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12 NOVEMBER 2018


Darren Barker Exclusive Pt 1 - I Want Sturm, Geale or Chavez

Martinez lands a right hand on Barker
Martinez lands a right hand on Barker

By Tom Gray: Darren Barker’s drive to become world champion has only intensified since his 11th round knockout defeat at the hands of Sergio Martinez in October. The affable boxer puncher fought courageously against the pound for pound star but the experience and natural talent of ‘Maravilla’ was ultimately decisive.

“I learned bundles in that fight” acknowledges the 29 year old middleweight. “I think I showed Sergio a bit too much respect but it’s hard to avoid that when you’re in with a great champion - it’s just finding that fine line. Now I know how good I am, whereas before I don’t think I was sure to be honest with you. That fight was my bench mark and I’ve come on loads since then.”

“A few observers noted that I could have attacked Martinez more but it’s easier said than done and I’d love some of these geezers get in there and try it” laughs Barker. “I could have opened up a little more but you can’t be too gung-ho when you’re in with an opponent of that caliber, just look at Paul Williams who got knocked spark out when he tried it.”

“Dazzling” Darren Barker 23-1 (14 KO’s) had a highly successful amateur career which culminated in a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2002. Since then his determination and talent have been instrumental in securing British, Commonwealth and European titles as a professional. Put simply, coming in second place does not suit and, having re-assessed the middleweight landscape, he is desperate for a second chance.

“I hope to get Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in the ring” states the Londoner bluntly. “I just can’t see myself losing that fight and the way things are going, with referees and judges being scrutinized, it might be a good time to go abroad and get a fair shake for once. In terms of the fight itself, it would be a wide unanimous decision or I could even force a stoppage.”

Barker continues; “Don’t get me wrong, Chavez is the stereotypical Mexican and a very tough kid but I fancy that job and I wouldn’t be in the ring unless I thought I could do the business. Politics could get in the way because Sergio Martinez is the WBC mandatory challenger but I want that fight badly. This guy is hardly a chip off the old block is he?”

Felix Sturm, the WBA Super champion, has probably seen enough British fighters to last him a career. He struggled desperately against Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray in his previous two outings and it appears, at least for now, that the German tactician is living on borrowed time. Indeed, one could argue that hometown decisions are solely responsible for him still being a world champion.

“I have too much for Sturm in terms of agility and elusiveness” states Barker confidently. “I’m difficult to catch and I’m good on my feet, which is the reason Martinez struggled against me. Martin Murray would have beaten Sturm if he had avoided going to the ropes. That tactic gave Sturm time to unload and those moments were decisive in the scoring. I thought Macklin edged his fight against Sturm but at the end of the day the judge’s cards are the only ones that count.”

The biggest puncher at 160lbs is Dmitry Pirog who burst on to the scene by flattening Golden Boy prospect, Daniel Jacobs, last year. Barker’s respect noticeably increases when attention turns to Russia’s WBO champion; “I think Pirog is one of the real danger men in the division; he’s big for the weight, he’s awkward and he’s very tough.”

“Having said that I would love to get in there with him and, although it’s a hard fight, I believe I have the beating of him. Of all the champions, he’s the one I rate directly below Martinez in terms of ability. Gennady Golovkin (WBA Champion) is another danger man and I don’t think Felix Sturm will want anything to do with him if he is installed as his mandatory.”

Australian Daniel Geale is the IBF titlist and the forgotten man in the middleweight mix but Barker, a keen student of the game, has known of him for years; “I remember Geale from the amateurs, he was either a weight up or down from me. He won Commonwealth gold (in 2002) and he fought at the world championships.”

“It might sound like I can take on the world but I believe he’s another one I can beat. I was in there, to a degree, against Martinez and he beat me fair and square but I fancy myself against any of the other champions. There’s Martinez and then there’s the rest, so let’s make these fights a reality.”

Barker feels that a world title challenge is a strong possibility in 2012 and he is more than ready for whatever lies ahead; “With Martinez stopping me in eleven rounds it gives the other champions the incentive to try and do a better job. They could take a fight against me to get a better result and then claim that they are the best in the division.”

“I want to fight Sturm, Geale or Chavez and I want to become world champion - simple as that.”

Follow Tom Gray on!/tgraysecondsout

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