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Barnet have a world champion to be proud of in Darren Barker after victory over Daniel Geale
Barnet have a boxing world champion in Darren Barker after he won the IBF Middleweight title in Atlantic City in the early hours of this morning.
Barker said in the build-up to the fight he wanted to win the belt for his brother Gary, who died in car crash in 2006, and the Barnet fighter dedicated his victory to the late 19-year-old.
After a close fight with Australian Daniel Geale, iconic announcer Michael Buffer revealed Barker had won on a split decision and the 31-year-old broke down and slumped to the canvas.
Once back on his feet, Barker looked to the sky in dedication to his late brother and best friend Gary.
This morning was the culmination of, in Barker’s words, “a real Rocky story” after the fighter gave up the sport as he struggled to cope with the death of his brother and then battled with injuries when he finally returned to the ring.
Friends, family, his trainer Tony Sims – they were all in tears after the popular fighter was named the new champion of the world.
Geale was the favourite heading into the fight despite the large majority accepting Barker is the better technical boxer.
It was expected that the Barnet man would try to outbox the durable Geale and get rounds in the bank as the Australian is renowned for finishing strong, whereas Barker has faded in the later rounds previously due to his injury problems.
But Barker had the perfect training camp and he shocked most as he stood and traded blows with Geale.
Very little separated the fighters in many of the rounds and that started with the first, when Barker landed the best shot with a solid jab.
Geale landed two very good uppercuts in the second but Barker finished the round strongly.
The Barnet man missed with several wild shots early in the next round but then he took control and hit his opponent with a solid right hand.
Geale was much better at the start of the fourth and struck Barker with a few early shots but the Englishman responded and landed a cracking uppercut before being put to the canvas with a low blow.
It was a similar story in the fifth as Geale started well and then Barker took control but the sixth round could have been a defining one had it not been for the Barnet man’s character.
Barker started strong with a nice flurry but Geale responded with a straight right and two minutes in, Barker was knocked down with a punishing body punch. As the referee counted to nine seconds, the Barnet fighter said he saw the image of his brother Gary and daughter Scarlett Rose’s faces and that gave him the strength to continue. He failed to throw a shot for a while after getting back to his feet but then he showed his outstanding resilience by responding strongly.
Neither man landed a clear punch in the seventh as Barker’s aggression gave him another round.
The men traded shots at the start of the eighth, with Geale coming off the better. Barker looked laboured before a good flurry but it was the Australian’s round.
The ninth was a close round but the tenth was all Barker as he landed a great overhand right and then had an excellent spell which included a couple of big right hands.
The 11th was another dominant round for Barker and he now looked almost certain to become the champions, if he could survive the final three minutes.
It was not comfortable for Barker though and he was caught with several big shots. He was really struggling at times but then he showed that resilience and bravery to hold on for a deserved victory.
The judges’ scorecards showed how tough it was to decide many of the rounds, as Alan Rubenstein scored it 114-113 for Geale and Barbara Perez had it 116-111 in Barker’s favour, with Carlos Ortiz 114-113 to Barker – which is how I scored it.
It was an emotional moment when Barker broke down in tears and was swiftly followed by his trainer Tony Sims, promoter Eddie Hearn and most of his family and friends.
Barnet not only have a world champion but they have one they can be proud of. Barker’s story is one of tragedy and heartbreak to triumph and the top of the world. Barker is an inspiration to the youngsters of Barnet.
You can see pictures from Barker's title victory here.
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