By Alexey Sukachev
Darren Barker, 30, came back after more than a year-long hiatus, which followed his spirited effort in the Sergio Martinez fight in October 2011, and never looked better than in his dominating stoppage of the Welshman Kerry Hope (18-5, 1 KO) at the Olympia hall in London, England. Barker acquired the vacant IBF I/C 160lb title in the process.
IBF #7 Hope, 31, experienced in an unusual up-and-down route this year, scoring an upset of the year candidate early on against European champion Grzegorz Proksa in March before being downplayed to his usual level four months later. This time Hope started effectively against a bit rusty Barker but then was outboxed and outpunched by a much more talented fighter. Hope hoped his southpaw stance will pay off against an orthodox fighter but that wasn't the case with much more experienced former Commonwealth champion Barker. In the second round the "Dazzling" Londoner has re-adjusted his style to Hope and began to trouble him with his right hand.
He took the third and then came the fourth stanza. Barker exploded with a chilling right hand while on the attack. Hope missed with the counter and had a right bomb landing flush on his chin. The Welshman went down hard. He got up at the count of six and continued fighting but his own corner wasn't convinced and threw in the towel at 1:05 of the fourth, making it a stoppage win for Barker, who had a wonderful comeback.
IBF #7 welterweight Carson Jones (34-9-3, 24 KOs) continued his British tour with a damaging setback, being held to a draw by well-travelled Irishman Dean Byrne (16-2-1, 6 KOs). The sole score was 76-76 - by referee Ian John-Lewis, which has exactly reflected the flow of the fight. Jones, a busy pressure Stateside boxer, looked frustrated in the opening rounds by a late sub Byrne, who has replaced Lee Purdy within a week. Byrne, 28, who has fought in Australia, USA, Ireland and the United Kingdom, was boxing effectively along the ropes and showed very fine lateral movement against straightforward aggressor in Jones.
The Irishman took the first couple of rounds and fought on even terms with a more experienced (but younger at 26) opponent in the third and in the fourth stanzas. After the midpoint, Byrne began to feel fatigue and faded considerably down the stretch. Jones, on the other hand, sensing his foe is either hurt or rapidly losing gas in his fuel tank, rushed in and landed some heavy leather in the next three rounds. He was also able to cut Byrne on his right cheek. Nevertheless, the Irishman had his moments with the American's defense being full of holes. Byrne didn't possess a big punch to hurt the American but otherwise he was quite successful. Jones fought very hard in the closing round but it was Dean Byrne, who landed cleaner and better punches throughout the last three minutes.
Light middleweight Erick Ochieng (12-1, 4 KOs) beat Max Maxwell (16-13-3, 3 KOs) on points in a ten-rounder and defended his BBBofC English 154lb title for the third time.
Lightweight Martin Joseph Ward (4-0) outpointed veteran Dougie Curran (7-16-2) over four rounds.
In a battle of two unbeatens, rising middleweight John "The Gorilla" Ryder (13-0, 8 KOs) scored his most impressive win so far by stopping fellow undefeated Eamonn O'Kane in the eighth round of scheduled ten. The fight was also a BBBofC British middleweight eliminator, which meas Ryder is in line for a winner of the upcoming (Dec. 15) title affair between Billy Joe Saunders and Nick Blackwell.
Ryder, a southpaw with some sound defensive skills, started slowly, and O'Kane, 30 and winner of the recent middleweight Prizefighter series, got the lead with his amateurish but annoying pressure. Ryder, six years his younger, found himself on the losing part in the second stanza as well. From that point of the fight was all his.
Ryder began to counter O'Kane wisely with a sneaky left uppercut and a left cross in the third. He continued to fire off sporadically but allowed O'Kane little to none success during his assaults. Ryder got specifically effective after the midpoint of the bout, banging O'Kane on his way out. Rounds piled up for the Londoner, and the eighth round proved to be the last. Ryder dazed O'Kane badly with a smashing left counter hook early into the second minute of the stanza and then continued to pound the N.I. native with single left hands up untile referee Howard John Foster saw enough and saved the Irishman from further punishment at 1:33 of the round. Great victory for the Gorilla.
Rising bantamweight star and former amateur standout Khalid "Kal" Yafai (6-0, 5 KOs) left no chance of success to Spaniard Jorge Perez (11-6, 6 KOs), stopping him with twenty seconds remaining in the third round. Yafai, 23, dropped his opponent hard with a body punch late in the first but was countered well (also to the body) in the second. However, in the third Yafai has finally pulled a trigger and started to fire off with vengeance. He provided a continuous assault and punished Perez mercilessly untile refere Marc Green (and Perez's corner) has seen enough and waved the fight off with the Spaniard still being on his feet.