Darren Barker confident he will retire Felix Sturm and keep his world title
By Richard Damerell. Last Updated: 07/12/13 4:31pm
Darren Barker intends to signal the start of a new middleweight era by sending Felix Sturm into retirement.
Barker defends his IBF world title against the 34-year-old German in Stuttgart on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
Sturm is a former world champion himself, who sat near the summit of his weight class for over five years before his lengthy reign as WBA king was ended by Daniel Geale last year.
The Barnet man wants to dominate the division in similar fashion after beating Geale in August, but firstly must prove that Sturm's time at the top is over.
Defeat would be a crushing blow for Sturm's career and Barker believes the veteran will be forced to walk away from the sport this weekend.
"Why it's an important fight is, it's the old and the new," he told skysports.com.
"It is me putting an end to Felix Sturm's career, as harsh as that sounds, and letting my reign start. I'm looking forward to a long reign as world champion.
"He's one of the old guard if you like. He was the champion for about six years, a great fighter who I will never be naive enough to take lightly, but I'm extremely confident that it's my time.
"That's not me being nasty or anything like that, by saying he will call his career a day.
"He's been there, he's fought everyone, he's been champion for years. I think when I beat him, that will be enough. He's got enough money, he's achieved lots in the sport. It will be easy for him to hang up his gloves."
The lure of a huge payday convinced Barker to face Sturm in his home country, where he has already beaten Matthew Macklin on points and held Martin Murray to a draw.
"Felix Sturm is one of the old guard if you like. He was the champion for about six years, a great fighter who I will never be naive enough to take lightly, but I'm extremely confident that it's my time."
Barker admits fighters receive more respect for winning on hostile territory, but is thinking only of victory and not about bolstering his reputation.
"A win's a win at the end of the day, but you do get a lot of credit going abroad," he said.
"I mean I look at the appreciation, the credit that Carl Froch has got from defending and winning titles abroad, but at the end of the day the win's the most important thing. It doesn't say he won and it was in such and such."
Barker, who sparred with The Cobra ahead of his recent world-title defence against George Groves, has been filled with fresh self-belief after achieving his long-term goal of winning a world title.
The 31-year-old has been studying Sturm's strengths and weaknesses for a few months and is certain he can defend his title in convincing fashion.
"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.
"Tony Sims my trainer, he's watched loads and we're prepared. We've come up with a game plan, if executed properly on the night, it will be a shutout."