New York, NY - Earlier yesterday afternoon, Lou DiBella, of DiBella Entertainment, hosted the final press conference for "Noche De ’Maravilla’" featuring WBC Diamond belt Middleweight Champion, and top three pound-for-pound fighter, Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez (47-2-2, 26KO’s), who will be taking on undefeated European Champion "Dazzling" Darren Barker (23-0, 14 KOs), this Saturday, October 1st, at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, NJ. The show will air live on HBO’s World Championship Boxing at 10:00 P.M. ET/7:00 P.M. PT, opening with the much anticipated rematch between "Irish" Andy Lee (26-1, 19KO’s) and Bryan Vera (19-5, 12KO’s).
All four of the televised fighters were in attendance and took turns speaking to the large number of media who turned out to attend the presser which was held at The Palm Restaurant, on West 50th Street, in New York City.
L TO R: ANDY LEE, SERGIO MARTINEZ, DARREN BARKER, BRYAN VERA
DiBella kicked things off, thanking everyone for coming and talking about the exciting card in store for Saturday night.
Below are quotes from DiBella, Sergio Martinez, Darren Barker, Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Sport, Andy Lee and Bryan Vera.
LOU DIBELLA - "This is going to be a great card on Saturday night," said DiBella. "Not only are the televised fights going to be great but the off-TV undercard is going to be terrific as well. In boxing we have to offer entertainment from the second people get in their seats until they leave, and that’s what we have Saturday night.
"In the main event, we have, who I believe to be the number one fighter in the world, Sergio ’Maravilla’ Martinez being challenged by a young man, who has been grossly underestimated by the press and frankly disrespected, in Darren Barker. Darren is a very good fighter. He is undefeated as a pro, he was a terrific amateur, he is the European and Commonwealth champion, and I think his credentials speak for themselves. I think Sergio realizes that he is in there with a real fighter and that this is a real challenge. Darren Barker has nothing to lose and Sergio has everything to lose and that makes for a very dangerous fight.
"In the opening fight, we have a tremendous match-up with Andy Lee, who has established himself as one of the best middleweights in the world, taking on the tough-as-nails Bryan Vera. Andy is on the verge of challenging for a championship, but he has that one notch on his record that he wants to get rid of, and that’s his loss to Bryan Vera. This is an interesting fight because both Andy and Bryan are much better fighters than they were a few years ago when they first met, and both have a lot to prove in this fight. This fight was made because Andy Lee wanted this fight, not because he needed it, and I think that says a lot about Andy and his team."
ANDY LEE - "This fight has been three-and-a-half years in the making. I have wanted it since the day after the first fight. I have been longing for this fight, and finally it’s here. I want to thank Lou and HBO for making this fight happen and giving me this opportunity. I have had a great training camp, and I am ready for this, and ready to prove myself on Saturday night. I’m not looking past Bryan Vera or anything, but after I beat him, I’m going to take my ringside seat and, with all due respect to Sergio and Darren, I am ready and want to fight the winner."
BRYAN VERA - "I am grateful for this opportunity to fight Lee again Saturday night. I have paid my dues, and worked very hard to get to this point. I have become a much better fighter since our first fight and everyone will see that come fight night. I have tremendous respect for Andy for taking this fight, because I recognize that he didn’t have to take this fight. I expect to put on an exciting performance Saturday night, and take my career to the next level."
EDDIE HEARN - "All I can tell you about Darren Barker is he is 23-0, the undefeated British Commonwealth and European Champion, top 10 in every organization and number three in the WBC, so I don’t know what more you have got to do to deserve a shot in boxing. But we are fine that we are being underestimated, we are fine that we are the underdog, because I can tell you that no one in our camp, especially Darren Barker, feels like an underdog. We feel that we are the toughest test that Sergio will have faced in his past few fights. You look at his opponents, Darren is in a different league than Dzinziruk, Williams is a blown up welterweight who beat Sergio once, and Kelly Pavlik was a washed-up fighter at the time struggling to make weight, so we feel this is the biggest test Sergio has had. We are looking forward to a good fight, we believe we have a real, real good chance here. We have massive support at home, and anyone who underestimates Darren, they are going to be in for a very big shock come Saturday night."
The statements by Hearn about Sergio’s past few opponents were not taken lightly by any means by Sergio’s longtime advisor Sampson Lewkowicz.
SAMPSON LEWKOWICZ - "I am very disappointed in those statements. You don’t give the champion credit. The first time he fought Williams, no one wanted to fight him, and we fought him and everyone knows we won that fight; then in the second, we left no questions by knocking him out. With Pavlik, he was the champion at middleweight and, to be the champion, we fought and beat the champion, so who the hell are you to sit there and make those statements? I respect your fighter, but statements like that are disrespectful to the champion. Sergio Martinez is the best fighter in the world, and on Saturday nigh,t everyone will have the opportunity to see him put on another great performance."
DARREN BARKER - "I’m in the best shape of my life and I know I have to be because I am facing a great champion on Saturday night. Everyone I have talked to says to me that I look relaxed, not nervous, and I think the reason for that is that there aren’t many things in life that I am good at, but boxing is one of them. This is what I have dedicated my life to since I was 12 years old. When I am inside those ropes, that’s when I am comfortable, that is when I am in my environment, and that is one of the reasons I am so confident in this fight. This is what I do. I am extremely confident, and I say that loudly and boldly, as much as I respect Sergio, but from the first time I have seen him, I know I have what it takes to pull off the upset. I am going to turn that question mark in back of me into an exclamation point. I am here to prove to the world that I do belong here, and do belong on this stage. Tune in, it’s going to be a great night."
When it was Martinez’ turn to speak he started off speaking in English, thanking everyone in attendance, as well as HBO, promoter Lou DiBella, and Darren Barker for accepting the challenge.
Martinez continued in Spanish, "Like always my preparation has been excellent and on Saturday night you will see a very good fight. I want to thank everyone, and look forward to seeing everyone come out on Saturday night."
"Noche de ’Maravilla’: Martinez vs. Barker" is being presented by DiBella Entertainment in association with Matchroom Sport, and Caesars Atlantic City, and is sponsored by Corona. Doors open at 6PM ET, with the first bout scheduled for 6:30PM ET. HBO will begin live coverage at 10:00PM ET.
Tickets for "Noche de ’Maravilla’" are priced at $300, $200, $100, and $50, and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, at any Ticketmaster retail outlet, or in person at the Boardwalk Hall box office.
Below are additional photos taken from the presser including one of Lou DiBella and Sergio Martinez with a special cake made for Sergio by Palermo Bakery in Ridgefield Park, NJ.
Photo credit: Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment
DiBella Entertainment builds upon the unique insights Lou DiBella developed as a television executive and matchmaker to combat the contractual exploitation of professional boxers. DiBella Entertainment creates a business model that shifts the balance of power from promoters to boxers; and establishes a legacy of matchmaking excellence, both in an effort to improve the health of the boxing industry. DiBella Entertainment represent its athletes with honesty and integrity all while making the best and fairest financial deals for its clients.