(Felix Sturm stands over a discombobulated Darren Barker, left; photo credit: AP)
The grim prospect of facing Gennady Golovkin – Kazakhstan’s modern-day take on Grendel’s mother – is one that influences his middleweight contemporaries in myriad ways. Faced with the ultimatum of either boxing Golovkin or finding himself an alternative 160 lb. world titlist by his paymasters at German TV network SAT.1, Cologne’s Felix Sturm coughed up a king’s ransom in order to lure Cockney Darren Barker over onto his home patch. Barker, who’d held his alphabet strap for a mere 112 days, managed only five minutes and nine seconds against his resurgent host at the bustling Porsche Arena in Stuttgart on Saturday evening.
“Dazzling” Darren, 26-2, 16 KOs, whose medical record suggests his body could very well be bound together by bubble wrap and brown tape, appeared to succumb to a recurring hip injury in the opening round (later reported as dislocated) that rendered him a sitting duck against the no-nonsense Sturm, 34, who had bossed the early running with a series of crisp left hooks.
Solid and compact, Sturm, 39-3-2, 18 KOs, looked the stronger and more powerful man, and as Barker stood in range and attempted to trade with him, Sturm landed a short right on Barker’s left ear that dropped the visitor to his knees. Barker rose gingerly before limping into a series of blows that quickly bowled him over again. The Barnet man, clearly struggling now, flashed a look of resignation over to his corner — yet he picked himself up and accepted a further bombardment of clumping blows before his trainer, Tony Sims, climbed the ring steps and threw in the towel.
Barker, 31, who has a clause in his contract that allows him to rematch Sturm on home soil next year, intimated he may never fight again after this latest setback. The underdog coming in, Sturm — who delivered a stunning victory here — showed just what he’s capable of when he elects to be positive.