By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
DARREN BARKER insists home advantage will not help Felix Sturm tonight as the German is past his best. The north Londoner makes a first defence of his IBF world middleweight title against Sturm in Stuttgart, with a clause in the contract stating there is a London rematch if he loses.
Barker got off the canvas to win the title on points against Aussie Daniel Geale in August in the best performance of his nine-year professional career.
And Barker, 31, believes his current form will be too much for former world No.1 Sturm, who is not the force he was when losing controversially on points to Oscar De La Hoya 10 years ago.
Barker said: “I think he’s past his best but I’m not taking him lightly when I say that. He’s fast approaching 35 where as I’m at my best and am injury-free. He’s on the slide, he’s had his time and this is my time now.
“In the last couple of years, Sam Soliman and Daniel Geale both got points decisions over there and Martin Murray got a draw.
“I’ve not got long left to be honest. I won’t be like Bernard Hopkins. I had to revaluate my goals when I won the world title, which doesn’t make me less hungry and I still want to leave a legacy.”
Barker believes defending his title in Germany will help him to do that.
“This will be my fourth fight in 364 days, which is the busiest I’ve been in five or six years,” he said.
“I believe I’m world class now because I’ve won the world title. I’m feeling it in the gym and beating Geale showed me that the training methods I’m using now work.”
After two hip operations, Barker has been using some madcap methods to get fighting fit He said: “On the trampoline, I do a lot of running on the spot and punching.
“Because I don’t do any skipping, working on the trampoline doesn’t have the solid impact and has a bit of give. I also wear webbed gloves when I do my work in the pool. It’s a nutty bit of training but it works.”