WBC and WBO middleweight king Sergio Martinez has agreed to fight unbeaten European titleholder “Dazzling” Darren Barker October 1 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs), named The Boxing Writers Association of America’s (BWAA) 2010 “Fighter of the Year” for his dominance in the squared circle, last fought March 12 when he pulverized previously unscathed WBO super welterweight titlist Sergiy Dzindzirk en route to an eight round TKO victory to successfully defend his belts.
“Sergio is second only to Manny,” said Roger “Pit” Perron, 73, a respected boxing trainer from Brockton (Mass.) who now works with Mike and Rich Cappiello at their gym, Cappiello Brothers Boxing and Training. “Nobody else in the sport can handle him.”
Martinez promoter Lou DiBella told SI.com that Barker (23-0, 14 KOs) was not his first choice to battle the man who rightfully swiped the No. 2 spot on ESPN’s pound-for-pound list from “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather earlier this spring.
“It was a very easy deal,” said DiBella, a graduate of Tufts University and Harvard Law School.
“Barker has been calling Sergio out for weeks. He’s extremely popular in England, more popular than Carl Froch and Amir Khan, I think. He’ll bring 15,000 Brits over here and it will be a really good fight. Ultimately, we went with Barker because he wants to fight. Everyone else in the business is running away from him (Martinez).”
Martinez and DiBella both claim they initially offered the fight to Miguel Cotto, Julio Cesar Chavez, Paul Williams and Felix Sturm.
However, all four accomplished prizefighters purportedly declined to throw fists with Martinez.
On his Twitter account, Martinez, an Argentinean who also dabbled professionally as a cyclist and soccer player and only began boxing at the late age of 20, clearly expressed his desire is to punish Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs).
The Puerto Rican sensation and WBA World Light-Welterweight champion apparently chapped Martinez’s backside when he refused to shake hands at a February function in Mexico.
In response to the snub, Martinez has since routinely posted tweets that Cotto is avoiding him out of absolute fear.
Cotto is scheduled to defend his crown in a rematch against “The Tijuana Tornado” Antonio Margarito December 3 at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden
In their initial bout in July 2008, the seedy Margarito (38-7-0-1, 27 KOs) controversially beat Cotto by a bloody 11th round TKO.
Immediately following his epic battle with Cotto, Margarito had his boxing license justifiably revoked by the California State Athletic Commission in February 2009 after it was discovered that he attempted to scrap former three-division king “Sugar” Shane Mosley with a plaster-like substance inside of his hand wraps.
Fortunately, Margarito was caught and proven to be a cowardly charlatan by officials at the Staples Center in Los Angeles before the match began and he had the opportunity to seriously injure Mosley (46-7-1-1, 39 KOs) with his cement fists.
“Boxing is considered a crazy and animalistic sport,” said Mike Cappiello, a native of Brockton (Mass) who once fought for the IBO super featherweight title and retired with an impressive mark of 33-6. “Margarito’s actions further hurt the outlook of boxing.”
Cotto, who was a visibly different pugilist after Margarito hit him a few hundred times with cinder blocks, lost his second fight as a professional by a brutal 12th round TKO to the legendary Manny Pacquiao in November 2009.
Cotto has worked with renowned Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward for his past two matches and he has seemingly rediscovered, and even revitalized, his fight game.
The Puerto Rican icon impressively overwhelmed solid prizefighters Ricardo Mayorga and Yuri Foreman in his past two bouts with Steward in his corner.
Cotto is a class act and it is somewhat surprising, and even disappointing, to learn the manner he allegedly treated an honorable man like Martinez.
Primarily due to a scumbag, coupled with his fearless style in the ring, Miguel Cotto is an antiquated 30-year-old man.
Conversely, at a comparatively ancient 36, Sergio Martinez is in the prime of his career and nothing indicates that his skills will erode anytime soon.
Should the courageous Cotto again exhibit bravery and agree to clash with Martinez in the near future, he will quickly regret refusing to shake the hand of his elder this past winter.
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