By Terence Dooley
Barnet stylist Darren Barker faces the stiffest test of his professional career when travelling to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall venue on October 1st to challenge 160lb WBC ‘diamond’ titlist Sergio Gabriel Martinez. ‘Dazzling’ holds a perfect record, 23-0 (14), and has held the British, Commonwealth and EBU middleweight straps, however he has a hard assignment on his plate given Martinez’s recent form.
Barker’s preparations have been boosted by a message from Richard ‘The Secret’ Williams. Williams has sparred Barker and twice fought Martinez, losing by decision and via ninth-round TKO in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Williams held the Commonwealth and IBO light-middleweight belts during his nine-year career; he feels that the 29-year-old will be able to match Martinez in key departments.
“I think he’s got a very good chance. I sparred Darren years ago when he was just starting out as a professional and certainly I could tell then that he was definitely going to be a champion,” revealed ‘The Secret’ when speaking to Sky Sports.
“Martinez is 36, he’s on a high, he had a fantastic year last year and is a quick fighter himself. When I fought Sergio I didn’t find his strength or size a real presence to push you around of anything like that. I think that is where Darren will be able to capitalise.”
“Sergio is a sharp puncher but not a heavy, concussive hitter, it was just that I couldn’t get out of the way. This chance is why most fighters fight. They want that defining fight, the one that helps them say, ‘Yeah, I’m one of the best in the world’, and I’ll be cheering Darren on,” declared Williams.
Martinez, 47-2-2 (26), has moved from strength-to-strength since his battles with the Stockwell sharpshooter, his recent run climaxing with middleweight wins over Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, after a drawn first fight, and Serhiy Dzinziruk. ‘Maravilla’ is the favourite going into his latest defence but the Argentine will have to ward off a spirited effort from Barker come the night.
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