Darren Barker will be looking for an upset when he fights boxing star Sergio Martinez in a middleweight bout in Atlantic City on Saturday night.
Martinez, 36, is considered just a notch below Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Barker, 29, is a heavy underdog, but Martinez is not taking him lightly.
I know he's a pretty smart fighter, he is very sneaky, he isn't the flat-footed British slugger who will stand in front of you and go toe-to-toe he isn't like that, said Martinez, to ESPN. He's a fighter who has the intelligence to make a different type of fight. Technically, he is very good; he has good technique, and we hope things to be complicated with him. But if things go as the stats suggest, like I say, or as our styles suggest, it's likely that I will win the fight, probably by knockout.
A knockout victory is what most people expect, and Martinez has the power to pull it off, against a relative unknown. Martinez has won his last three fights against top-quality competition: Sergiy Dzinziruk, Paul Williams, and Kelly Pavlik.
Barker is not in the same category as those boxers, but says he feels loose and confident for the bout, and he might offer Martinez a challenge with his undefeated record in 23 fights, and with 14 coming by way of knockout.
This is what I have dedicated my life to since I was 12 years old, Barker said, according to the BBC. When I am inside those ropes, that's when I am comfortable, that is when I am in my environment.
Confidence may mean little against Martinez, who is an aggressive and strong puncher. The veteran southpaw has an excellent record (47-2-2) and the two losses were to Williams, and Antonio Margarito -- two prominent boxers with strong records themselves.
However, Martinez is taking on a fighter who once fought a gang of hooligans who were attacking a youth after an England-Slovenia World Cup match. Barker was knocked to the floor and repeatedly kicked in the face and head, as he came to the young man's defense, but not before he knocked out three of the hooligans.
It will be that kind of tough attitude that Barker will need to keep him in this fight.
The hard-nosed underdog may have a chance against Martinez if he can force the Argentine to take chances by throwing wildly, which Martinez has been known to do. Some will likely connect, but if Barker can land a hard right on Martinez when he lunges, the north Londoner could have Martinez on his heels.
PREDICTION: Barker is defensive for the first six rounds but manages to hold on against Martinez. However, as the later rounds progress, Barker foolishly takes chances, and Martinez connects with a knock down left cross. Barker continues fighting, but the referee calls the fight in a technical knockout.