|British, Commonwealth and European Middleweight champion Darren Barker
|Un-beaten Darren Barker will defend his European Middleweight Title against Birmingham’s LA based former holder and mandatory challenger Matthew Macklin, after Frank Warren won the bids to promote the eagerly anticipated contest, which look’s like talking place in Birmingham.
Barker who also holds the British and Commonwealth titles at middleweight, won the vacant European title in April against Frenchman Affif Belghecham at Alexandra Palace when Macklin was forced to pull out, then relinquishing the title in March, after breaking his nose in sparring.
In recognition of Macklin’s sportsmanship in deciding to vacate the title the European Boxing Union immediately installed him as the number one challenger to the new champion Barker and a chance to reclaim his old belt and a fight set to get the pulses racing in what should be a cracker, although we are still waiting for a venue to be confirmed.
“I gave up the European title because I was injured and I didn’t want to hold the title up and deny other fighters the opportunity to fight for it,” explained Macklin. “Barker got the opportunity and full credit to him for taking it but I never lost the title in the ring so until he gets in there with me Barker’s really only a paper champion.
I just hope that he doesn’t come up with any excuses to find a way of ducking out of the fight and will man up and try to prove that he is worthy of calling himself European Champion.”
Matthew Macklin KOs. Amin Asikainen Rnd 1 to win the European title
Macklin who left Manchester trainer Joe Gallagher recently to join Freddie Roach’s Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles, is rated in the top ten with all four of the World’s major governing bodies so he is well placed to secure a World title shot but will need to claim back his former belt in order to move on.
|Macklin as the former Champion
“Obviously a World title is my ultimate aim and I’m very close to that but I want that European title belt again and this is too good an opportunity to pass up. If I’m honest I see it as an easy night’s work because Barker’s just not in my league. He’s ok at British level but he made very, very hard work of picking up the European title against Belghecham and if he’s as good as he claims to be then that should have been a walk in the park for him.
“I know a lot of people see it as a very competitive fight. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and there has certainly been plenty of talk about it but most people said that the Wayne Elcock and Amin Asikainen fights would be 50-50 affairs and I simply blew them away and I believe I’d do the same with Barker.
“It’s nothing personal against Barker, whenever I’ve been in his company he’s seemed like a decent lad but it’s all about levels and I just don’t believe he’s on the same level as me. I think he and the people around him are deluded if they think he’s capable to winning a World title and as long as he doesn’t try to squirm out of the fight then I’ll prove that.”
Darren Barker Vs Affif Belghecham Barker wins European belt in his last fight
For Londoner Barker, 27, It is the big fight he wanted, but it will not be the biggest fight he has had, Barker has already won that. Just getting back into the ring after the tragic death of his 19-year-old brother Gary in a car accident nearly four years ago has been his greatest victory.
Gary a boxer himself and terrific amateur who had recently won the London ABA title was killed in a car accident in December 2006. Darren was devastated and had to search his soul and get his life together after turning to drink to get over his dear loss.
‘All I wanted to do was go out and get hammered,’ he says. ‘Then I would come home and put on sad music and cry my eyes out.’
He did return to his Essex gym after a few months but he did not feel right. He thought he would have no choice but to pack the game in. Then one day trainer, friend and confidant, asked him to go and see somebody to talk through how he was feeling and to get some professional help.
Darren went to meet Bruce Lloyd, a therapist who specialised in taking emotionally broken people and helping them deal with traumatic events. Darren agreed to see him and after a few painful sessions, Lloyd had him re-assessing what his talent dictated he should do.
‘We talked it all through. He said it was going to hurt but it was about cleaning the wound,’ says Barker. ‘I had no intentions of going back into the ring. In the end, I felt there was something I should be doing.
‘I’ve got a competitive nature and I can’t turn that off. It did go through my mind that fighting again would be disrespectful to Gary. But he wouldn’t have minded, I know. People say that time is the greatest healer, I don’t know how. I don’t think it’s going to heal anything.
It’s always going to be a bad wound. It feels like, emotionally, I’m always going to walk with a limp. It’s just learning to live with that disability.’
Interview with Darren about losing his brother Gary
Ten months after Gary’s death, Darren made a comeback. Another two fights and he was Commonwealth champion, after beating Ben Crampton. His new found drive and will then seen him go on to claim the British and European crowns in what is an absolute credit to his character and a fitting tribute to Gary. www.dazzlingdarrenbarker.com
This fight should be an absolute British boxing classic with little to choose between both fighters in a 50/50 pick em one! Who do YOU think will win it? We are going with Barker on points.
As well has staging Barker, Macklin, Warren, also won the purse bids for Ryan Rhodes’ European Light-Middleweight title defence against Lukas Konecny.
Warren came first with a bid of £125,600 with Barker’s promoter Hennessy Sports coming second and Brian Peter Promotions third.
Warren said, “I’m delighted to have won the rights to stage this fight and will announce a date and venue shortly.”
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