Boxing weekend review: Martinez knocks out Barker

We look back at the best of the weekend's boxing, including Sergio Martinez's defeat of Darren Barker

By Mike Pope

Boxer of the weekend

Sergio Martinez. The Argentine star topped the bill in Atlantic City on Saturday night and produced his third successive knockout victory—against Britain’s Darren Barker—since assuming the role as the world’s No1 middleweight. Barker, a massive underdog going into the bout, proved far more capable then most pundits had predicted, but was more intent on surviving rather than trying to win the fight. The Briton spent the majority of the latter rounds immersed in his own gloves, giving Martinez a different type of challenge. The man from Buenos Aires had to break down his evasive opponent with his effective jab and powerful left hand. In the end, it was a succession of quick punches and a final right to the side of the head that finished the bout in the 11th round. Martinez had predicted a knockout and that is what he produced. He was far from his best, and at times looked beatable, which may aid him in his quest to fight the sports’ biggest stars. Without any more established names in his division, Martinez has discussed his willingness to drop down in weight to meet the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao. However, Martinez should stay at 160 pounds and cement his legacy rather than risk his health trying to make a lower weight.

Fight of the weekend

Toshiaki Nishioka v Rafael Marquez. On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Japanese junior featherweight title holder Toshiaki Nishioka made his US debut and showed what a capable boxer he is via a 12-round unamimous decision over Rafael Marquez. Nishioka initially struggled in the early rounds, looking very average as the two fighters seemed content just trading hard jabs. However, from around the third onwards, the man from Japan began to dominate, his well tuned southpaw style enabling him to land a succession of powerful left hands throughout the rest of the bout. Marquez, brave as ever, competed to the very end but was unable to match his opponent’s strength, speed and punch output. By the end of the bout it was clear who had won and the judges gave a unanimous decision in Nishioka’s favour, the score cards reading 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113. Despite the one sided nature of the bout, it was entertaining and engaging – two experienced heads trying everything to win, something the fans always appreciate.

Knockout of the weekend

Roman Gonzalez. On the undercard of the Nishioka v Marquez bout, hard hitting Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez improved his perfect record to 30 wins, 25 by the way of knockout, against durable Mexican contender Omar Soto. The fighters were standing in the centre of the ring, trading punches at the start of the second round when Gonzalez landed a quick right and powerful left upper cut which sent Soto onto his back in the corner of the ring. The referee counted all the way to ten but Soto never moved. At 5ft2½ and only 24 years of age, Gonzalez, a junior flyweight title holder, with a 83 per cent knockout ratio, is an exceptionally powerful for his weight class, and may be able to form a significant fan base if he can continue knocking everyone out. Fighters in the lower weight categories often struggle to generate the interest and thus cash that their skill deserves, Gonzalez may continue to prove the exception.

Decision of the weekend

Top Rank and Timothy Bradley. Having not fought since January of this year, talented junior welterweight Timothy Bradley announced this week that he has signed with Bob Arum’s promotional company Top Rank. The American has immediately been scheduled to fight against former multi weight champion Joel Cassamayor in November on the under card of Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Bradley needs to be fighting as often as possible because at 28, he is at the peak of his physical and thus financial powers and is too talented to stagnate through inactivity any longer. Over the last nine months Bradley has been involved in legal issues with governing bodies and promoters so hopefully this announcement will mean he can focus purely on his trade. However, talk about a fight against Pacquiao is naïve and premature. Bradley should first fight Britain’s Amir Khan to prove who is the best at 140 pounds.

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