HBO Deal Reached for Sergio Martinez vs Darren Barker

World middleweight champion Sergio Martinez will indeed face Darren Barker on October 1, with HBO televising. There had been rumors and talk that HBO might not approve the fight, and that promoter Lou DiBella would then shop the fight elsewhere or put it on himself, but a deal has been reached according to Dan Rafael.

Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KO) has gone on a tremendous three-fight run that has made him a major player in the pound-for-pound discussion. He won the lineal middleweight championship from Kelly Pavlik in April 2010, and followed that with a vicious one-punch knockout of Paul Williams in November. He's fought just once this year, beating Sergiy Dzinziruk in March.

Martinez, 36, and DiBella have had trouble finding attractive opponents, and with pleasing HBO because of that. But HBO has played a role here, too, as they turned down a fight between Martinez and Sebastian Zbik, which forced Martinez to give up his WBC belt. HBO then followed up with a boldly transparent move, approving a fight between paper titlist Zbik and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, a ratings draw nowhere near Martinez's level in the ring. They have their reasons, but networks are almost never that blatant about decisions like that.

Barker (23-0, 14 KO) is largely unknown in the States, but he's a good fighter. Yes, he is going to be a serious underdog, and his chances of winning are slim. But I think right now you'd say that about anyone in the middleweight division facing Sergio Martinez. Barker is a contender who has the Commonwealth, British, and European titles at 160 pounds.

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