Darren Barker looked a bit rusty out of the gates in his comeback fight against Kerry Hope, but that only lasted about a round. After that, Barker turned up the heat and laid waste to former European middleweight champion Kerry Hope, stopping the Welshman in the fourth round when the corner threw in the towel.
Barker (24-1, 15 KO) became very aggressive in the third round, sitting down on shots nicely, pouring on the pressure, and picking up a bounce in his step. He looked like a man on a mission to impress and get himself back into the mix in the global 160-pound division, and he's at least thrown his name back in the hat with this win.
Hope (18-5, 1 KO) was decked on a right hand in the fourth round, going down pretty hard. After a couple more shots when the action resumed, Hope's corner decided to pack it in for the fighter. Hope wasn't happy about the decision, but it wasn't a bad one from an outsider's perspective. Barker was clearly on another level, and just tearing into him.
If this is the sort of new approach Darren Barker is going to have in the ring, he's going to be plenty fun to watch.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said after the fight, "He can win a world title. I know he can. The key is getting him out boxing regularly. He'll be back in March."
"He's come back and beat a former European champion, and he's come back after 14 months and brought a performance like that," said trainer Tony Sims. "That just shows you where he's going to go."
John Ryder stayed unbeaten, advancing to 13-0 (8 KO) with an eighth round stoppage of Eamonn O'Kane (8-1, 3 KO). Ryder fairly well handled the fight the whole way, with O'Kane only having moderate success here and there. He may have won a round, possibly two, but Ryder never seemed like he didn't have the right plan of attack. In the eighth, he ripped O'Kane with a good left hand, and wore him out until the referee stopped it. It wasn't a spectacular stoppage, but it was fair and earned.
Bantamweight prospect Kal Yafai improved to 6-0 (5 KO) took out Spanish champion Jorge Perez (11-6, 6 KO) in three rounds. Yafai scored a knockdown in the first round on body shots, and was totally dialed in. There's talk of putting Yafai in with Jason Booth soon.
Off television, Dean Byrne (16-2-1, 6 KO) came in on short notice and pulled off an eight-round draw with Carson Jones (34-9-3, 24 KO), which is a big result for Byrne. Also, Erick Ochieng (12-1, 4 KO) retained the English junior midldeweight title with a 10-round decision win over Max Maxwell (16-12-3, 3 KO).