How is retirement?
It’s good. There’s more than a couple of things to put into the equation. The injuries were an absolute nightmare. I achieved far more than I ever dreamed of. I honestly did. Some people are born to fight, whether it’s boxing or in the army or other combat sports. I don’t think I ever was. I had my goals, which I more than surpassed. I’m just content. I’m really content.
What do you mean when you say you were never born to fight?
I don’t think it was ever in my nature. I was very competitive. You see certain people, the likes of Mike Tyson, who is a born fighter. I’ve got friends of mine who are in the army, I wouldn’t have the bottle to do that. I’m a keen sportman and I love boxing. I wanted to make my dad proud, I wanted to achieve certain things when my brother [Gary] died. That’s what kept me going. But I don’t think I was a natural born fighter. A lot of people say they can’t believe I won a world title and maybe I did overachieve. I was over the moon when I won a NABC [schoolboy] title. I’m sat here now surely the happiest retired boxer there is.
You won every title going, how proud are you of the path you took?
When I set out as a pro that was it, Southern Area, British, European and world. I remember when I turned pro I thought if I could win a Southern Area title I’d be over the moon. Every achievement I achieved at the time was something I never dreamed I could do.
It was never really about me, it was about my brother, about my family. I just wanted to make them proud. I like to think I’ve done that now.
Once you became a world champion, was it hard to sustain that?
I get a bit of stick on twitter because of certain things I say. I can’t win with how I answer. All I can say is I truly believed I would win that fight [against Felix Sturm], I honestly did.
I was gutted I didn’t win.
How’s the hip now?
I’m doing a lot of cycling now. I’m feeling great for it. It was the impact I struggled with with running. I could probably get a mile down the road now and after that I’d be in tatters. With cycling it doesn’t affect me.
The hip’s alright. Now I’m not doing the work load I was I don’t really notice it. I will [need an operation]. I couldn’t even play 15 minutes of football. But with the cycling I’m a different man.
Where do you keep your world title?
My dad’s got it, along with every other thing I’ve won. I don’t own one trophy, not one award, not one certificate, nothing. My dad’s got everything.
Do you think about what it felt like to win that title?
I’m reminded quite often. People say that was the best fight they’ve ever seen.
I’m constantly being reminded about what a great night it was. I’m so happy. I can’t thank my family, my friends, my supporters because they all made that journey what it was.
Watching the replay of the Daniel Geale fight are you surprised you got up from the body shot?
It sounds like an old cliché or I’m making up some drama of a story. When my brother died I said come on I can win this world title. I’ve got it in me. I had the vision of him, whether it was visually or something I could hear, there was a presence. He was there somewhere. He sort of helped me up and the rest is history.
Darren Barker’s boxing masterclass series begins in this week’s issue of Boxing News. Don’t miss it.