British Warriors Matthew Macklin, Darren Barker Eyeing World Title Glory

By James Slater - British middleweights Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker both came close to scoring big upsets in middleweight title fights this year; Macklin especially. Back in June, Macklin lost a controversial split decision to WBA 160-pound champ Felix Sturm; the razor-thin loss the Brit went home from Germany with gaining him much praise..
Barker? He went in with the true middleweight champion of the world in Sergio Martinez four months later, and his brave, better-than-expected challenge saw him take the Argentine all the way to the 11th-round. Like his rival Macklin, Barker earned himself many accolades for his effort. Now, the two men who have been so close to getting it on with each other at least a couple of times in their careers, are chasing a second shot at world glory.

Macklin, as he revealed to BBC Sport, is “getting closer and closer” to a shot at Barker’s conqueror Martinez in New York next year.

“Being in a massive fight at Madison Square Garden is the stuff every boxer dreams of and it’s close to becoming a reality,” Macklin said, tantalisingly.

Now living (for the time being at least) in New York, so as to “build up a fan base,” Macklin says he is determined to “give the city and the huge Irish community here a fighter to be proud of.” Having Irish roots, Macklin, 28-3(19) is on a mission to succeed where recent Irish warrior, the now-retired John Duddy, failed, and rule the world.

There is nothing official yet, but strong rumours have said for a while that Martinez-Macklin will go ahead at MSG on Saint Patrick’s day next year. Can Macklin win where his countryman Barker came up short?

“Dazzling Darren” has another possible route to the top. Promoter Eddie Hearn has reportedly been talking with “several champions” and “hopes to announce something in the coming weeks for Darren’s next fight.” It goes to show how crazy the alphabelt world we live in in modern day boxing can be, when a promoter can talk to “several” middleweight champions, but Barker will relish the chance to win a major belt. According to a number of web sites, the man Hearn is targeting for for his fighter is WBC titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Junior.

Junior has a tough task ahead of his this coming Saturday, against the massively determined Peter Manfredo. Assuming the Mexican comes through that one (and for what it’s worth, I don’t think he will) it could be Barker, 23-1(14) next.

Wouldn’t it be something special if Macklin and Barker both got the big fights they are hoping for, both won and then met to settle their long-running rivalry with all the marbles on the line! That, surely, is too much to hope for from the two 29-year-olds!

Article posted on 17.11.2011

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