Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez, 2010's Fighter of the Year, will return to the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, which was incidentally the site of two of the biggest wins of his career where he scored a spectacular one-punch knockout over Paul Williams and was preceded by his unified title win over then champion Kelly Pavlik.
He is set to return to the ring on October 1 against European champ and British superstar Darren Barker in a 12-round bout for Martinez's WBC Diamond Championship, which will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing and will be promoted by DiBella Entertainment.
“Sergio Martinez has never backed down from a challenge, challenges only back down from him,” said Lou DiBella, president of DiBella Entertainment. “This show is about fighters proving themselves when it matters the most. Sergio Martinez is a superstar with more momentum than anyone in boxing, but he must knock off the European champion, Barker, to keep it going. Barker isn’t scared of a challenge; in fact, he begged for one. So, now he gets to prove himself against the best of the best in his division. Andy Lee and Brian Vera are both on the cusp of a fight against the winner of the main event, so Lee must prove that his first fight with Vera was a fluke and Vera must prove that he can do it again. All these storylines will lead to high drama and excitement on October 1."
“Sergio Martinez is one of boxing’s brightest stars, and it is great to have him back live on the network,” said Kery Davis, senior vice president of programming for HBO Sports. “Darren Barker is another UK fighter looking to make an imprint on the American boxing landscape, and he will have his chance in the spotlight on October 1.”
Will Martinez have any trouble getting past Barker in October?
“It is an honor to be returning to HBO for the second time this year,” said Martinez. “Just like my nickname and the title of the show say, I will put on a marvelous performance for fight fans worldwide. I know Darren Barker is a tough challenger and will bring a loud contingent of fans, but so did Kelly Pavlik when I fought at Boardwalk Hall last April. Being universally recognized as the pound-for-pound king is my ultimate goal, and I won’t stop until I’ve achieved that.”
While this won't mark the younger Barker's (23-0, 14 KOs) first professional bout on North American soil, it will be the first time he will have fought in the United States along with this being his first crack at a major world title. Past victories have earned the London native a few European and British Middleweight straps having bested some of the most talented fighters from across the pond.
But those belts and opponents pale in comparison as to what lies ahead for him in October when he faces Martinez for the World Championship, and still, he remains confident.
“I’ve heard all the hype about Sergio Martinez, but I am not going to let that get in the way of my dream of becoming middleweight champion,” said Barker. “I respect Sergio Martinez as a fighter, but he has what I’ve always wanted and on October 1, I’m coming to take it.”
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