Barker: I’m not bonkers – I want Sergio Martinez!
Dazzling Darren targets Argentine after European title
‘Dazzling’ Darren Barker knows people may call him “bonkers” for saying it, but believes he could be the man to stop WBC Emeritus and The Ring Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
Barker takes on Domenico Spada at London Olympia on April 30 live on Sky Sports in a fight for the EBU European Middleweight title he vacated in September, and should the Londoner extend his unbeaten professional stretch to 23 victories, he wants a shot at the Argentine ranked third in the pound-for-pound list.
Martinez’s camp recently included Barker in a quartet of possible opponents for the southpaw and Barker’s camp returned the favour, with his new promoter Eddie Hearn contacting them and expressing an interest in a fight in July. Barker accepted he would be the underdog in the fight, but the 28 year-old insisted that he could shock the world and defeat the 2010 Ring Magazine fighter of the year.
“I know some people might think I’m bonkers even saying his name in the same breath as mine, but I fancy I could cause a mad upset, I really do,” said Barker. “He’s a class act, a top, top level performer – but I’ve got a good knack with southpaws from my Repton days, and it’s got to end for him someday so why not to me?
“What’s the point in stalling? I’m 28 now, I’m in my prime, a year out is not going to hurt me – I train hard, I get good sparring and I’m always in good nick. I want to start where I left off and carry that journey onto fighting the big names.
“I’ve got the same mentality as David Haye – I don’t want to be fighting in my 40s, I don’t want to be like a Martinez – my prime is now, I want to jump on that and make the most of it.”
With a month to go until his showdown with Rome-native Spada, Barker said he was fully-focused on defeating the 30 year-old who has yet to be stopped in his 35-fight career – with 32 wins and three points losses. Spada is ranked number seven by the WBC, one place below Barker and the home favourite knows the Italian will provide a stiff test in Kensington. Barker is also seeking an improvement on his last performance when he claimed the European belt a year ago against Affif Belghecham on points.
“He’s a tough, experienced campaigner, he likes to come forward and he’s very aggressive so I’ll have to be on my guard,” said Barker. “Bottom line is though – I want my European title back. The last time out I was very disappointed and I know I’m miles better than that. For the first couple of rounds I showed what I am capable of and I almost had him out of there. It was common knowledge that I was injured and I had a hip operation right after, but I had nothing left in me in the fight and I hadn’t run for two years. Training and running has been fantastic for this one though, I feel like I did five years ago – I’m fresh, enthusiastic, and hungry – life is great at the minute and I know it’s going to get even better on April 30.”
Tickets for Darren Barker v Domenico Spada are available now from Matchroom Sport priced £35 unreserved, £60 ringside, £80 inner ringside and £120 VIP – to buy call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.