Martinez vs. Barker: Rising Star Shines Bright

Almost unknown Darren Barker gives it a go, but the lightening quick Martinez still lit up the ring.

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

Argentina's Sergio Martinez(47-2-2, 26KOs) is boxing's fasting rising star. The reigning middleweight champion of the world has dazzled boxing enthusiasts with his incredible hand speed, endless cardio topped with his jaw-dropping(and shattering)knock-outs. All things aside the man is a full fledged warrior. On Saturday night on HBO's BAD, Martinez took on a virtually unknown contender in the form of Englishman Darren Barker(23-0 14KOs).

Both men took the center of the ring which saw Barker looking for his rhythm while eating a stiff Martinez jab. Martinez landed a good left straight while Barker looked for and landed small counter shots. Martinez shot another left straight that snapped Barker's head back. In the second Martinez went for a quick combo that was blocked until he landed a quick jab/straight combo that pushed Barker back. Barker stalked Martinez with a tight defense and opened up with a short quick right hand.
Barker then landed two more right hand shots with good precision. Martinez followed with another hard straight left that buckled Barker.

In the third Martinez approached Barker with his hands down and chin low, looking to shoot another quick straight. Barker landed two good straight rights while Martinez was against the ropes. Barker ate a good body shot and responded with another straight right. Barker then landed a right and quickly clinched nullifying Martinez's impending attack. During the fourth Barker landed another straight right that had Martinez bleeding from the nose against the ropes followed by a left hook. Martinez began to look a bit uncomfortable with his timing. Barker continued to land straight rights as Martinez kept his hands down looking for a big counter. Barker landed a nice jab/straight combo while Martinez started firing body shots. At the end of the round Martinez landed a flashy 3 punch combination that very well may have stole him the round.

During the fifth Barker continued to land short right hand shots on Martinez's blood flowing nose. Martinez moved forward behind his jab. Barker ate two quick straight lefts shot in by the champion. At the end of the round Martinez threw a quick 2 punch combo that ended with a hard right hook to Barker's guard.At this point in the contest Martinez seemed to be more active while his opponent landed the cleaner shots.

Martinez began going to the body during the sixth. Barker answered with a good left hook. Martinez slowed the body attack and choose to head hunt with great volume but no real clean shot. Barker seems to tire towards the end of the round as Martinez decides to go back to the body. With five seconds left in the round Martinez rips Barker with a six punch combo to the body and head that staggers the Englishman.

By the ninth round Barker's jab proved to be effective but Martinez landed the better shots.  Barker has a great strategy but no will to fully engage it seems. Lackluster yet effective. Barker landed a nice one-two to Martinez's head that was followed by a right hand that stunned the champ. Martinez kept waiting for a shot to land a perfect counter as both men began to trade towards the end of the round. Barker tasted a left cross from Martinez that landed beautifully. In the 10th round Barker was rocked by an air-born-dart jab thrown by Martinez. Truly one of the strangest punches I've ever seen.

During what would prove to be the final round of the fight, Barker landed a hard three punch combination. It was the first real sign of a war coming out of Barker's fists but it proved to be his last. The champion immediately retaliated with a furious combo consisting of a hard left straight and a right hook. Barker took a step back as Martinez went in for the kill with a hard right hook that was partially blocked but felt immensely in the challenger's body.

When it comes to Sergio Martinez , Larry Merchant said it best –  "He knows how to close a show."