Barker's Corner Man: Sergio Martinez Showed His Age

By Mitch Abramson
As a corner man for Darren Barker on Saturday night, Joey Gamache, the former lightweight champion, got a good look at Sergio Martinez. Gamache was busy in Atlantic City, helping four different boxers achieve victories in three of their fights. One of the fighters he guided to a win was Andy Lee, who won an impressive decision against Brian Vera. As a result of the win, Lee has been mentioned as a possible opponent for Martinez and his WBC Diamond middleweight title. While Gamache was admiring of Martinez’s effort- he stopped Barker in the 11th round- he also saw some flaws. The normally bubbly Martinez labored against the defensive-minded Barker, working harder than he usually does.  

“I thought [Martinez] showed his age a little bit,” Gamache said on Monday of the 36-year-old Martinez, about to head out to the Mendez Boxing Gym in Manhattan where he’s based.  “I got a real good look at him, and I felt some discomfort there with Martinez. He persevered and did well but he had a tough time with Barker. He showed his age in there. Here’s a guy [in Martinez] that’s fought a lot of fights on the road, been in some good, tough fights. He’s a good champion but he’s not God. He can beat.”  

Gamache was justifiably confident after assisting trainer Emanuel Steward in the corner of Lee for his rematch with Vera. Unlike the first fight, when Lee was lured into a brawl, Lee was patient and more measured this time around, taking his time. He sent Vera to the canvas in the second round and an argument could be made that Lee was more impressive in beating Vera than Martinez was in stopping Barker.

“It was a more mature Andy Lee this time around,” Gamache said of the unanimous decision victory for Lee, who avenged the only loss on his record. “He fought a smart fight, using his height and reach. He earned Vera’s respect early and there were times when he boxed and times when he stayed and fought without overstaying his welcome. He made a hard fight look easy.” 

Now, Gamache believes that Lee possesses the style and skills to give Martinez trouble. Watching Martinez in close quarters from the corner just outside the ring, Gamache was fortunate to be in such a position.

The week of the fight, Gamache struck up a conversation with Barker’s cut man at the Mendez Gym, where Barker entertained the media with a training session. Barker’s corner could use an extra hand, he was told, so Gamache volunteered.

He was impressed with Barker’s trainer, the affable Tony Sims, and with Barker’s effort in his first fight across the pond in the U.S. When Barker was sent to the canvas in the 11th round, Gamache noted that Sims immediately asked for a towel, and was ready to throw it in, a sign that he was trying to protect his fighter, Gamache noted. It was Sims corner but Gamache spoke up when he had to. Gamache, a good defensive fighter in his time who wasn’t afraid to mix it up, thought that Barker was being a little too economical with his punches late in the fight and should be more aggressive. After all, Gamache reasoned, title fights on HBO don't come around very often.

“I told the kid in the eighth or ninth round that the biggest risk is not taking one,” Gamache said. “You have to risk winning against losing. That was always my outlook as a fighter. Don’t make him a God. He can be hurt and if Barker had been a little more active, taking a little more risk, he might have been able to really take the fight. It’s just risk versus reward. That being said, the kid put on a real good fight and showed his class.”

Gamache was also in the corner for Boyd Melson, a fighter he’s developed from his pro debut (six round decision victory to improve to 6-0) and Isaac Chilemba (second-round knockout to up his record to 18-1-1). Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night, going 3-1 while picking up some pointers on how to possibly win a world title for Lee.

Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by LeadUppercut on 10-04-2011

[QUOTE=americanbot;11247025]martinez didn't adjust............barker simply slowed down & gave up. martinez is overrated. i could see a prime tarver ko'ng him EASY with that "hands down" style. martinez is a high risk fighter.....he could lose to a bum if the bum…

Comment by LeadUppercut on 10-04-2011

[QUOTE=ИATAS206;11246954]I remember some people saying hopkins showed his age against Keith Holmes (also at age 36), which he won rather easily but didn't look pretty doing it. Then in his next fight of course went on to put on a…

Comment by LeadUppercut on 10-04-2011

[QUOTE=ThePhantom5;11246790]Why would his corner man say this? Wouldn't he want top say "we fought the best Sergio". Way to devalue your guys effort.[/QUOTE] He was talking up Lee's chances.

Comment by mshap on 10-03-2011

agree that Martinez looked 'off' -- was not sharp on offense, waited too long to counterpunch, wasn't landing hard accurate punches until near the end -- but Barker was moving on him a lot and never made a sustained effort…

Comment by sebastianb7312 on 10-03-2011

Wtf is dis guy talkin about! Why doesn't he mention maybe if Barker actually tried letting his hands go a bit than he wld see how his ass wld get dropped to the canvas! This guys is unreal! Sergio haters…

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