On neutral ground, it was a nearly dead-even fight, with Daniel Geale working hard to retain his IBF middleweight title, and Darren Barker doing everything he could to take it from him. In the end, it was Barker nicking a split decision in a gritty, terrific fight, winning on scores of 114-113, 116-111, and 113-114. BLH had it 114-113 for Barker.
Barker (26-1, 16 KO) came out of the gates hot, but Geale (29-2, 15 KO) battled his way right back into the fight, and looked as though he may have finished the job in the sixth round, when he put Barker down on a gruesome liver shot. As Barker grimaced in pain on the canvas, there appeared no way he would be getting up. But when referee Eddie Cotton's count had reached nine, Barker was standing. And though Geale had plenty of time to work and went for the kill, Barker stood his ground, then miraculously fought back, hurting Geale before the bell sounded and doing more than just surviving the frame.
From there, Barker did his best to outwork Geale, who may forever regret the way he fought from round seven onward. Geale's body attack had shown the ability to hurt Barker, obviously, but it wasn't a huge factor in the remainder of the fight, and Barker outhustled Geale down the stretch to squeak out the decision win and take the IBF title back home to England.
Geale didn't really complain about the decision, saying only that he was "very disappointed" and that it "didn't go (his) way tonight." Barker was quietly emotional, with the moment huge for him after being counted out and even counting himself out as he battled through injuries to come back from his 2011 loss to Sergio Martinez.
Bottom line, this was a hard-fought, gutsy performance on both sides, and these are still, as Jim Lampley put it, two very live players in the middleweight division.