Martin Murray backs Darren Barker to retain world title against Felix Sturm

Last Updated: 06/12/13 12:50pm

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Martin Murray has backed Darren Barker to defend his world title against Felix Sturm in Germany.

Barker will make the first defence of his IBF middleweight belt against Sturm in Stuttgart this Saturday, live on Sky Sports.

Murray is one of Barker's British rivals, but the St Helens man still has a lingering dislike of Sturm after he was held to draw by the German in 2011.

During his long reign as WBA champion, Sturm also claimed a contentious points win over Matthew Macklin and Murray admits Barker will have to dig deep to retain the belt he won on points against Daniel Geale in August.

He told the Ringside Toe 2 Toe podcast: "I think it's a tough fight for Barker to be honest with you. Look me and Macklin have been over, we have shown everybody how tough it is to get a decision in Germany.

"To be honest I don't like Felix Sturm, he showed me no respect whatsoever in the build-up to the fight."
Martin Murray

"To be honest I don't like Felix Sturm, he showed me no respect whatsoever in the build-up to the fight.

"After, he didn't even entertain a rematch with me. He just gave me a wide berth so the fact I've got that type of history with him, and obviously Barker's British and I want him to do well, I want Barker to win.

Looking after yourself

"I've said this before when he beat Daniel Geale, I didn't want him to win just because it sets up potentially big domestic fights with myself and the others which is great. No he deserves it, he's got a family. It's all about looking after yourself, looking after your family, making sure they're right and I really do want him to go over there and beat Sturm."

Sturm is nearing the end of his career at the age of 34 and Murray believes he showed clear signs of decline during a defeat to Sam Soliman, which was later changed to a no-contest after the Australian failed a drug test.

Barker came on strong in the latter stages of his fight with Geale and Murray is confident that he can outwork the veteran this weekend.

"I'm going to pick Barker. I think Sturm is fading dramatically," he said.

"If you watch the Soliman fight, he was shocking in the second half of the fight. His fight after that, which he stopped in four rounds, I think he was completely out of his depth the lad, completely out of his depth.

"This is Sturm's last chance. He knows that, he needs this belt, so he's going to be in the condition of his life and he's going to be ready for it, but I just think if Barker can just stick to the game plan and take him into the second half of the fight. I think Barker takes over there."

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