Boxing: Barker hopeful after lay-off

Darren Barker is ready to renew his assault on the middleweight division and end another "soul-destroying" year ravaged by injury.

Boxing News: Darren Barker

Barker meets fellow former European title holder Kerry Hope at Olympia on December 8 knowing an impressive victory will propel him onto the fringes of the world title reckoning.

A torn bicep forced last month's clash with Simone Rotolo to be cancelled and not for the first time Barker, who was stopped in 11 rounds by the brilliant WBC world champion Sergio Martinez 12 months ago, thought his career was over.

The 30-year-old was back in an all-too familiar place having undergone arthroscopy on both hips and endured injuries to both elbows.

"It was a depressing time, soul-destroying. I hit rock bottom," said Barker, who has won all but one of his 24 fights.

"I had to do some soul-searching and see if boxing was for me. At one point I'd announced my retirement to myself. It was rock bottom stuff.

"You get to 30-years-old and you start asking what am I on this planet for?

"I always believed it was boxing but how can I feed my family if I can't get near the ring? I've got a little girl and it was worrying.

"But I've turned the page and mentally I feel so switched on. I'm ready to kick-start my career again

"I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing and I won't feel content until I win a world title, which I proved against Martinez is within my reach."

Barker finished with a perforated ear-drum against Martinez but only after acquitting himself well against one of boxing's classiest operators.

Big pay days await against the likes of fellow world-title challenging Britons Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin and throughout a strong division.

"No disrespect to Kerry but he's not in my league. If I impress against him, I'm back onto the world scene," Barker said.

"I want to get some momentum going, which I haven't been able to do over the last two years.

"I came up short against Martinez but I went there to win the world title.

"I'm a young 30-year-old and if you look back at my career I haven't had many hard fights. The Martinez fight wasn't a war."

Welsh lightweight Gavin Rees, ranked second by the WBA, also appears on the Olympia bill with John Murray having agreed to be his opponent, pending clearance from the Mancunian's promoter Frank Warren.



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