Boxing


Matthew Macklin Believes He Will "Blow Away" Darren Barker In September

by James Slater - Set to collide in Birmingham, UK on September 18th on Frank Warren's "Magnificent Seven" bill, are rival middleweights Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker. In what could possibly be the best fight of the huge card, Macklin-Barker has got a lot of people excited.

Having the look, in many eyes, of a 50-50 match-up that either guy could win, the bout that will see the unbeaten Barker defend his European title is, surprisingly, one that 28-year-old former European champ Macklin feels will be a relatively easy win for him.. Forced to vacate the European 160-pound title through injury earlier this year, Macklin saw Barker, also aged 28, pick up the title - adding it to his British and Commonwealth belts. Now, on Sept. 18th, Macklin will get the chance to regain at least the European strap (it's not clear yet if Barker's other two belts will be on the line).

Birmingham's Macklin, 26-2(18) overall but unbeaten at middleweight, will enjoy hometown advantage on fight night, and he will also enjoy the top class training and sparring Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym in L.A has to offer. Set to jet to L.A later this week, after the official press conference to hype the grudge-fight, Macklin has been talking to RTE Sport about the upcoming clash with London's Barker, 22-0(14).

"I never lost the [European] title in the ring, so until he gets in there with me Barker's really only a paper champion," Macklin told RTE Sport. "I just hope 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 he is worthy of calling himself European champion.

"I know a lot of people see it as a competitive fight. Everyone's entitled to their opinion and there has certainly been plenty of talk about it but most people said that the fights [I had] with Wayne Elcock and Amin Asikainen would be 50-50 affairs and I simply blew them away and I believe I will do the same with Barker."

Macklin, probably best remembered, still, for his epic, losing battle with the now-retired Jamie Moore, has really been looking good since that September 2006 light-middleweight defeat. Winning nine in a row since being halted by "Mooresey" in the 10th-round, Macklin has apparently reached his peak form. And, as big a fight many people see his clash with the 6'0.5" Barker to be, Macklin, the smaller man at 5'10," is already looking ahead and thinking about a world title challenge.

"Obviously a world title is my ultimate aim and I'm very close to that but I want that European title again and this is too good an opportunity to pass up," Macklin said confidently. "If I'm honest, I see it as an easy night's work because Barker's not in my league.

"I'm going to have had the best possible sparring for the Barker fight (at Roach's famous gym), and that's going to make a hell of a difference. The European title is coming back to Birmingham."

In all honesty, I myself see the gifted Barker as anything but "an easy night's work" for the warrior known as "Mack The Knife." And, to some degree at least, Macklin's perhaps overconfident words are a little worrying. Has Macklin made a mistake, and is he way underestimating Barker? Sure, "Dazzling Darren" didn't look all that great in winning the European belt in his fight with Affif Belghecham in March (winning on points over 12-rounds) but the 28-year-old put that less than scintillating performance down to a bad night at the office, and yet he still won handily on the cards.

If Macklin is looking forward to facing THAT version of Barker on September 18th, he really could be in trouble. Both men seem pumped up for the fight, and it will be interesting to hear what the respectful Barker has to say in response to Macklin's somewhat boastful comments.

Article posted on 12.07.2010



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