Darren Barker stops Kerry Hope in the fourth to make a winning return to the ring

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Darren Barker marked his return from 14 month injury lay-off by stopping Kerry Hope in the fourth-round and claiming the IBF intercontinental belt at London Olympia.

The Barnet-born boxer was competing for the first time since he lost his world title bout against Sergio Martinez in October 2011.

Understandably, the 30-year-old looked a little ring rusty in the opening stages and Hope attempted to capitalise.

However, after the first two rounds, Barker took control of the contest in the third and unleashed several well timed shots which forced Hope back onto the ropes on two occasions.

After softening up Hope, Barker knocked his opponent down in the fourth after a superb right hook connected.

Hope, a former European champion, managed to beat the count but his corner sensibly decided to throw in the towel.

It was Barker’s 24th professional victory and after the bout he told Sky Sports: "It is good to be back. We'd been working on the right hand and obviously with him being a southpaw the right hand down the middle is always a winner.

"I was loading up a little bit too much, got a bit frustrated in the first round due to ring rust, but once I got my eye in I knew the opportunities would come and I found the opening.

"Tony Sims got me in great shape again. I'm a late maturer and I think I'm finally finding my 'man-strength' and I it showed there."

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