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Barker: No Disrespect, But Hope is Not in My League

By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star

DARREN BARKER aims to bounce back into the world title reckoning – just months after thinking his career was over.

The Barnet bruiser will be back in the ring against fellow Brit Kerry Hope at London’s Olympia on ­December 8, but said: “I thought I was finished.”

Middleweight Barker’s clash with Simone Ritolo was called off last month when he tore a bicep – his ­latest in a string of injuries.

He added: “I was at rock bottom. I thought that it was all over and that I was finished.

“It was soul-destroying. I hit the bottom and just didn’t know what to do. Quitting was certainly on the cards.

“At one point, I announced my ­retirement to myself.

“I have had a number of injury ­setbacks but now I am fine and ­mentally switched on after hitting that low point.

“I don’t like hearing sob stories but that was the case with me. I hit rock bottom and it was horrible.

“When you go through traumatic times, they do test your personality and resilience.”

The ex-European champion’s ­determination to get back into the world title reckoning helped drive him on to recovery.

Barker, 30, came up short in his last title bid against WBC champion Sergio Martinez 14 months ago but now feels he is ready for another challenge.

He hopes that a victory over Hope, another ex-European champion, will show everyone that he is back to his best.

The defeat by Martinez has been the only one in his 24-fight career and he is determined not to have ­another this time around.

He said: “No disrespect to Kerry, but he’s not in my league. If I ­impress against him, I’m back on the world scene.

“Fighting a former European champion in a domestic dust-up makes it a very interesting fight ­indeed.

“I want to look good every time I fight. The pressure is on me because I am a league above him and I am the more experienced fighter.

“I want to make a statement by proving that I am a world-class ­operator. Kerry will discover that in December.

“I want to get some momentum ­going, which I haven’t been able to do over the last two years.

“I’ve turned the page and mentally I feel so switched on. I’m ready to kick-start my career again.”

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