Barker makes case for defence
Our Simon Crawford believes Darren Barker will successfully defend his IBF middleweight world title tonight.
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Arguably boxing's most poignant moment in 2013 was the sight of Briton Darren Barker sinking to his knees in tears after winning the IBF middleweight world title against Daniel Geale back in August in Atlantic City.
Things looked bleak for the Barnet fighter when he was floored by a body shot in the sixth by the Australian champion, but the next time he hit the canvas was in a fit of emotion after it was announced he had won the belt by a split decision.
It was the culmination of years of hard work by the 31-year-old, but also an emotional tribute to his younger brother Gary who was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of just 19.
"Not many people know the journey I've been through," said Chelsea fan Barker in his post-fight interview.
"I dedicate this to my late brother. Everything I've done is for him. Gary, this is for you, mate."
Barker (26-1 16KOs) now makes the first defence of his title against former world champion Felix Sturm (38-3-2 17KOs) in Stuttgart, Germany on Saturday night.
It's a tough test against a seasoned pro who will have the advantage of a partisan home crowd behind him.
Sturm, 34, has used "home comforts" to his advantage in the past with
two British challengers, Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin, widely considered to have been robbed by points decisions in Germany.
So it's going to have to be a conclusive display by Barker to eliminate any fear of being wronged by the scorecards - should the fight go the distance.
My gut instinct is that the full 12 rounds will be needed to separate them, but I believe Barker will outwork his German foe and can win the fight by a wide margin.
He can also take confidence from the fact that Sturm lost his world strap to Geale back in September 2012, where he got the benefit of a split decision so it can be done.
It's fair to say that Sturm's best days are now behind him and his recent results have been mixed with a win over Predrag Radosevic in July and before that a points loss to Sam Soliman which was overturned after Soliman reportedly failed a drug test.
Stamina is going to be an issue for the German and the fact he has never been a big puncher would seem to add to Barker's cause if the fight does go in the latter stages.
The Londoner's preparations have been solid and have included sparring with double super-middleweight world champion Carl Froch.
Barker does not do any road work in training due to hip injuries so instead gets fighting fit on the trampoline, in the swimming pool and by doing yoga.
But it's certainly a regime that works for him and I certainly see him holding on to his belt and, most importantly, so does Barker.
"Aside from my skill and my boxing ability, I think the belief of winning a world title, believing I can do it and actually achieving it. I take massive confidence from that into this fight," he said.
"I've watched a lot of Felix Sturm in the build-up to the Geale fight. I watched a lot of that fight, so I've been watching him for a while."
Barker is an odds on favourite with BetVictor's 20/21 the best in the market, while Sturm is a general best of 6/5.
I see this fight being won by Barker on points and will take the 13/8 being offered by BetVictor and Youwin on a decision or technical decision.