Dazzling's destiny

Barker ready to rock Martinez and make a name for himself

Last Updated: 23/09/11 11:38am

Barker: southpaws no problem!

Dazzling Darren Barker is convinced he will gatecrash boxing's big time by upsetting one of the best pound-for-pounders in the world.

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"Me fighting Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City shows I've been doing everything right in my career. I owe it to myself to go out there now and show the world what I can do. Me fighting top of the bill in the States feels like my time."

Darren Barker

Quotes of the week

The classy middleweight travels to Atlantic City to take on Sergio Martinez, the WBC's Diamond champion and the man most people place just behind Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the world's elite.

Barker will go into the fight as a huge underdog, but believes he has everything he needs to pull off a shock and register what would be one of the best wins by a British boxer on American soil.

He has endured some turbulent times out of the ring, not least the death of his brother Gary and a brutal beating on the streets of Watford when he was playing the Good Samaritan, that left him with career-threatening injuries.

It has meant long periods of inactivity for the 29-year-old and the Martinez bout will be just the 24th of his professional career - but it is also the chance to fulfil a dream that has always driven him on through those dark times.

"I suppose it's always been a dream I've had," he told Ringside. "I knew it was part of my plan to become a world champion.

"I believe I'm ready, that's the most important thing. Me and my trainer Tony Sims believe we're ready.

"I wouldn't jeopardise everything I've done for 17 years, all the time I've put into boxing, I wouldn't throw it away to take a payday or go into a big fight just for the occasion. I wouldn't do it.

"What I've achieved here, British, Commonwealth, European champion, that means something here. But out there (in the US), no-one really has a clue. But it's a big deal here and I'm going to prove the underdog can cause an upset."

But Barker knows the odds are stacked against him. Few would take on a fighter with just two defeats in 51, few would travel to do it and few of his peers were queuing up for a crack at a man who produced one of the knockouts of 2010 to spark the talented Paul Williams.

Execute

On top of it all, Martinez is a lefty. Yet, that is the one thing that gives Barker encouragement above all else.

"I've always had a knack of fighting southpaws," he said. "When I was an amateur down at Wrexham there must've been something in the water because there were southpaws left, right and centre.

"They were winning titles, fighting for England, winning National Championships and I was sparring them every day.

"I just developed a knack for being in with them; that's another reason why I really wanted to fight Martinez.

"I haven't stopped watching him, his strengths and weaknesses, his opponents and what they've done well. And we'll come up with a plan which we believe will beat Martinez and one I believe I can execute on the night."

Another reason to be cheerful is Barker's outstanding amateur pedigree that saw him crowned a Multi-Nations and Commonwealth champion.

In comparison, Martinez only came to the sport at the age of 20 - he's 36 now - and although he has shot up the pound-for-pound rankings, this will be only his fourth fight as a bonafide alphabet champion.

Barker is the first to admit the Argentine is where he is for a reason, but still remains undaunted. And although the famous old Boardwalk is not The Strip in Las Vegas, he can still see it being his name up in lights come the morning of October 2nd.

"I wouldn't say he's invincible, but he's in this position for a reason," he said.

"He's churned out some good wins, he's moved up and down the weights, but it would be nice to see my name at number three after the fight: Pacquiao, Mayweather, then Darren Barker! That will be the case.

"Me fighting Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City shows I've been doing everything right in my career. I owe it to myself to go out there now and show the world what I can do. Me fighting top of the bill in the States feels like my time."

Questions

Less than a year ago his time was supposed to be against fellow British middleweight Matthew Macklin, only for a hip problem to scupper their eagerly-anticipated showdown.

Macklin was in the Ringside studio to rate his rival's chances and admits it is not totally beyond him.

The Brummie has also put his name forward to take on Martinez if he retains his title, but Barker laughed off the chance of that happening. Instead, he is looking forward to settling a domestic score with a world title on the line.

"If he's looking at the winner of the fight, he's going to be fighting me!" he said. "There's no chance he's going to be fighting Martinez.

"I'm going to win that fight, then I'm going to take Macklin out as well, because I definitely want Macklin's name on my record.

"I want to prove to any Macklin fans out there that I can beat him. I want to prove to anyone who questions if I can beat him or not, that I'm the better fighter out of the two of us.

"He wants to get in his head that he won't be fighting Martinez... unless it's a warm-up for me."