Monday 21 April 2014

 
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Darren Barker

“Dazzling” Darren Barker wants to re-establish himself at the top of the British and European Middleweight pile this season after nearly a year out.

But the man from Barnet will have to wait a little longer after he was forced off of the 'London Calling' bill with a bicep injury. Barker damaged his arm while sparring in the build-up to his comeback fight, having spent the last eleven months recovering from hip surgery, it was a bitter blow.

Barker was ready for another assault on a World title after a fantastic performance in his dream fight with the pound-for-pound number two Sergio Martinez in America in October 2011. But the hip complaint required surgery, an arthroscopy operation and a few months recovery time later he was chomping at the bit to return to action in ‘London Calling’ on September 8 at Alexandra Palace.

On his last outing,the Barnet ace had travelled to the States for his first fight on American soil against the Argentinian star and was well in the fight before Martinez stopped him in the 11th round.

Barker earned the shot at Martinez after winning the vacant European title in April against the tough Italian Domenico Spada – producing a sparkling performance after over a year out of the ring. After 23 pro wins, the 29 year-old is ready to break onto the World scene – with an October showdown with the WBC Diamond champ expected to be confirmed in July.

Barker rose to fame at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where he claimed Gold for England in the light-welterweight division, the highlight of an amateur career that saw him win 55 of his 68 bouts.

Barker turned professional in September 2004 with a points victory over Howard Clarke and his second fight of the year saw him stop David White at the Wembley Conference Centre in December. Barker maintained his unbeaten start to his career in 2005, winning all five of his fights and topped that in 2006, with seven more victories including a points win over Hussain Osman at Alexandra Palace to claim the Southern Area middleweight title.

He took a break from boxing after his boxer brother Gary died in a car accident, but returned to the ring in October 2007 with a third round stoppage of Greg Barton at York Hall. One month later, Barker fought for his first major title in November, taking on unbeaten Ben Crampton for the Commonwealth title, the Australian who had won his previous 20 fights. Barker claimed the belt at York Hall with unanimous decision and defended the title for the first time against Steven Bendall in the same venue with a seventh round stoppage in February 2008.

In December 2008 Barker took six rounds to defended his title for the second time against Jason McKay in Brentwood and then defeated Darren McDermott in May 2009 in a British title eliminator with a seventh round stoppage in Watford.

Danny Butler stood in the way of Barker and the British title in a fight that doubled as his fourth defence of his Commonwealth title. The Brentwood Centre in Essex was the venue as Barker added the British belt to his Commonwealth belt with a seventh round stoppage, extending his professional record to 21-0.

His next fight in April 2010 saw Barker fight for another title – taking on Frenchman Affif Belghecham for the vacant European title at Alexandra Palace, London. The reigning French and EU champion provided the toughest test of Barker’s career to date, but the Londoner shone through in front of his home support, earning a unanimous decision to claim his third title.

The next man in Barker’s sights was Matthew Macklin, the Birmingham-born Irishman who had vacated the European title for a shot at the World belt which never materialised. The pair were ready to do battle in September for the British and European belts after Barker vacated the Commonwealth crown but injury robbed Barker of the chance to appear in the Birmingham show and Macklin went on to beat Barker’s replacement to regain the European crown.

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