By Terence Dooley
Barnet's Darren Barker, 23-1 (14), has put his injuries worries to bed and is now eyeing an Autumn return as he bids to ease back from his October 2011 defeat to middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and work towards a second world title tilt. Barker is pencilled in for a September outing in London and has vowed to secure another world title opportunity in 2013, even going as far as reminding WBA titlist Felix Sturm that there is one British boxer that he has yet to tackle after the Germany-based boxer's struggles with Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray in 2011.
“I'm getting over my hip operation,” said Barker when speaking to BoxingScene. “It is going well and healing up. We're looking at September in London for my next fight. I have to be a bit more patient now, but I want to move my career on a bit after fighting Martinez because I still want that world title.”
There were rumours that the 30-year-old's injury niggles could force him to call time on his career. Barker, though, insists that he has a few years left in him. “It wasn't – it was just that I just had to have it done and push on,” said Barker when asked if his hip problem was a career-threatening injury.
“There was never any chance of me not fighting again. You've got to find the balance when looking at my next opponent, but I'm content to carry on where I left off and obviously get back to winning ways before pushing on to the top-level. It would be nice to fight Grzegorz Proksa [should the Polish boxer win back his EBU title from Kerry Hope on July 7]. I wouldn't mind fighting either [Hope or Proska], but I've got a lot of faith in [Matchroom's] Eddie Hearn and my team, so we'll wait and see what happens.”
As for Sturm, the 33-year-old brought Barker's domestic rivals Macklin and Murray over to Germany, but there has been no sign of “Leonidas” going for a U.K. treble by offering Barker a fight should he overcome IBF titlist Daniel Geale on September 1. “We've had no offers from him yet”, said Barker, “but I'd go straight out to Germany for Sturm – no problem.”
Macklin recently told BoxingScene's Scottish terrier Shaun Brown that he views a meeting with either Barker or Murray as a “stepping stone” en route to another world title crack. “Mack The Knife” looked sharp against Martinez in March, but was floored twice by smart counters in round 11 and then pulled out by trainer Buddy McGirt at the round's end.
The Macklin, Barker and Murray rivalry has captured the imagination of many British fans, but it looks increasingly likely that they will never meet. Should they face-off, Barker believes that Macklin will be made to eat his words.
“It did surprise me a bit to be honest. Myself and Martin deserve more respect because we've proved that we're top-level fighters, so to be called a 'stepping stone' was quite an insult and is something that will come back to haunt him,” Barker's take on Macklin's comment.
As for “Dazzling”, his final message was one of defiance. “I do, I really do,” his answer to my question of whether he really thinks his best years could lie ahead. “I've not been able to give that little extra because of injuries, but I can put that extra in now and you'll see a bit more of the real Darren Barker.”
Please send news and views to [email protected] or Twitter @Terryboxing.