Darren Barker defends his IBF middleweight title for the first time against former world champion Felix Sturm in Stuttgart, Germany on Saturday.
Barker last fought in August when he claimed the IBF title by defeating Australian David Geale via split decision. Sturm failed to do the same in 2012 when Geale beat him by split decision.
Sturm faces a British boxer in a world title fight for the third time in his career. He controversially defeated British-Irish boxer Matthew Macklin and eked out a disputable draw when he faced Martin Murray. For the first time, however, he goes into a title bout with a Brit as the challenger, and Barker will have to make sure to leave no doubt to retain his title.
Both boxers successfully made weight during Friday's weigh-in. The champion tipped the scales at 158.9 pounds, while the challenger weighed in at the slightly heavier 159.3 pounds.
As always, the visiting British fans were in good voice at the weigh-ins, which is an indication of the atmosphere we can expect on when they enter the ring.
The programme on Sky is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. GMT and 4 p.m. EST on Saturday. The fight, however, is not expected to start until 10:15 p.m. GMT.
How to watch
The bout will be broadcast on Sky Sports 1 in the U.K., with only the main event being shown from Germany.
German fans can see if Sturm can become a four-time world champion on channel Sat1. The programme will not start until 10:55 p.m. local time.
The end of Sturm’s title reign saw the German on questionable ground before he finally lost the belt to Geale. Many fans believe he lost both the Macklin and Murray bouts, and his recent performances indicate the German is coming to the closing stages of his career.
Sturm is 34 years old, so a loss against Barker would probably see the end of his days as a top middleweight contender.
Barker lost his first-ever shot at a world title in 2011 when Sergio Martinez defeated him via an 11th round TKO in Atlantic City. The current IBF champion gave a gallant performance in what was supposed to be a huge mismatch.
In the same city, he challenged Geale for his IBF title, and despite being knocked down in the sixth round, he recovered to win the decision.
If we use completely unscientific boxing math, then the man who defeated Geale should beat the man whom Geale conquered. Sports do not work that way, obviously, but it is likely both men are in for a 12-round war of wills where small details will make a big difference.
Who will win?
Barker shocked Geale when he started so strongly before the sixth-round knockdown. The champion will have a lot of momentum going into this bout, and both his unsuccessful and successful world title fights have given him valuable experience. Power was an issue against Geale, but his pressure and ability to land so cleanly made up for that and will be huge assets toward the end of the bout.
If this title clash goes to a decision, the worry over a contentious result is mitigated because Matchroom has enlisted the services of three neutral judges. If there is any controversy, there will be a mandatory rematch in England.
|Felix Sturm||Name||"Dazzling" Darren Barker|
|Leverkusen, Germany||Hometown||Barnet, England|
|159.3 pounds||Weight||158.9 pounds|