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Darren Barker’s first defence of his European Middleweight title planned for the Brentwood Centre on July 23 has been called off, as he prepares for a world title challenge against Sergio Martinez in the USA later this year.

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Promoters Matchroom have announced that the show will be replaced by Gavin Rees’ defence of his European lightweight title against Derry Mathews at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on July 23 – which will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn said: “Barker will now concentrate his efforts in the gym as he prepares for a World title challenge against Sergio Martinez later this year.

“We sat down and looked at timings and whilst ideally I would like Darren to have one more fight before Martinez, we also know it’s the biggest fight and opportunity of his life so the camp has to be perfect,” said Hearn.

“We also felt that an ‘easy’ warm up fight wouldn’t be giving value to the fans – but I know they will be following him in big numbers across the Atlantic in this blockbuster fight.”

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