I give Barker an outside chance of an early KO but Geale is probably going to win a 12 round decision. He's busy in a way that judges like and his defense is a bit underrated. Geale UD.
I think Darren Barker is the slightly more talented fighter, but his past stamina issues will continue to give me pause until and unless he wins this fight and shows that that's no longer a problem. Barker doesn't exactly gas, but he's had a habit of fading in fights against the likes of Affif Belghecham and Domenico Spada, allowing two mediocre fighters to stay in the fight and make things competitive. The good news for Dazzling Dal is that he's looked positively ferocious since returning, slicing through Kerry Hope and Simone Rotolo as if they weren't on his level and didn't belong in the ring with him, which is really the case. But that was also truly the case with Spada and Belghecham, too, and Barker didn't do that against them.
The aggression that we saw from Barker isn't likely to be they key difference against Geale, who is an intelligent technician and simply a much better overall fighter than Hope or Rotolo. Geale's best win came against Felix Sturm in September of last year, and if he fights as well as he did that night in Germany, this is going to be a big ask of Barker. This is close to a 50-50 fight, though, in my view. It's a risky pick to hope that Barker cannot allow Geale to win this fight -- where inferior fighters fell short, Geale is more than capable of taking that same opening and producing a grind-it-out sort of win. But I'm going with a new titleholder coming out of Atlantic City tomorrow night. I'm picking Barker to take this one via solid decision, something around 8-4 in rounds, with Geale coming back down to earth a bit faced with a classier fighter than the likes of Mundine, Adama, and Albert, and one that is or at least very well should be in his prime. Barker by decision.
Fraser Coffeen, Bloody Elbow
I'm not going to lie here - I'm not completely sold on either fighter. Both are solid fighters capable of being at the top of the middle of the pack, but I don't see either man being able to make the step up to the highest levels. That said, they pair up well, and this should be a good fight. Geale is the better boxer, but Barker has solid all-around skills himself. In the end, I think Geale just barely edges him out, but it's a close call. Geale by decision.
Most of the time, when you hear a fight being referred to as a potential chess match, it means that it has all the ingredients to be an absolute stinker. This is one of them, however I'd be more confident that this would be a poor spectacle were it not for the way that Barker has ripped through both opponents since returning from injury-enforced hiatus #3,257.
Nonetheless, it's hard to see this not going the distance, and it's here that I favour Geale. Though the slightly shorter man, which could potentially work against him if the two try to outbox him, it's hard not to be impressed by his workrate and outright persistence. Barker fell short against Sergio Martinez while not doing much of anything all fight. I fully expect a more stirring performance in this, his possible last big chance at a step up, but I see Geale edging it by two or three rounds. Geale UD.
I think we have made a little too much out of Barker's close loss to Sergio Martinez. He did better than anticipated, but much of that was due to the surprise of his strategy of waiting and waiting and waiting for Martinez to come forward. Once Martinez had him figured out, it was over. Not that Geale is something great himself, but he is very technically sound and can keep up a good pace. He'll outjab and outwork Barker for stretches of the fight, earning him most of the close rounds while keeps a tight guard. In a OK-nothing-great type of fight, Geale proves to be a little better offensively from a distance in a tight one. Geale by unanimous decision.
I think Geale and Barker are very similar fighters, both in terms of ability and personality - it's a 50-50 fight between good fighters and good blokes, in other words, my kind of fight. I'm having a hard time separating them, Geale has the better wins on his résumé but Barker did well against Sergio Martinez and has shown a frightening determination to succeed since that defeat, as well as a more aggressive approach.
In fact, it's Barker's new found aggression that has me leaning ever so slightly towards him in this fight. The way he went out to demolish Kerry Hope and Simone Rotolo was impressive, they're obviously not as good as Geale is but it was refreshing to see the usually laid back Barker going out with evil intent. If he can do that against Geale and maintain it into the later rounds, which could be a test considering Barker has slowed late on in a couple of fights, then I'd pick Barker to sneak a close and maybe somewhat controversial points victory. Barker by decision.