know he’s more of a great athlete than a great fighter (to me) but I think it’ll take someone special to beat him and that’s not Andy Lee.
Keep up the good work! — Naoki, Reno, NV
It made sense to put the video of Hopkins-Trinidad on top of the 10 List article because last week was the 10th anniversary of that classic bout and Nard was in the top five (No. 3 behind Monzon and Hagler for those of you who didn’t read it).
I was ringside in Madison Square Garden for Hopkins-Trinidad. It was truly an unforgettable night (particularly after spending so much time in Nard’s training camps — thanks to then-Hopkins advocate Steve Kim — leading up to that showdown for all the middleweight marbles).
I agree with your thoughts on Martinez. It was an impressive win on Saturday if one really understands Barker’s skill and style. He wasn’t just a tall middleweight like Williams or Pavlik. He had footwork and timing those two better-respected American middleweights lacked. Williams’ smothering offense is his defense. He’s always going to be there to be tagged by a sharp shooter like Martinez. And Pavlik has no reverse gear, like Barker. The former champ is a much-harder puncher than Barker, but he’s also a flat-footed stalker who just plods forward all night, which stick-and-move stylist like Martinez can easily outmaneuver.
Anyway, I’ll respond to your comments in order:
1) Perez-Beltran. Good fight. It’s got “ShoBox main event” written all over it.
2) Your thoughts on this matchup and future matchups for them echo mine.
3) I thought Lee looked pretty good for seven or eight rounds. Vera’s a beast. However, Andrade has the better chin. Librado’s only been stopped with a body shot from an elite super middleweight.
4) Sergio is a good man. That’s no HBO 24/7-style bulls__t. That’s real.