30th April 2011

After a year out of the ring Darren Barker takes on Domenico Spada for the vacant European Middleweight title tonight at London’s Olympia where he looks to get his promising career back on track and claim back his old belt.

Barker 28, last fought against Affif Belghecham at Alexandra Palace on April 9 2010 winning the same title that he fights for against Italian tough man Spada.
The Barnet man (left) had to give up the title after winning it, when a combination of an hip injury and being set about by a bunch of thugs, forced him to withdraw from a defence against Matthew Macklin in September and vacate the belt, that Macklin later went on to win and later relinquish himself.

An operation sorted out the troublesome hip joint and after getting over the physical and mental scars of his street attack, he is now fully fit to face Spada, where a win would see him reclaim the European strap, extend his unbeaten run to 23 fights and propel him into World title contention and a possibly an eventual meeting with domestic rival Macklin.

Credit to Barker for stepping right back into the fold without a warm up fight, much is the mans belief and confidence in himself. But will that be a mistake given Spada’s pedigree and the Englishman’s inactivity? Not according to Barker.

“What’s the point in having an eight-rounder?” he said. “I really want to get my career moving when I’ve had a year out, I want to get straight back in there.

“This guy’s tough, he knows his way round the ring, he throws a lot of punches, he wants to work and as I say, he’s experienced, he knows how to fight.

“With all due respect, to (Affif) Belghecham (who he beat to take the title in April 2009), I won the European title but he wasn’t really classed as a top opponent, but this guy will make me really feel like the European champion once I’ve beaten him.” said Barker who’s fight will be shown live on SkySports 1 from 8pm.

Barker Previews Spada Fight on Ringside

“I’m really excited to be back – it’s been a long, frustrating year for me – This is my breakthrough year now – Spada 30, is a very experienced opponent and it shows what direction I want to be heading in and where I want to be, I’m chasing this World title shot and he’s who I need to fight.

“I’ve seen a lot of him now, he’s a come forward opponent who is aggressive and knows his way around the ring so he’ll definitely give me a few rounds to brush off any cobwebs that I’ve got.”

“You either get on with things or sit in the corner, lock yourself away and whinge,” said Barker. “I had to have surgery – it’s been done and my body is better than it’s ever been so I’m looking forward to getting in there and showing the boxing public what I can do.

“The most important thing is to win – I’m not one to make predictions. I’ll stick to my boxing, go out there and do what I do best because this fight can catapult me into the world scene.” added Barker who this week launched his new website www.darrenbarker.co.uk

Domenico Spada
Spada (35-3, 16KO’s) has never been stopped in his career and will be a compromising task for Barker to overcome, especially after his time out and potential ring rust. But Barker is confident and if he can reclaim the form that we now he has a close points win is what we predict to get his career going again and hopefully the Macklin fight can be revived.

Macklin will face Felix Sturm in June for the WBA Super World Middleweight title and a win for the Brummie would bring the highly anticipated fight with Barker a step closer.

“He’s just swerved me basically – I want to fight him and prove that I’m the best, it’s just a shame that deep down he knows that I’ll beat him,” said Barker. “Everyone wants to watch us fight and in that respect I am annoyed at him for not taking me on. Why not boost the profile of the sport here by setting up these big British fights?

“I can only imagine it’s because he knows I am going to beat him, because I would beat him and I’ve got his number all day long, I’m the best in Europe, the best in Britain.”

“It was generating interest from the general public, even from people who knew nothing about boxing, but they were asking me about fighting Macklin and there was a buzz. If you look at his last performances they are poor and to see him ranked so highly gets to me, it really does.”

The unbeaten Barker though insists that his ambition to fight Macklin is nothing personal, but is simply borne out of annoyance that this British box-office clash has still to come to fruit.

“There’s no hatred there, but it’s frustration from me – from the bottom of my heart there’s no way Matthew Macklin can beat me and it’s annoying because I want to prove it to everyone – all the Macklin fans out there and the Barker haters for whatever reason, I want to show that I’m the number one and I’m not content with number two.”
12 x 3 mins Vacant European Middleweight Championship
Darren Barker (11st 5lb 15oz) v Domenico Spada (11st 5lb 1oz)
Undercard fights at London’s Olympia

8 x 3 mins Flyweight Contest
Ashley Sexton (8st 5lb 7oz) v Mike Robinson (8st 5lb 2oz)

6 x 3 mins Middleweight Contest
Patrick Mendy (11st 5lb 15oz) v Paul Samuels (11st 5lb 15oz)

4 x 3 mins Light-Welterweight Contest
Chris Evangelou (10st 2lb 5oz) v Ibrar Riyaz (10st)

6 x 3 mins Light-Welterweight Contest
Tyler Goodjohn v Mark McKray

6 x 3 mins Middleweight Contest
John Ryder v Lee Noble

6 x 3 mins Light-Welterweight Contest
Phil Gill v Scott Evans

4 x 3 mins Light-Heavyweight Contest
Andreas Evangelou v Jamie Norkett

Tickets for Darren Barker v Domenico Spada on Saturday April 30 are available now from Matchroom Sport priced £35 unreserved, £60 ringside, £80 inner ringside and £120 VIP – to buy call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900. www.matchroomsport.com
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