Darren Barker to face Felix Sturm next, possibly in December

Rich Schultz

The new IBF middleweight titlist has a mandatory defense to make against Felix Sturm, and promoter Eddie Hearn is already trying to bring that fight to the UK.

Darren Barker won the IBF middleweight title last night with a gritty split decision victory over Daniel Geale in Atlantic City, and promoter Eddie Hearn is trying to bring him back to the United Kingdom for his first defense, which will come against mandatory challenger Felix Sturm. Hearn says the fight is possible for December.

Barker (26-1, 16 KO) won his first world title by getting off the canvas after a brutal liver shot in the sixth round, not only surviving but clawing back pretty quickly to do some damage of his own. It was a gutsy, tough performance for the 31-year-old Londoner, who turned back a very capable titleholder who also fought quite well, in what was a fight with plenty of action.

Sturm (38-3-2, 17 KO) is past his prime at age 34, showing severe vulnerability in most of his recent fights, including a controversial win over Matthew Macklin, a controversial draw against Martin Murray, a loss to Geale, and a loss that was changed to a no-contest against Sam Soliman. His only clear wins since 2011 have come against Sebastian Zbik (RTD-9) and Predrag Radosevic (TKO-4).

If Matchroom can get Sturm to travel for a fight with Barker, it will be the first time that Sturm has fought outside of Germany since 2005, when he went to Croatia. Other than that, he has not left Germany since his own controversial loss in 2004 to Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas.

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