By Nick Parkinson, courtesy of The Daily Star
DARREN BARKER insists tonight's opponent Daniel Geale is not as good as the last world champion he faced. Barker doesn't think Geale is in the same league as Sergio Martinez
The Londoner, 31, has returned to Atlantic City to take on Aussie Geale for his IBF middleweight belt two years after he was stopped in the 11th round by Argentine Sergio Martinez for the WBC version of the world title.
Defeat to Martinez - ranked the division's No.1 - is Barker's only blemish on his 26-fight record and the former European champion does not rate Geale as highly.
He said: "We both won gold medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and I've known about him for a while. He's busy and awkward and he's different to Martinez.
"I've every respect for him - they don't hand out proper titles like that - and I respect the people he has beat.
Barker is taking on Daniel Geale for his IBF middleweight title Barker is taking on Daniel Geale for his IBF middleweight title
"This is his fifth defence but he has not proved his greatness yet, where as Martinez will go down as one of the greats.
"I can't see Geale pushing on that far. He's not in the same league as Martinez.
"I feel I've matured. I'm in my prime, at 31, now. Not only am I right in my body, I also feel right in my mind."
Chelsea fan Barker feels sharper for training in a swimming pool at Stamford Bridge and regular yoga.
He added: "I've been boxing 20 years and there's niggles you get in training, but the work in the pool and yoga have stopped that.
"This is the best I've ever felt and I'm just going to be too good for Geale."