History | Premium | Aug 17 2019

My Night: Darren Barker scores one of the greatest feel-good victories in British boxing history

Darren Barker goes in-depth about a memorable triumph. 'I was struggling with my breath, thinking about my daughter and my brother,' he says
darren barker
Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

I REMEMBER when the fight was signed, as clear as day. I’d just got back from my stablemate Lee Purdy’s fight with Devon Alexander, having been in his corner in Atlantic City. My mum was graduating to become a midwife’s assistant and we were up the South Bank in London. We went to her graduation and, after walking over one of the Thames bridges, I was going for a drink and something to eat with my close family. The phone rang and it was my promoter, Eddie Hearn. Everyone looked over as they wondered if it would be the fight announcement or, worse, a call to say it wasn’t going to happen. I waited outside as they went in and Eddie said it was all signed and done. It became a double celebration.

I’d known Daniel Geale years before and our careers kind of paralleled, except that he won a world title before me. He’d won the welterweight gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and I’d won the light-welter. You always keep one eye on your rivals and I always fancied I could beat him. I was happy it was in Atlantic City as I wanted redemption in that place, it was one up against me after I lost to Sergio Martinez there in 2011.

We started camp at my trainer Tony Sims’ old gym in Hainault. It was a fantastic camp, I did virtually no running and I did a lot of work on the trampoline. Two weeks before the fight we went to Jersey City and I did a few sprints. We found a good gym out in New Jersey, where I sparred Ossie Duran. The area was quiet, not as manic as nearby New York. It was me, Tony, [assistant coach] Marl Seltzer and my brother Lee. Everything went so well.

Darren Barker
Action Images/Andrew Couldridge