Darren Barker is aiming for a big summer showdown after he dismantled Simone Rotolo in four rounds at the Wembley Arena in London on Saturday.
A cracking uppercut from Barker rocked the Italian in the second half of the opener and he hit the deck as Barker dug in a body shot after picking some terrific shots in a calculated assault.
Rotolo survived the round but was shaken by spiteful work in the second and third rounds from the former European champion who moved into top gear in the fourth round, hurting the Italian champion on several occasions, and ultimately forcing him to retire on his stool.
Barker was clinical and powerful in the ring as he boxed for the second time in three months, and the new IBF Inter-Continental middleweight champion is eyeing big fights with the likes of Andy Lee, Matthew Macklin, Martin Murray and Peter Quillin.
“I want to fight these World class fighters, whether they’re the World champions or the domestic guys,” said Barker. “It’s exciting times as there are big fights out there for me and I’ll get back in the gym in a couple of weeks and Tony Sims and Eddie Hearn will sit down and sort that out for me.
“I’m game and I’ll fight anyone, I proved that when I went to America and fought Sergio Martinez and I’m ready for a big fight now.
“I haven’t fought twice in three months since I started, but I feel so good right now, I was so sharp in the gym and training has been going well. I’m buzzing, I feel like a young man again and I don’t want to be out of the gym,”
George Groves began life with new promoter Eddie Hearn with an impressive stoppage of Dario German Balmaceda – dropping the Argentine with a body shot in the second round before a sustained attack in the third was punctuated with an overhand right that ended the contest after 56 seconds of the round. The Hammersmith star moves to 17-0 and his focus switches to his chief-support slot live on Sky Box Office when Carl Froch meets Mikkel Kessler on May 25 at the O2 Arena.
“It was a clean performance, I didn’t take any heavy shots and I landed a few good shots,” said Groves. “We’ve got to sit down and see what we can come up with for May 25 – there’s no immediate rush to name someone but it will be substantial I am sure.”
The rest of the undercard served up some tasty battles, with Danny Cassius Connor retaining his Southern Area light welterweight title in a cracking rematch with Chris Evangelou. Their first fight in September was an undercard classic and this offering matched it, with Connor claiming the win by 97-93 on Terry O’Connor’s card, two knockdowns from body shots in the seventh round underlining his victory.
Lee Purdy overcame the disappointment of a second cancellation with Carson Jones to defend his IBF International welterweight title with a ninth round stoppage of Cosme Rivera. The Essex man put the former World title challenger on his back in the opening round, and was always the aggressor against the game Argentine, who was cut by a stiff right in the seventh round that worsened through Purdy’s continued onslaught.
China Clark claimed the English cruiserweight title in a brutal battle with Wadi Camacho. The unbeaten pair traded vicious blows for seven rounds before Camacho’s corner pulled their man out of action, handing the belt to the Leeds man who floored the Londoner in the sixth.
Liam Shinkwin claimed his first pro honours in a great fight with Ryan Taylor for the Southern Area lightweight belt – with Shinkwin’s classy work earning the win in the eyes of referee John Keane who raised his hand to the tune of a 97-93 win.
There were eight-round successes for John Ryder and Erick Ochieng, while Martin J. Ward celebrated stepping up to six-round action by recording his first win inside the distance, getting Kevin Hanks out of the way in five.