Preview: Darren Barker v Felix Sturm
IBF champion Darren Barker set to defend title against German Felix Sturm in December
Darren Barker will make the first defence of his recently earned IBF Middleweight title against veteran German boxer Felix Sturm in Stuttgart on the 7th of December.
31-year-old Barker grabbed the IBF title earlier this year from Aussie Daniel Geale in an emotional and draining fight.
Barker was floored with a vicious body shot but was able to get back up and complete the job. He had achieved the aim of becoming a world champion that he has aspired to for years.
Some were unsure if Barker had what it took mentally to become a world champion and if he had enough determination to rise up when the going gets tough.
Following the fight any such questions have been put to bed. It was a brave performance from a man who was willing to give whatever it took to become the champion.
In order for this wave of joy to continue, Barker will face his mandatory challenger - the experienced 34-year-old Felix Sturm - in Sturm’s home country of Germany.
The location is a real advantage for the German who has been on the right end of a couple of controversial decisions over other British fighters.
In 2011 many thought Sturm was lucky not to have lost his belt to either Mathew Macklin or Martin Murray, with both boxers arguably fighting better.
For this reason, Barker’s promoter Eddie Hearn demanded a huge amount of money for Baker to fight in Germany and also very shrewdly installed a rematch clause.
If Barker was to lose than there would be a rematch in the UK.
Sturm will come into the fight determined to become a world champion again and will hold a record of 38 wins, three losses, two draws and one no contest.
He is a tough, veteran fighter and will pose a real threat to Barker. He does, however, appear to be a slightly faded fighter who isn't quite as good as he used to be.
Barker in contrast will come into this fight at the peak of his skills and with real confidence. Barker will be determined to hold onto his belt and set-up some huge domestic match-ups in the future.
There is talk - and hope - that Barker will face the likes of Martin Murray, Mathew Macklin and Andy Lee in the future.
These would be great domestic dust-ups between some top boxers and would generate a lot of hype and publicity for the sport in the UK.
Thinking too much about such fights is dangerous though - Barker has to get past a real test in Sturm first.
It will be a close fight but a rejuvenated Barker should come out on top. He will look to implement his dazzling boxing skills and at times look to go toe to toe.
Barker has in recent times shown that he has good power in his shots and that his body is now able to take the rigours of being a professional boxer.
Barker is a man on the rise in the sport whereas Sturm is a man on the decline and that may well be the key factor in this fight.
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