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Martinez struggles, but knocks out Barker in the 11th round

(Photo © Tri Nguyen)
(Photo © Tri Nguyen)

Sergio Martinez defended his diamond belt middleweight championship with an eleventh round knockout over previously undefeated European champion Darren Barker Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Martinez (48-2, 27 KOs) struggled at times with the 15-1 underdog Barker (23-1, 14 KOs).
The first two rounds were more technical in nature as Martinez circled and Barker stalked. Martinez used his speed of foot and hand to outbox Barker. Barker, taller and with longer arms touched Martinez with counter rights. Martinez landed a right, left combination near the end of round two that seemed to stun Barker.

Martinez, fighting with his arms at his side kept shooting his jab while Barker, showing a tight defense looked to counter. Barker kept crowding the champion and in round three landed some couther rights. His busier output won him the round on two of three scorecards.
Barker continued to land lead right hands in round four. Martinez, with blood dripping from his nose, kept working the body. Barker’s defense was giving him problems. Martinez landed a nice combination at the bell.
Rounds five and six were more of the same with Martinez staying busier than Barker. Martinez opened up in round six and staggered Barker with a five punch combination.
Martinez found his rhythm in rounds seven and eight. His right jab was now finding Barker’s face as the Englishman began to tire.
At the end of round nine, the fighters exchanged with Martinez landing more effectively. Barker knew he had to throw more punches but, was unable to kick it into the next gear. His effort had been valiant, but he was running out of time.
In round ten, Martinez took over. He staggered Barker again with a sneaky right hand. Barker landed a nice combination at the one minute mark of round eleven but, Martinez countered with a combination of his own that sent Barker to his knees. Barker struggled to get up but failed.
Time was 1:29 of round eleven.
Martinez came away from the fight impressed by Barker.
“It wasn’t frustrating at all, just a good job by Barker,” he said to HBO’s Larry Merchant. “I had to neutralize his attack. It didn’t work as well as it needed to, but I had to break him down.”
They say that revenge is best served up cold. If so Andy Lee (28-1, 19 KOs) coolly picked apart tough Brian Vera (19-6, 12 KOs) to win a wide unanimous decision and avenge his shocking loss to Vera three years ago.
Scores were 99-90 twice and 98-91.
Southpaw Lee overpowered Vera with lead right hands and powerful uppercuts. He knocked Vera down near the end of round two and punctuated his dominance by staggering him on numerous occasions.
Lee is line to challenge Martinez. His impressive performance highlighted his improvement over the last three years.

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