Barker set for brush with destiny
Darren Barker has endured his fair share of frustrations in and out of the ring in recent years, but the Briton believes it is his destiny to win a world crown ahead of his IBF middleweight title fight with Daniel Geale on August 17.
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Barker's bid to prove himself in the 160lb division has been disrupted several times through injury, while he suffered a painful 11th-round knockout against pound-for-pound kingpin Sergio Martinez in October 2011 in Atlantic City.
That is the only blemish in a 26-fight professional career that began in Nottinghamshire in 2004 for Barker, who also endured heartache outside the ring when his younger brother Gary died in a tragic roadside accident in 2006, aged just 19.
The Londoner bounced back from his setback against Martinez with successive fourth-round stoppages against Kerry Hope and Simone Rotolo.
Those victories were almost foregone conclusions, but now the 31-year-old will face a serious step up in class when he returns to Atlantic City to face world champion Geale next Saturday.
While Barker has been quick to admit as much, Geale is no pushover, having lost just once in 30 contests.
That defeat came against fellow Australian Anthony Mundine four years ago, one which Geale avenged in his last outing in January this year.
Barker, however, is undaunted by the challenge.
"I truly believe I'm better than him. Whilst I would never underestimate him, I truly believe it's my time and my destiny," he said.
"Our paths have mirrored the other; we both boxed in the 2002 Commonwealth Games, he won gold at welterweight, I won at light welterweight, and we boxed in the World Championships in 2003 in the same weight but on opposite sides of the draw.
"I've kept an eye on his pro career and I'm very confident. I know what he's all about, I know what I'm all about and I know how to beat him so I can't wait for August 17. This is what it's all about - reaching the pinnacle of your sport should be everyone's goal and I'm close to it now."
While he is full of confidence ahead of his showdown with Geale, 32, Atlantic City is not a happy hunting ground for Barker.
Not only did the Barnet man suffer his own world title heartache in New Jersey, he also acted as chief cornerman for Lee Purdy's IBF welterweight title loss to Devon Alexander earlier this year.
Once again, Barker is taking the positives.
"I've had two failed attempts in Atlantic City really, so it feels like third time lucky," he said.
"He's an Aussie, I'm a Brit, so it's neutral ground but territory that I'm familiar with having boxed there and been in Lee's corner so I feel I have a slight advantage in that respect.
"I've heard people say in the past that you can learn from defeat, but I always thought that was mad - how can anything good come from losing?
"It's not until you experience something invaluable like a defeat in a world title fight to a world-class pound-for-pound star like Sergio Martinez that you appreciate the sentiment and I really have taken that negative - losing in a world title fight - and built on it to go one better.
"I feel I've matured from it and I'm in my prime now."