Boxing

Darren Barker to Fight Felix Sturm on Enemy Territory in December

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21:  Boxer Darren Barker the IBF Middleweight Champion is paraded to the fans at half time during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on August 21, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Ben BlackmoreFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2013

Darren Barker, the reigning IBF middleweight champion, will make the first defence of his crown against the difficult figure of Felix Sturm in Germany later this year.

The world-title bout will take place on Dec. 7, in Stuttgart, handing the challenger home advantage in what promises to be a thrilling war.

Promoter Eddie Hearn announced the news, per Sky Sports:

We have been in discussions with Felix Sturm's team since the Daniel Geale fight, and with purse bids approaching they made their intentions quite clear.

Felix is the fight we want both financially and from a legacy perspective and once we were able to introduce our necessary demands, which included a potential second fight in the UK and neutral officials, then this was an opportunity Darren could not turn down.

The prospect of entering foreign territory will hold few concerns for Barker, who came away from the U.S. with a memorable split-decision win over Australian Daniel Geale in August.

That night, Barker showed great heart to pick himself off the canvas and hold on for the biggest victory of his career, but he may need to go through it all again against Sturm.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - AUGUST 17: Darren Barker of England is called for a standing eight count after being knock down in the sixth round by Daniel Geale from Australia during their IBF Middleweight Championship fight on August 17, 2013 at Revel Hotel Casino
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The German is a former world champion at middleweight and has lost only one of his most recent 13 bouts, after Sam Soliman’s win was changed to a no-contest due to a failed drug test.

He also has the experience of sharing a ring with some of the sport's biggest names, not least Oscar de la Hoya, who beat him in 2004.

Sturm did, however, lose his belt to Geale a year ago in a split decision, but the 34-year-old has yet to lose to a British opponent.

Matthew Macklin was outpointed, while Martin Murray was held to a draw, so Barker knows he is in for a long night come Dec. 7.

However, a clause has been negotiated for a potential rematch in the event of a Barker loss. That sequel would take place in London.

Barker also has the confidence of a man who is currently in the prime of his career, having bounced back from his only loss to Sergio Martinez.

The fact he has agreed to fight Sturm on his opponent's terms shows Barker wants to walk like a true champion, accepting the most difficult bouts to build his legacy.

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