Darren Barker came up short in his first bid for a world title back in 2011, when he was stopped by Sergio Martinez in his HBO debut. Now, he returns to the network and to the United States on August 17, when he faces IBF titlist Daniel Geale.
While Geale is the mild favorite, there's plenty of reason to believe this is about an even contest on paper. Both men aren't quite elite fighters, but are very talented, and very solid boxers. Barker (25-1, 16 KO) has shown more of a mean streak, too, in his two fights back since he taking time off post-Martinez. He dominated both Kerry Hope and Simone Rotolo in those bouts, and while those might not be top wins, both performances were eye-openers. Barker, 31, simply looked a hungrier, nastier fighter than he has in the past.
With this second opportunity at world title glory, Barker says he's very confident that he'll achieve his dream this time around:
"I truly believe I'm better than him. Whilst I would never underestimate him, I truly believe it's my time and my destiny. ... It's not until you experience something invaluable like a defeat in a world title fight to a world class pound-for-pound star like Sergio Martinez that you appreciate the sentiment and I really have taken that negative - losing in a world title fight - and built on it to go one better. I feel I've matured from it and I'm in my prime now."
Geale (29-1, 15 KO) won the title on the road in Germany from Sebastian Sylvester in 2011, and returned to the notorious black hole of judging to beat Felix Sturm in 2012. He's won eight straight since a controversial loss to Anthony Mundine in 2009, which he avenged in January of this year.
Does Barker have the goods to upend Geale and take the belt in two weeks?