British fighter forced to overcome mid-fight knockdown to win on points.
Britain’s Darren Barker overcame a middle round knockdown to defeat Australian Daniel Geale with a split decision to win the International Boxing Federation middleweight title Saturday.
The 31-year-old Barker battled hard in the early going but was knocked down by a right hand in the sixth round before holding on in the 12th to claim the title.
The Englishman, who almost retired from boxing in 2006 following the death of his brother, improved to 26-1 with 16 knockouts as he won on two of the judges’ scorecards, 116-111 and 114-113. One judge scored the fight 114-113 in favor of Geale, who lost for just the second time in his pro career.
“This is so difficult, not many people know the journey I have been through,” Barker said. “It has been a real ‘Rocky’ story.”
Indeed, Barker almost hung up his gloves when his younger sibling was killed in a car accident aged 19 in December 2006. After the death of his brother, Barker did not fight for a year.
But keeping alive Gary’s memory has been one of the Londoner’s main sources of motivation after he decided to resume his boxing career.
He said he was going to dedicate this victory to Gary.
“We did everything together,” Barker said earlier this week.
The former European champ and Commonwealth Games gold medalist also did not have trainer Tony Sims in his corner Saturday night at the Revel Casino Hotel due to a visa problem.
“I take my hat off to Daniel Geale,” said Barker. “He’s a great champion and just a tough, tough man.”
The loss snapped Geale’s win streak at eight consecutive fights. Geale, of Launceston, Tasmania, drops to a 29-2, 15 KOs overall.
“I am not going to wince, cry and carry on,” Geale said. “It didn’t go my way tonight. I am very, very disappointed.”
Boxing fans at the Revel Casino facility were treated to a thrilling bout that went down to the wire.
Barker went to work quickly from the opening bell as he mixed up his punches nicely in the first round, even landing some heavy body shots. Geale threw lots of punches early but Barker landed the cleaner, more damaging blows.
The fight turned into the war in the middle rounds. At one point in the sixth, Geale knocked Barker down with a right to the head. Barker didn’t stay on the canvas long though. Despite following the knockdown up with barrage of punches on the ropes Geale couldn’t finish Barker off.
Geale fought valiantly to the end and had enough left in the tank to deliver some power punches in the final round but by then he needed a knockout in the 12th to win the fight.
“I thought I caught a lot on the gloves,” Geale said. “A lot were glancing, missing. I did feel in control.”
Barker is obviously a good learner, especially if you take into account the last time he fought in Atlantic City for the World Boxing Council crown against Sergio Martinez in 2011.
That time Barker got off to a strong start in the early rounds but Martinez stepped it up in the middle rounds and finished Barker off with a knockout in the 11th.
On the undercard, Spain’s Kiko Martinez handed previously unbeaten Jonathan Romero his first defeat, stopping the Colombian in the sixth round to win the IBF featherweight title.
Former European champ Martinez improved to 29-4 with 21 KOs, while Romero has 23 wins and one loss.