In putting an end to fourteen months of frustration, former European and Commonwealth middleweight king “Dazzling” Darren Barker lived up to his nickname last night in London.

In fact, the swift manner in which he dealt with Welshman Kerry Hope suggested 30-year-old Barker is better than ever

A fast, accurate and powerful right hand got the job done for Barker, now 24-1(15) and seconds after 31-year-old Hope had been floored in the 4th, his corner threw in the towel. Southpaw Hope is now 18-5(1) and it will perhaps be a hard road back for him. As for Barker, who has been beaten only by the superb Sergio Martinez, a second shot at a world title could be on the cards for 2013

Now injur free and as hungry as ever, Barker would have a great chance against the likes of Peter Quillin (WBO champ) Daniel Geale (IBF); while all-British showdowns with Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray (who of course goes win with Martinez next April) would be the kind of fights Barker says “the British public deserve.

Crediting his trainer Tony Sims with doing a great job in getting him ready for his first fight since October of 2011 (the 11th-round stoppage loss to Martinez), Barker also praised the other members of his team. Having stuck by their fighter through all the injury woes, Barker’s team believe he can certainly grab a world belt next year. A talent-rich division at present, the middleweight division has a number of attractive options for the Barnet man.

Barker says he is a late developer and at the peak of his physical strength now. Last night’s statement-making return did nothing to disprove that notion. Some good judges expected Hope, also a former European champion, to push Barker hard. Instead, as Barker predicted to BritishBoxers.co.uk, he was on a totally different level Promoter Eddie Hearn said Barker will be back out in March.