Boxing: daniel geale

Darren Barker triumphs in A.C.

August, 18, 2013
Brit Darren Barker was the busier man against Aussie Daniel Geale in Atlantic City at the Revel on Saturday night, and was rewarded with a split-decision victory as well as the honor of wearing the IBF middleweight belt.

The scrap, which ended with Barker getting love from two of three judges, clarifies things a bit in the middleweight division. You must forgive me, because by all accounts Barker is a solid citizen, a nice lad who has had to surmount, arguably, more hurdles to get to the big stage success than most, but the win solidified for me that finding a stern test for Kazahk detonator Gennady Golovkin won't be easy.

That doesn't take away from my appreciation of a solid prizefight, and my admiration that Barker got the W in honor of brother Gary, a boxer of some promise who died in a 2006 car crash; or my regard for Barker's decency, on display in fall 2011, when he intervened to help a stranger getting attacked on the street in England -- and was pummeled by about 10 guys for his trouble, to the tune of major dental damage.

Barker (26-1) and Geale (29-2) showed desire galore, and gave the fans at Revel's first fight card a solid showing, but no, neither looked to be the type who'd throw a scare into Team Golovkin, and give the ascendent hitter a taste of losing.

I asked Tom Loeffler, the U.S. rep for Golovkin's promoter, K2, his takeaway from the Barker win.

"My take is that we know why Geale wouldn't fight Golovkin (27-0), completely different level of champion," said Loeffler, with a reference to his assertion that then WBA champ Geale had avoided fighting GGG after the WBA ordered him to do so. He then pivoted away from the mild critique, to give a thumbs up to both combatants. "I thought both Geale and Barker showed a lot of heart and both seem to be good guys outside of the ring. It's nice to see classy guys in the middleweight division."

The rumor mill is saying that Golovkin will next tangle with Brownsviller Curtis Stevens, who is also on a KO tear, albeit on a lesser scale. A source at Main Events, Steven's promoter, said that was not a done deal, but signs point to that bout unfolding in N.Y. on Nov. 2.

Sergio Martinez, being a beltholder at middleweight, has to be in theoretical discussions for what comes next for Barker. I asked Team Martinez's Nathan Lewkowicz* his take on the Barker triumph. "I think it shows that Sergio fights top fighters," he said, referring to Martinez's Oct. 2011 KO11 victory over Barker, which at the time didn't draw universal praise for Sergio. "People said Barker was not that good and obviously he is. Sergio's next fight will be in April or March. We're looking to make a big splash with his return." Lewkowicz said Martinez' recent knee surgery is playing out well, that he is working out twice a day already.

Some names in possible play for Martinez' next go, we've heard, are Miguel Cotto, who would move up from 154, Floyd Mayweather, who wouldn't, Golovkin, Barker and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who dropped a lopsided decision to Sergio in Sept. 2012 but spurred rematch interest with a 12th-round knockdown of the champ. We hear Team Martinez would entertain that sequel only if Chavez Jr. agreed to rigorous PED testing.

Readers, lay out your best-laid plans for how you'd like to see the middleweight puzzle pieces get moved about in the near future.

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*=Lewkowicz on Sunday clearly wanted to exult some in the win by Kiko Martinez at Revel. Martinez, a 27-year-old Spaniard managed by Sergio Martinez and promoted by Nathan's father Sampson Lewkowicz, is 5-5, but he fought twice as tall and nasty against IBF super bantam champ Jhonatan Romero of Colombia. Martinez, now 29-4, scored a TKO6 win, one of three title changes shown on HBO. "Kiko is the Lucas Matthysse of the super bantamweights," Nathan told me. "He put in hard work and it shows that having the right trainer (Pablo Sarmiento) and a great team can produce some positive changes in a fighter."
With Glen Johnson retiring, it may well be time for boxing to bestow the "Road Warrior" nickname on another pug. Middleweight Giovanni Lorenzo, the Dominican-born hitter who lives in Yonkers, should merit consideration. He's gloving up against Sam Soliman, an Aussie, in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, on Friday night in an IBF eliminator. The winner of that scrap is in line to fight the winner of the Sept. 1 Felix Sturm-Daniel Geale fight, in Germany.

