By Chris Hammer
Darren Barker feels he's been "massively" written off in America ahead of his showdown with Sergio Martinez later night but insists he'll thrive in the role of the underdog.
The European middleweight champion (23-0, 14 KOs) is preparing for the biggest and toughest fight of his career at the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City with many observers expecting his undefeated record to be ended by the imposing Argentine.
Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) is rated as high as third behind Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather in a number of pound-for-pound rankings following thrilling victories over Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams and the previously unbeaten Serhiy Dzinziruk in his last three fights.
Barker usually has to deal with the pressure of being the favorite but this time he's enjoying the lowered expectation as he sets his sights on proving the doubters wrong and claiming the WBC Diamond title.
The Londoner said: "They've written me off massively over here. At the moment it's Darren Barker with a question mark behind my name - but I'm going to straighten that out.
"After the fight they'll be saying 'Darren Barker - wow, what a fighter'.
"But it's lovey to be the underdog at the same time. I'm revelling in it and enjoying it because the weight of expectation is off my shoulders. I can just go out there and express myself.
"It does feel different than being the favourite. Nobody is expecting anything other than myself and my team. We've got our expectations of what I can do."
Barker agrees that Martinez, 36, deserves be ranked among the best in the world but believes he will be a trickier opponent than his recent victims such as former Ring, WBC and WBO middleweight champion Pavlik.
The 29-year-old said: "What makes me awkward is that I'm a very quick and elusive middleweight, and I think that's where he'll become unstuck. As good a fighter as he is, Pavlik was having a tough time when they fought and he's also a lot slower than me and doesn't move as well as I do.
"I'll be a big sized middleweight and an awkward middleweight for him.
"We've been trying to mirror image his style in sparring. He's quite awkward because he fights in different ways. He comes forward with loads of punches and also moves to draw you in. We've tried to emulate and copy that in sparring to come up with a game plan that we believe can help us win.
"Growing up at Repton they bred a lot of southpaws who were top class internationals. I got used to fighting them and with my style I believe I can nullify what he does.
"My attributes, my hand speed and my ability to be elusive will upset him on the night."
Tags: Sergio Martinez , Darren Barker , Martinez-Barker , Martinez vs Barker