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Late brother Gary helped Darren Barker off the canvas and to IBF middleweight world title
Barnet boxer Darren Barker says his late brother Gary - who died in a car accident in 2006 - helped him climb off the canvas to lift the world title.
Barker was knocked to the floor by Daniel Geale in the sixth round of their IBF middleweight title fight in Atlantic City on Saturday.
The Barnet man admitted he "was in bits" after the shot to the solar plexus and said he it was his brother Gary and daughter Scarlett Rose who helped him back to his feet and eventually to a split decision win.
He said: "I was in absolute bits. I was gone. But as the seconds went on my brother and daughter got into my head.
"I showed I've got heart and a lot of people didn't think I did."
Barker's brother Gary was a rising star in boxing himself; he won the Junior Olympics and was one of Britain's major hopes for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
But the 19-year-old died in a car accident on the M1 near Luton in December 2006 and this led to his older brother quitting the sport for a while.
When Barker did return, he was hampered by injuries and that was the case in the build-up to his first world title shot against Sergio Martinez in 2011.
"Not many people know the journey I've been through," Barker said in comments broadcast on Sky Sports. "It has been a real Rocky story.
"I dedicate this to my late brother. Everything I've done is for him. Gary, this is for you, mate."
The judges’ scorecards showed how close the fight was, 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.
"I just wanted it so much and that's what got me through the tough times," Barker added.
"When I stuck to my boxing and kept it simple, I was winning the rounds comfortably but it was just the occasion and wanting it so much that I was loading up with big shots. But there was no stopping me because I wanted it so badly and when I was on the floor, even though I couldn't breathe, there was no way I was staying down.
"He was a lot more awkward than I thought he was going to be; he was good at getting in and out of range with his footwork. I was taking a lot of shots on the gloves with my guard up and it might have looked like I was getting hit then but I wasn't, I was almost having a little breather in there. But the body shot completely took the wind out of me, I was gone.
"I was confident that I'd done enough and it was out of my hands, I had done my job for 12 rounds then it was up to Michael Buffer to read out the scores and find out my fate. I thought I won the fight and without the knock-down, I think it would've been a unanimous decision - and he got my name right too. He (Buffer) apologised about that beforehand (when Barker fought Sergio Martinez) which was nice of him too, so it was a great night."
Picture: Action Images
Barker was reluctant to discuss future opponents immediately after the fight.
A rematch with Geale and a bout with former champion Felix Sturm are possibilities but British boxing fans are hoping Barker's win will lead to domestic tear ups.
The middleweight division is thriving; with St Helens' Martin Murray and Birmingham-born, Irish fighter Matthew Macklin also going close to winning world titles in the last couple of years.
It is hoped the world-class trio, plus the likes of Irishman Andy Lee and rising starts Billy Joe Saunders and John Ryder, can create a new era like the late 1980s and 1990s, when Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Michael Watson and Steve Collins created a new generation of fans with their memorable battles.
Murray was one of the pundits in the Sky studios at the weekend and he was one of hundreds of people who sent Barker good luck messages.
"Martin Murray is a good bloke and me winning this belt could well set up big fights like the one with him," said Barker. "He's a great champion and like this fight with Geale, the boxing would do the talking, there'd be no bad blood just two honest boxers battling it out.
"For one person to say that they never wanted a Brit to win a world title as much as they wanted it for me is amazing, let alone the hundreds and hundreds of messages saying that is humbling and I'm so grateful to the fans back home who stayed up and watched it."
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