Darren Barker produced the fight of his life and showed levels of grit and determination that many believed he didn’t possess.
It was a great fight in which Barker looked to force Daniel Geale back and have the last say in every exchange. The viewers were really treated to a superb all action fight.
The Englishman came forward all night and started really well trying to put rounds in the bank. Many believed that Geale would come strong later in the fight as he normally does, so starting well was essential for Barker.
31-year-old Barker came into this fight truly believing that it was his time to shine following all the hard times that he has been through in recent years. Barker had to draw on those moments during this fight and find inspiration when the going got tough.
Barker’s desire was truly tested to the limit in the 6th round when he was dropped by a great shot to the body by his Australian opponent. It looked as though Barker wouldn’t make it up but he managed to find something from within and get to his feet.
He looked dazed and there for the taking after being cleared to continue, and Geale upped the pressure as he looked set to finish Barker.
Barker somehow fought back and actually had Geale against the ropes. It was a remarkable show of determination and anyone who previously questioned Barker’s heart has now been silenced.
The fight carried on in gruelling fashion with Geale trying to land more shots but Barker being the aggressor and for me doing the better work to claim the close rounds. The fight ended with Barker being hurt again in the 12th before yet again fighting back and forcing Geale on the back-foot.
Both men had put on a real display of what a world title should mean and gave absolutely everything that they had in a punishing night.
Following the final bell the atmosphere turned to a nervous tension in which both fighters looked unsure as though who would get the nod. Geale didn’t look like a boxer who thought he had won and was giving off negative body language. For me that is key, and despite his comments after suggesting that he thought he had done enough to win, I think he knew that he hadn’t.
The victory was given to Barker via split decision on the scores of 116-111, 114-113 in his favour and 114-113 to Geale. This was a close fight in which a lot of the rounds could have been called either way but the judges gave credit to Barker for being the aggressor and for me was the deserved winner.
The aftermath of the decision was an emotional display in which Barker, promoter Hearn and trainer Sims all broke into tears.
Barker went on to say: "Not many people know the journey I've been through. It's been a real Rocky story.
"I dedicate this to my late brother. Everything I've done is for him. Gary, this is for you, mate. I take my hat off to Daniel Geale. He's a great champion and a tough, tough man. He caught me right in the solar plexus and completely took my breath away from me.
"I was in absolute bits, I was gone. But, as the seconds went on, my brother and daughter, they got into my head. I showed I've got heart and a lot of people didn't think I did."
Barker was very emotional at this point and says that when he was floored he thought of his departed brother and that forced him to his feet. It was strange to see a trainer and promoter in tears because their fighter had won a world title.
Such strong emotion isn’t shown often in this sport. It is testament to the tough journey that Barker has been through including when he almost gave up the sport following his loss to Martinez and consistent injury struggles.
Barker is now a big-time fighter and can be involved in some brilliant match-ups. The likes of Gennady Golovkin, Sergio Martinez, Julio Cesar Chavez are possible options. I personally would like to see some of the big British fights take place. The likes of Martin Murray, Mathew Macklin and Andy Lee are all top middleweights and it would be fantastic to see them take place.
These all British affairs would be great viewing and has the potential to turn into brilliant rivalries. They would really capture the imagination of the people and would be fights that the fans would want to see.
Before any decision is made Barker needs to take some time off to relax and have a good think about what he wants to do. He should rightly sit-back and enjoy every single moment of being a world champion and will receive a hero’s welcome back in England.
Barker is a brilliant guy and I can’t think of a more deserving person to hold a world title. I myself haven’t been so happy for a boxer to pick up a title. There I sat up alone in my house gone 5 in the morning with a smile on my face. I was so happy and excited for Barker and here I am awake after a few hours sleep equally as pumped up and happy for the man. I can only imagine how Barker feels!
Darren Barker you have done yourself, your family, your friends and your country proud. ‘Dazzling’ Darren Barker the new IBF middleweight world champion. How good does that sound?
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