By Terence Dooley
Manchester’s David Barnes shook away plenty of ring rust when posting a routine six-threes win over Slovakia’s Ivan Godor at Manchester’s Bowlers Arena on Friday night. Barnes had been out of action since his technical draw with Vivian Harris in March of last year. Furthermore, a car crash last August put paid to a scheduled fight with Ronnie Heffron and led to an anxious few days during which Barnes feared that his injuries would end his career.
Barnes was due to meet Bolton’s Rick Godding in a British welterweight title eliminator on Friday’s Coldwell Promotions bill only for Godding to fail the BBBoC’s check weigh-in, which left promoter Dave Coldwell scrambling around for a late-notice opponent. Step forward the 33-yer-old Godor, who slipped to 11-29-4 (6) after the defeat and was caught with increasing regularity once Barnes found his feet.
“I felt my timing was out a bit, but I hadn’t boxed for time, then I started getting my shots off,” said Barnes when speaking to BoxingScene about the fight. “[Trainer] Bob [Shannon] got me into cracking shape. I’ve been sparring Denton [Vassell] and the lads in the gym. I’m back, this isn’t the end of David Barnes, it is the beginning again.
“I’ve changed my style a bit, I’m going forward a bit more now because I’ve got to show people my power. I know I’ve got power, but tonight I showed it more. I knew I hurt him, but I got the rounds in and my timing returned. He was gone in the last round, just surviving. Even the ref [Alvin Finch] said there was no point stopping it because I was getting some good rounds in. I was dry at first — this is a very cold arena — even though I warmed up well before the fight. I was warmed up a lot better in the last two rounds.”
Godor tried to bum-rush Barnes early in the contest only to be picked apart. As the rounds went by the mercurial southpaw brought his right hook to the party and his speed prompted to Godor to repeatedly mutter, “Too fast, too fast”, between rounds.
“He didn’t really catch me,” said Barnes. “I was looking to throw the hook, but he had his hands up very high, so I didn’t start hurting him until the last two rounds. The more relaxed I become, the more I hit him with.”
Barnes now has to wait on news of his title shot. However, the 26-2-2 (11) contender believes he should be given a crack at the Lonsdale belt rather than have wait around for a rearranged eliminator fight with Godding.
“Why should I wait when I made the weight for the fight — I should be fighting for the British title next,” he said. “I made the check weigh-in, and I’m only 10st 8lb tonight. I made the weight easy, so that eliminator would have been tonight if he hadn’t missed the weight. I’ve been out a year. I got mentally prepared for Rick Godding then something else happened, then something else. It has not been a very good week, I had a lot in my head, but I’ve just got to move on.
“I don’t think anyone in the game can beat me when my head’s on right. I’m in super shape. The only thing that beat me the last times is myself. I had to get my mind and focus spot on, sometimes I don’t believe in myself, and I should do, but now I’m back with Bob and things are coming into place. I’m back home, it feels fantastic.”
Shannon’s refrain of “Nice an’ easy” constantly echoes around his Fighting Fit gym. The training is anything but easy, or nice to go through. “It’s not ‘nice an’ easy’ though is it, as you know from being around,” joked Barnes.
“It is the best gym for getting focused and ready for the fights, that’s all that matters to me. Bob’s like a second dad to me — he’s like family. I didn’t think I’d box again (after the car crash). I thought to myself: ‘That’s me done now’. The car flipped seven times, the ambulance and policeman told me I was lucky to be alive. I took time out, reflected on what I’d done and focused again on what I want to do in the game — I want to be a world champion. I’ve got the right people around me, no negative people, and I need people like that around me. I got sidetracked in the past. I was young, that’s all I can say about it.”
Shannon has always had a soft spot for Barnes. They parted company for a while, but the trainer believes they can rekindle the form that carried Barnes to a decision win over Ted Bami for the vacant the British 140lb title in March 2008.
“David can box at light-welterweight as well, he was light tonight, and he can fight for titles at both weights, so we’re seriously thinking about going down a weight with him,” revealed Shannon. “He’s still got his speed and movement, on his night he’d beat anyone.
“We’ve linked up well again. I think I give him that little bit of extra confidence he needs. I’m glad he’s back home. Lads do move on, but I was his cuts man for the fights he had under [Bolton’s] Karl [Ince], so I was always there for him.
“We realised that some things are meant to be. It is great to have him back. Everyone loves him in the gym, he has natural ability and is a lovely lad — everyone aspires to him and looks up to him. He’s 32, but a young 32 and I think he’s just coming to his peak now. Dave [Coldwell] will get him the right fights — he’ll shine and become British champion again.
“Dave got six good rounds there, he was nice and fresh, and he’s come out with no injuries. We need to kick on now and get him as many fights as possible. Dave Coldwell’s there for him, he’s doing a great job for domestic boxing and keeping lads busy, which helps the grassroots of British boxing.”
Barnes went straight back into the gym after the weekend’s win. The former British welterweight champion is readying himself for sparring duties should Vassell meet current British titlist Frankie Gavin.
“Dave is back in the gym already,” said Shannon. “It shows his determination to get to the top. He’s ready to spar with Denton if Denton gets to fight Frankie Gavin, and what a great fight that will be if it happens.”
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