Purse bids are looming for new European Middleweight Champion Darren Barker's mandatory defence against former champ Matthew Macklin and the Birmingham based Irishman wants it made very clear that he's ready, willing and able to claim back his old title against Barker. Macklin vacated the European crown in March rather than hold it up after he suffered an injury at Freddie Roach's Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles while training for his first defence. That gave Barker the opportunity to contest the vacant title with Affif Belghecham with the Londoner eventually emerging victorious on points after a titanic struggle with his French opponent..
In recognition of his sportsmanship in deciding to vacate the title the European Boxing Union immediately installed Macklin as the number one challenger to the new champion and with purse bids due for the fight later this month Macklin is chomping at the bit to get his hands on Barker and his old belt.
“I gave up the European title because I was injured and I didn't want to hold the title up and deny other fighters the opportunity to fight for it,” explained Macklin. “Barker got the opportunity and full credit to him for taking it but I never lost the title in the ring so until he gets in there with me Barker's really only a paper champion. I just hope that he doesn't come up with any excuses to find a way of ducking out of the fight and will man up and try to prove that he is worthy of calling himself European Champion.”
Macklin is rated in the top ten with all four of the World's major sanctioning organisations so he is well placed to secure a World title shot but he see's no reason why he can't reclaim his European crown first.
“Obviously a World title is my ultimate aim and I'm very close to that but I want that European title belt again and this is too good an opportunity to pass up. If I'm honest I see it as an easy night's work because Barker's just not in my league. He's ok at British level but he made very, very hard work of picking up the European title against Belghecham and if he's as good as he claims to be then that should have been a walk in the park for him.
“I know a lot of people see it as a very competitive fight. Everyone's entitled to their opinion and there has certainly been plenty of talk about it but most people said that the Wayne Elcock and Amin Asikainen fights would be 50-50 affairs and I simply blew them away and I believe I'd do the same with Barker.
“It's nothing personal against Barker, whenever I've been in his company he's seemed like a decent lad but it's all about levels and I just don't believe he's on the same level as me. I think he and the people around him are deluded if they think he's capable to winning a World title and as long as he doesn't try to squirm out of the fight then I'll prove that.”
Macklin's manager Brian Peters believes that the recently turned 28-year-old is well placed to take advantage of a wide open middleweight division following Sergio Martinez's recent win over Kelly Pavlik.
“Obviously we were disappointed that Martinez got to Pavlik first because Matthew really wanted the Pavlik fight,” said Peters. “He knew it was only a matter of time before Pavlik was dethroned. That result has thrown the whole division wide open and Matthew's a free agent promotionally now, he has no ties to anyone so he's ready, wiling and able to take on the big fights now.
“We've had talks with some of the U.S. promoters and in fact Matthew had agreed to fight both Winky Wright and Sergio Mora in the States over the summer but they both backed out of those fights which tells you how highly Matthew is regarded right now.
“He's very highly rated with all the major sanctioning bodies so he is well placed to secure a World title opportunity but there is also a case of unfinished business at European level.
“Matthew was disappointed at the manner in which he had to vacate the European title through injury and we're very grateful to the EBU for allowing him to get a crack at his old title so quickly and Matthew wants to make the most of that opportunity and prove yet again that he is a World class fighter and the most exciting talent in the middleweight decision.”