Barker loses title to Sturm
Darren Barker lost his IBF middleweight title to Felix Sturm after being stopped in the second round at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart on Saturday night.
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The 31-year-old Londoner was twice knocked to the canvas in round two, and moments later trainer Tony Sims threw in the towel to end his man's misery.
By that stage Barker had sustained a hip injury.
Sturm lost the WBA version of the middleweight title in a split-decision loss to Australian Daniel Geale in September 2012 but has a world championship to his name again.
Given that Barker beat Geale in August on a split decision in Atlantic City, there was cause for the Englishman and his travelling supporters to be optimistic ahead of the clash with Sturm, but that soon faded.
Sturm landed several early powerful shots to the head of Barker, with the 34-year-old having easily the better of the opening round.
While rattled Barker sought to be more positive at the start of round two, looking to push Sturm back against the ropes, the momentum was soon back with the local hero.
Sturm knocked Barker down midway through the round with a big right hand but he was quickly up. He went down again under a barrage from Sturm, and the fight looked as good as over.
Concerned by the punishment Barker was taking as he struggled physically, in came the towel from his corner to concede the belt.
"Hopefully he is well after he left in pain," Sturm told Sky Sports. "Hopefully he is fine and we can do a re-match next year.
"Always to start fast, that's the best strategy for me. If I start slowly that's not so good for me.
"Darren started a little bit differently to what I expected and had a very good, hard left hook. It was a little bit difficult in the first round.
"Now I'm world champion what can I say. I feel great. I feel at the moment at this age very comfortable. I train very smart and I believe I can box for another five or six years. I'm ready for everything."
It was later confirmed that Barker had dislocated his hip and was quickly taken to hospital in a worrying turn of events that could threaten his career, having had both hips operated on in the past.
Trainer Sims predicted Barker would have to retire because of his injury.
"It's a disaster really," Sims said on Sky Sports 1. "I don't really think you'll see him in a ring again now. He's had all these problems with his hips before, he's had them operated on and they're just not right.
"He's completely gone. They're going to take him to the hospital to do an X-ray on that and we'll see what's happening from there.
"It's really disappointing. We had a game plan and he'd done loads of sparring. You don't imagine this is going to happen in a fight, especially in the first round.
"It's happened and there's nothing you can do about it."