Game of Dethrones: Martinez takes out Romero in 6, Barker edges Geale over 12
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Game of Dethrones: Martinez takes out Romero in 6, Barker edges Geale over 12
By Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing (Aug 18, 2013)

Darren Barker / Game of Thrones - Parody by icheehuahua, Doghouse Boxing
(Darren Barker / Game of Thrones - Image / Art by icheehuahua, Doghouse Boxing)
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Fortunes rose and fell big time on HBO’s split site tripleheader Saturday night as three world titles changed hands.

Saturday night. In the opener at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales, young Nathan Cleverly lost his WBO light heavyweight title in a voluntary defense against Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev via one-sided four round beat down.

  At the Revel Report in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Kiko Martinez, 29-4, (21) rained on Jhonatan Romero, 23-1, (12), in a six rounds relentless punching storm to capture the IBF super bantamweight title. Romero picked up the vacant belt in February via split decision over Alejandro Lopez and was making his first defense. Martinez was stopped by Belfast, Ireland contender Carl “The Jackal” Frampton in the ninth round of a similar scrap back in February, Kiko had since got back in the win column with an April second round TKO of Damian Marchiano. This was a classic match-up of the boxer Romero versus the pressure fighting slugger Martinez.  

From the opening bell, Martinez, who hails from Alicante, Communidad Valenciana, Spain, trains with Gabriel Sarmiento and is promoted by Sergio Martinez’ Maravilla Box Promotions, was a relentless punching machine. His punch frame is tight though his right hand bomb is a sneaky looping shot that can catch you off guard or around it. Coupling that with a left hook while mixing in a poleaxe jab and a crushing rib attack, Martinez fought like a man with nothing to lose and everything to gain.  

Romero, a classic boxer with pride and the youth at age 26 to withstand an early onslaught, bided his time and boxed off his jab in the center of the ring in the first but was time and again bullied to the ropes by Martinez. Hailing from Cali, Colombia, Romero is no doubt a tough fighter and he showed fire as well as pride as he shot punches in bunches from the corner ropes keep Martinez off him. In particular, he utilized a jab right rear uppercut combination that kept him in the fight as long as he was.  

But Martinez had to have that title. By the third, the right eye of the 5’9” Romero was bleeding and swelling rapidly. His left wasn’t much better off and he had to be gasping for air with all the body punching. What looked like boxing smart earlier became outright retreat from one set of ropes to the other as Martinez bullied forward behind his jab and left/right hooks.  

Romero was out on his feet for a good long while in the sixth before referee David Fields waved the fight off at 2:40 of the sixth round.  

A jubilant Martinez, who became the first Spaniard to win a world title at 122 pounds, said afterwards “Pinch me, please because this is a dream for me. I just can’t believe it. I’m super happy. I have no words. I’ve made it.” And then he called out Nonito Donaire who lost to WBA and WBO super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, 12-0, (8) the same April Martinez had his comeback fight. Donaire is currently in Las Vegas celebrating the birth of his first child and deciding who his new team and weight will be. He currently holds no world titles but does possess an HBO date, according to some reports.

Moments after the fight was over, Rigo’s manager, Gary Hyde, tweeted “Guillermo Rigondeaux-Kiko Martinez lets make it happen!!!”

  That fight would be a much higher level version of this fight with two differences: It would be for the WBO, WBA and IBF titles at 122 pounds and the pure boxer, Rigo, would have two equalizers (his right and left hands) that Romero did not. It’s an excellent fight for Rigo’s first defense of unified titles he won beating HBO regular Donaire. It makes total sense.  

  In the exciting closer, “Dazzling” Darren Barker, 26-1, (16) survived a sixth round knockdown off a left hook to the body to edge out now former IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale by scores of 114-113, 116-111 and 113-114. The fight was another classic banger versus boxer match-up with neither man giving quarter in a back and forth battle for the right to make a run at the biggest fights the middleweight division has to offer.  

  Barker and Geale came out looking to be aggressive and take control right out the gate. Barker caught Geale with a left hook inside as Geale came in after landing a wide right hand. The shot changed things for Geale, who got a bit tentative about eating that left. Barker found success with the right hand as well early on.  

Geale stepped up his aggression as the fight wound on, digging to the body and coming up the middle with uppercuts and hooks. Barker responded to each rally. The rounds were hard to score save for the sixth which featured a nasty left hook to Barker’s body that froze and dropped him to the canvas.

  He rose at the count of nine and for a moment, the stoppage window was open for Geale. But try as he might he was not able to close it and the moment passed with the round.

  From there, they battled for control with momentum shifting within the rounds. Barker seemed to come on sharper later. Then came the twelfth.  

Each man fought as if the fight was on the table and looking at the scores, it was. Geale took this round on my card as he hurt Barker late and almost put him away. But Barker, who had lost his first middleweight title bid to Sergio Martinez just down the way at the Boardwalk Hall via eleventh round knockout, wasn’t going to lay down in what might have been his last shot. He stayed on his feet and the crowd applauded the excellent effort all around.  

With the middleweight division heating up on HBO around WBA champion Gennady Golovkin and WBC champion Sergio Martinez, newly crowned IBF champion Darren Barker has options. While his belt owes a mandatory defense to Felix Sturm, there is the rematch with Geale and the aforementioned Golovkin since Martinez is out with injury until early 2014. There’s also a fight in the UK versus Martin Murray that could be lucrative.  

Three world titles in three new sets of hands with the possibilities for more even more great fights to come; Boxing is alive and well.

You can email Gabriel at, follow him on Twitter at and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim, now at its new home, You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PST.
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