Thursday, January 24, 2013
Talented middleweight Darren Barker has set his sights on another world title bid in 2013, but to reach that target may first settle a domestic dispute against former Repton club colleague Andy Lee.
The two have gone their different ways since they shaped their careers at the Bethnal Green club 15 years ago, but could meet this year providing Lee wins in Belfast next month and Barker triumphs on the Matchroom bill at Wembley on March 9.
Bow-born Lee, 28, who won honours at Repton before moving to Ireland, has been a successful pro fighter winning all but two of his 30 fights.
But following the death of legendary American trainer Emanual Steward, he has moved back to London to link up with David Haye’s coach Adam Booth.
East London manager Tony Sims, who guides the 30-year-old Barker, said: “Andy Lee has been saying he wants to fight top British middleweights, so a clash with Darren looks obvious, with the winner in line for a world title fight.”
Barker added: “It’s a match I want — I think I will beat Andy.”
Barker reignited his world title ambitions with a four-round demolition of ex-European champ Kerry Hope in December, his first fight since losing a brave challenge against super-champion Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City 14 months earlier.
He is confident he has conquered the injury problems which halted his earlier progress and has his sights set on another world bid to follow success at British and European level in his 25-bout career, with the Martinez defeat his only setback.
“I know I have the ability to highlight my career with a world title success,” said Barker, who now looks to boost those hopes with a win at Wembley against a rival scheduled to be confirmed this week for the main event.
Also booked for the Matchroom promotion is another successful Sims fighter, Lee Purdy, who meets American Carson Jones in a clash for the IBF International welterweight title.
Jones, best remembered for his impressive display against he world title challenger Kell Brook, was due to meet the hard-hitting Purdy at Olympia in December.
But a virus forced Purdy to withdraw and the fight now makes an attractive addition to the Wembley bill.
Hard-hitting middleweight John Ryder and the bright lightweight prospect Martin Ward, another former Repton amateur, are two other fighters from Sims’ gym set for the March 9 bill.
Other local fighters booked for action on the night are English light-middleweight champion Erick Ochieng and his stablemate, the unbeaten cruiserweight banger Wadi Camacho.
The Matchroom show also features the Southern Area light-welterweight title bouts between Chris Evangelou and Danny Connor, plus an outing for the shock Prizefighter winner, light-middleweight Larry Ekundayo.