Former British/Commonwealth and European middleweight ruler and former world title challenger Darren Barker faces former European champ Kerry Hope, 17-4(1) on December 8th. Here the 30-year-old with the 23-1(14) record talks about the fight and more with BritishBoxers.co.uk.
Q: You must be tired of talking and doing interviews right now, and just anxious to get in there and fight after all the frustration you’ve been through?
DB: No, it’s fine talking, But yeah, this last year and a bit has been very frustrating, I’ve done a lot of soul searching, but I’ve pulled through and I’m feeling good now. I feel strong, mentally and physically, and that was the toughest thing really, the mental side of it. But now, I really do feel good. I feel like I did when I was eighteen.
Q: Is the possibility of ring-rust a concern, as you will be fighting having had 14-months out? I know you fought after a year’s layoff and boxed well.
D.B: Of course there is an element of that there, but I’ve put it to the back of my mind; and I’ve done lots of sparring to get myself ready. I’ve been boxing for 18-years now, and it’s like riding a bike in that you never forget. So no, I’m not concerned at all myself. Obviously, my match fitness will improve with each fight.
Q: What do you think about Kerry Hope, your opponent on Dec. 8th? I read how you said you feel you are a class above him, but do you see him as a threat?
D.B: I have to look at him as a threat, as he’s in my way; he’s standing between the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if you like. I have to take care of business in this fight, but I do stand by what I said regarding me being a higher class than he is – me pushing [Sergio] Martinez all the way proves that. And like I’ve said, Kerry Hope had his Cinderella moment in the first [Grzegorz] Proksa fight, but there will be no Cinderella II. I’m not being disrespectful to Kerry at all, but bigger and better things are out there for me. But I’d never be naïve enough to look past any fighter.
Q: How do you see the fight going? Will you look for the KO, by way of a statement, or will you look to out-box Hope?
D.B: With my experience, I feel I will always be able to adapt a few game-plans when I need to do so. I can box and I can come forward and fight – my 14 KO’s prove I have at least a bit of a dig. Again, I’m not disrespecting Kerry, but I can see a lot of ways in which I can win, but not too many ways at all that he can beat me.
Q: Kerry is a southpaw as you know, any thoughts on that?
D.B: If anything, I prefer southpaws [over orthodox opponents]. If you offered me a southpaw over an orthodox, I’d bite your hand off (laughs). That goes back to my Repton days, where there must have been something in the water as there were so many southpaws bread there! So if anything, his southpaw stance favours me.
Q: You are on a big bill on SKY on Dec. 8th, do you think Eddie Hearn will get you the big fights you both want and need?
D.B: 100-percent. Just look at the Martinez fight. That fight being made was down to Eddie – and Twitter, believe it or not. So if Eddie can get me that fight, what fight can’t he get for me? It’s the best decision I’ve ever made, signing with Eddie Hearn.
Q: This is really not your side of things, Darren, but what do you make of the recent criticism Frank Maloney has had of Eddie Hearn, where he basically said he doesn’t think Eddie Hearn knows what he’s doing!
D.B: The first thing I think of is jealously. That’s the only way I can think of it. Why would you have a dig at Eddie Hearn when he’s doing all these great shows – with Carl Froch and the Christmas Cracker show and all the others? Eddie is getting huge numbers on SKY and people are buzzing because of that. How can you knock him? He [Maloney] deserves respect and credit himself, as he’s been around a long time, but I do think it’s jealousy.
Q: With the time you’ve been forced to remain inactive, is there a sense of making up for lost time; in that you will look to box again after this fight sooner than you would have done before?
D.B: 100-percent! I have to stay busy and I need to get some momentum going. But at the same time, I won’t look to rush into a world title. I have complete faith in Eddie Hearn and Tony Sims, and that world title shot will come for me. But it is definitely a case of pushing on and getting some real momentum going now.
Q: A world title is still you main goal of course, as you’ve achieved everything else. Would you like Martinez again, or would you like a shot at one of the other middleweight champions?
D.B: I learnt so much from the Martinez fight; I’d love to get in there with him again. He was feared and I made him look ordinary. After my fight with him, they all came out of the woodwork and wanted to fight him. I’d love another go, but I don’t think there’s much chance of it happening. Aside from Martinez, there’s Daniel Geale, who of course beat Felix Sturm; although I don’t know what the situation is between he and the WBA. And I’d also like to fight the domestic guys, [Matthew] Macklin and [Martin] Murray.
Q: I was going to ask you: you and Macklin go back a long way; the fight was on, then off, then on, then off. That fight still interests you
D.B: Of course it does. I feel I’m the best middleweight in the U.K and those fights (Barker/Macklin/Murray) would bring back the days of the Benn/Eubank/Collins rivalry. Those fights would also attract attention all over the world.
In the Ring with – Q&A with Darren Barker
Darren how did you get into boxing:
“My dad got me into it. He was a very
modest man, who never showed off his trophies, but he made me want to be
Who inspired you in the beginning:
“My dad again.”
Best advice you were ever given:
“If he hits you, hit him back twice! And, if he can’t hit you at all, he can’t beat you.”
Where do you train:
“Tony Sim’s gym in Essex.”
Who is your coach:
“I had 55 wins and 14 losses. I won Commonwealth gold at light-welter in 2002.”
The funniest thing you’ve seen in boxing:
“There are two; the paraglide
thing in the Holyfield-Bowe fight, and the Cello Renda-Paul Samuels
Craziest thing you’ve read about yourself:
“An American writer once wrote so many negative, spiteful things about
me I couldn’t believe it. I’ll never regret not reading another one of
If you weren’t a boxer what would you be:
“If I was good enough, I’d love to play football for the mighty blues, Chelsea.”
Your best asset:
“My amateur pedigree, my grounding as a fighter.”
What inspires you:
“To become world champion.”
Your honey punch:
Best fighter you’ve sparred:
“Mikkel Kessler. I did a week with him, we sparred every day. Also Carl Froch.”
Best fight you’ve ever seen:
“Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales-One”
If the phone rang this afternoon with a big fight offer, who would the opponent be:
“Daniel Geale, in London.”
Toughest part of training:
“If you’re doing it right, it’s all tough!”
Other sports:Toughest opponent you have faced:
“Next question! (laughs). Sergio Martinez.”
“I love football and I support Chelsea.”
Favourite all-time fighter:
Favourite British fighter:
Follow Darren on Twitter:
Dazzling Darren Barker
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