Darren Barker returns to action on September 8 live on Sky Sports and says he will prove he belongs at World level when he faces Simone Rotolo.
The Londoner co-headlines Sky’s season opener at the Alexandra Palace in north London in his first fight since pushing Sergio Martinez all the way in his World middleweight title challenge in Atlantic City on October 1.
Barker won rave reviews for his brave performance against the pound-for-pound star and was well in the fight before being stopped in the 11th, and the 30 year old said that he proved to himself that night that he could compete at the highest level.
“I’m my own worst enemy and critic at times,” said Barker. “I really needed to prove to myself that I am world class for me to continue. If I had got whitewashed or completely annihilated against Martinez then 100 per cent I would’ve jacked it in because I’m only in this sport to get to the heights and win a World title. In that fight I proved that I’m World class. It was unfortunate, I perforated my eardrum and I just couldn’t continue anymore.
“It was fantastic being part of a massive occasion like that, a big fight. I’ve watched so many being a boxing fan and it was lovely taking part in one of them, headlining in Atlantic City.”
Barker is back in action just a stones’ throw from his Barnet home and the former two-time European champion says he is looking forward to boxing in front of his loyal followers on September 8.
“My supporters are always so vocal, you talk about in football, the crowd being the twelfth man and it’s almost like that in boxing,” said Barker. “When rounds are getting tough and your supporters rally you on and they get you through the fight so they’ll be a slight advantage there but he’s no mug, he knows his way around the ring so I don’t think it’ll faze him that much but he’ll definitely hear the faithful.”
Rotolo won the Italian middleweight title in his last outing with a final round stoppage of Matteo Signani in March, and Barker is aware that the 36 year old can cause him problems on the night.
“I’ve watched a fair bit of him, he’s quite elusive, he likes to move around on the back foot and he’s quite difficult to pin down,” said Barker. “He’s had 37 fights and only lost three, so he’s experienced, he’s had that many contests so he’ll be in there, he’ll be durable. It’ll be a case of closing down the distance and ultimately trying to put on a good show to prove to everyone that I belong on the world stage.”
Barker and Rotolo meet on a huge night of boxing in the capital, with top billing shared with Tony Bellew’s mouth-watering clash with the hard hitting Edison Miranda. Exciting light middleweight star Erick Ochieng defending his English title for the second time against Southern Area champ Ryan Toms, hotly tipped Islington middleweight John Ryder will also be in title action while popular unbeaten Chris ‘The Flash’ Evangelou fights for the first title of his career when he tackles Danny Connor for the vacant Southern Area light welterweight title.
There are debuts for Team GB stars Iain Weaver and Martin Ward who hope to follow the example set by Kal Yafai when he stopped Delroy Spencer on his debut in July. Yafai fights for the second time as a pro, as does cruiserweight prospect Wadi Camacho and Ryan ‘Crash Bang’ Taylor completes the line-up in his seventh pro outing.
Tickets for the bumper night of championship boxing led by Barker and Bellew are available now priced £40 unreserved, £60 ringside and £120 VIP from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900 and www.matchroomboxing.com
Video from Matchroom Sports