Darren Barker lost his IBF middleweight title in his first defence after Felix Sturm gave a powerful and dominant performance in front of his home crowd in Stuttgart, Germany.
Sturm dropped Barker twice in the second round before the referee called off the fight 52 seconds before the bell.
Barker appeared discomforted by a hip problem. Some early reports—as reported during Sky Sports' live broadcast—suggested that he had dislocated it during the fight, but it should take nothing away from Sturm's performance.
The contest began at a scintillating pace. Sturm was aggressive from the start, setting the tone with two big left hooks straight away.
Barker, for his part, was seemingly happy to take risks. He allowed himself to be hit as he launched his own attacks, but the second round proved his strategy to be the wrong one.
He had gotten off the canvas to beat Daniel Geale for the title in his previous fight, and he found himself in similar trouble in this one. He was under a barrage of right hands in the second round.
This time, there was no comeback. Sturm, a powerful finisher, went on the offensive and put Barker down a second time.
It looked for a moment as if Barker's corner would throw in the towel at that point, but the fight was allowed to continue briefly. With Barker unable to recover his composure under the assault from Sturm, the ref ended things late in the second round.
The result leaves both fighters going in different directions.
Barker, now 26-2 on his career record, could pursue a rematch against Sturm. According to Sky Sports, there is a clause for an immediate second fight in London, but that will depend on the severity of the 31-year-old's hip problems.
Sturm, now 34, has improved his record to 39-3-2 and is a world champion again after losing his WBA belt in a unification match with Geale in September 2012.
And on the strength of his title, the emphatic manner of his victory and his huge support in Germany, Sturm and his career have been given a new lease of life.
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