With an inexperienced, late substitute opponent across the ring, Commonwealth middleweight titlist Darren Barker added the British strap to his waist with a decisive, seventh round stoppage win over Danny Butler in Brentwood.
Barker (21-0, 14 KO) might have lost the first round on pure aggression and workrate from the eager Butler (18-3, 3 KO), but after that the fight was all "Dazzling" Darren. He punished Butler with a stiff jab, a great right hand behind it, and some fantastic body work. As the fight wore on, he more and more imposed his will, as he was clearly the physically stronger and more polished of the two fighters.
Butler, at just 22, gave all he had to give. He fought a 10-round loss to Darren McDermott merely two weeks ago, and was simply outclassed by Barker, who should be moving up to the European stage next, and if successful there, the world stage. Barker genuinely seems to have that sort of promise. He's already arguable as a top 10 middleweight in the world.
What I'd love to see is a fight with Matthew Macklin, who took the vacant European middleweight title in September with a shocking TKO-1 over Amin Asikainen. Macklin-Barker could be a hell of a good fight and would send one of them one step closer to a world title shot. With Kelly Pavlik, Felix Sturm and Sebastian Sylvester holding the titles, it may or may not be feasible, but they'd have earned the chance.
On the undercard:
- Lee Purdy improved to 13-1-1 (7 KO) when an upstart unknown named Mark Douglas (4-3, 2 KO) injured his shoulder early in the fourth round, having to withdraw from the fight. Purdy was clearly the better fighter of the two, but Douglas was making a real go of it, and I had him winning two of the first three rounds. It was a good scrap while it lasted, and a real shame for it to end that way.
- Yassine El Maachi fought tomato can Alex Spitko for the second time, stopping him in the third. El Maachi (11-4, 5 KO) beat Spitko (6-19, 4 KO) via four round decision when last they met. El Maachi has a lot of Anthony Small in him, as he sells himself as a showman while not putting on much of a show, as he's more concerned with possibly scoring some sensational knockout than he is actually fighting, and that leads him to not actually fighting much at all. After the fight, El Maachi (again: 11-4) and his team began to demand title shots, fights with the likes of Ryan Rhodes and Jamie Moore, as he "deserves" a break. He's 30 years old and he's 11-4. I guess you can pick up from my tone here that El Maachi is "not for me." The commentators raving about his great talent and apparently inarguable entertainment value did nothing for me, because there's only so much you learn about a 30-year old fighter who's taking a second fight with a professional opponent.