Hearn backs Barker to shock Martinez in America

Eddie Hearn believes former Repton amateur Darren Barker has the ability to cause a surprise when he meets Sergio Martinez on October 1 in America.

The Argentinean is widely regarded as the finest middleweight in the world and takes on European champion Barker in America with his WBC Diamond Middleweight on the line.

Hearn concedes that 36-year-old Martinez will be favourite when the two clash, but is adamant his man has an excellent opportunity to upset the odds and show how good he is on the world stage.

“It’s the fight Darren wanted because he is good against southpaw fighters. He won’t freeze and he has the style to beat him,” the Matchroom promoter said.

“Sergio is not a natural middleweight. He was put down by Paul Williams and I am not worried about Darren. Everyone knows it will be a challenge, because pound for pound Martinez is probably number two or three in the world.

“He won’t be badly beaten and even if he loses he can challenge for world titles after. It’s a great pay day for him with the fight on HBO.”

It will be a huge step up in class for Barker who is yet to fight a truly world class competitor such as Martinez who has only lost twice in 51 contests, beating the likes of Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik along the way.

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At 29, the Londoner has fought only 23 times as a professional after suffering an agonising hip injury which kept him out of the ring for over a year.

However Hearn believes his dominant victory over Domenico Spada at the Olympia in May to capture the European crown proves the former Commonwealth Games gold medallist has no ring rust ahead of what will be the biggest fight of Barker’s life.

“He showed against Spada what a class act he is,” Hearn said. “He easily beat Spada over the 12 rounds and he has much more to give. Julio Cesar Chavez would have been a good fight for us, but I believe Barker would easily beat Chavez this is a great challenge.”

There will be a further opportunity to fine tune ahead of the Martinez fight when he defends his European title in July against an as yet unnamed opponent.

“The last thing I wanted was for Darren to go a long way without another fight,” Hearn said. “Darren is well followed wherever he fights and this is an opportunity for the fans that can’t get to America to show their support for Darren.”

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