The Germany-based Sturm holds the WBA crown currently, while Geale, also an Aussie, holds the IBF version.

This will be the fourth time in three years that Lorenzo, age 31, has traveled overseas for a meaningful bout. In September 2009, he lost a SD12 to Germany's Sebastian Sylvester in Germany for the vacant IBF belt. The following year, he went back to Germany to fight Sturm, and lost a UD to that beltholder. His next fight, seven months later, he went to France to fight France-based Cameroonian Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam, who at the time held the WBA interim world middleweight title. Lorenzo's luck stayed the same; he lost a UD12 in that scrap.

I asked Lorenzo about his travelin' blues. "I have lost some big fights on the road," he said. "Those losses were painful, but I realize now that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, from those disappointments grew a more dedicated, more determined, hungrier fighter. I know realize I can't box and win on the road, I have to destroy. I have all the respect in the world for Sam, he is a great fighter and a gentleman, he will not quit, he is going to be a tough out. I have to be an assassin, you will see that all come out Friday night or I will retire from boxing."

This opportunity came about, according to manager Rich Ryan, because the IBF No. 2 Soliman had a hard time getting anyone to meet him on his home turf. That's no hurdle for Gio, rated No. 6 by the IBF.

"The Soliman-Lorenzo fight is going to be a real barn-burner based on styles," Ryan told NYFightBlog.

Gio and Ryan are in Australia, and report that Team Soliman has treated them royally. "He took our team out for an Australian Rules football game last week," Ryan said. "He is a class act."
Gennady Golovkin, who might be the best middleweight -- hell, one of the best boxers, pound for pound -- who you don't know, was at Madison Square Garden scouting Sergio Martinez Saturday night. The Kazahkstan-born hitter, who lives in Stuttgart, Germany, and is trained by Californian Abel Sanchez, told ESPN New York, in halting English, that he thinks he's the best middleweight out there right now, including Martinez, and that he would like an opportunity to prove it by fighting Martinez.

Asked whom he thought would win in the main event -- Martinez or Matthew Macklin -- Golovkin picked Martinez. "He has more power," he said. "I think by KO."

Tom Loeffler, who helps run the Klitschko brothers' promotional company, told me that K2 wants to do Golovkin-Martinez, but down the line a bit. First, the company would like to whet the U.S. fans' appetites by showcasing Golovkin on HBO. That could happen in November, Loeffler said.

Golovkin (22-0, 19 KOs), the 29-year-old WBA world middleweight champ (who happens to look nine years younger), stood by as I queried Loeffler, Golovkin's baby face not at all indicative of his chosen trade.

Golovkin wants WBA super world champ Felix Sturm first, and that could happen in September. Golovkin said he has been chasing Sturm (who also lives in Germany, so catching him shouldn't be that hard to do) for two years. Sturm next fights Sebastian Zbik, on April 13, while Golovkin will fight in May against an opponent to be determined. Loeffler also said he'd like, ideally, to see Golovkin take out Daniel Geale, the IBF champ, and/or WBO champ Dmitriy Pirog, to consolidate the crowns.

Sanchez, who trained Terry Norris and Miguel Angel Gonzalez, said Golovkin is better than Norris right now. He told me he has superstar potential, and more.

"He is by far the best fighter I've ever worked with," Sanchez said. Golovkin, Sanchez said, is more cerebral and a better technician than Norris, the ex-junior middleweight champ. "He's the biggest puncher you've ever seen, bar none. Nothing wild, nothing long, everything is compact."

I don't think I've ever come across a trainer as enthused about his client as Sanchez is about Golovkin. He said his fighter has already run Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Peter Quillin and Alfredo Angulo out of the ring in sparring. Sanchez also told me he has a written list at his gym, with Muhammad Ali being No. 1, a blank for No. 2 and Sugar Ray Robinson at No. 3. Give it some time, Sanchez says he told Golovkin, and you will take that slot behind Ali. For that matter, I don't recall the last time I heard a promoter offer to put his guy in against anyone at 154, 160 or 168 pounds, as Loeffler did.

"Andre Ward?" I asked.

"Maybe, yes," Golovkin said.

Hey, I report, and hopefully soon we'll see this kid on American TV, and we'll all decide.