By Michael Collins: Former EBU and Commonwealth middleweight champion Darren Barker (23-1, 14 KO’s) will be back in the ring next month against 36-year-old Italian fighter Simone Rotolo (34-3, 15 KO’s) for a fight for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental middleweight title at the Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill, London, England. Barker, 30, hasn’t fought since losing to WBC Diamond middleweight champion Sergio Martinez last October in an 11th round TKO loss.
It was a really good performance from Barker, as he gave Martinez one of his toughest fights in years. However, Barker failed to press the attack and he allowed Martinez to take command in the later rounds and score a knockout.
Barker remains one of the best fighters in the middleweight division. He’s interested in facing contender Matthew Macklin in the future. A fight between the two of them would be a highly interesting fight because both guys have excellent boxing skills and can punch. Barker is more of a pure technician compared to Macklin but he can punch almost as good.
The fight against Rotolo is more of a tune-up type of thing for Barker, as he’s a lot better than this guy and really should be challenging for a title instead of wasting time on facing lower level opponents. However, it’s good for Barker to take a tune-up right now to get back in the winning ways so that he can reload for another title run or for a nice money fight against Macklin.
Rotolo was beaten by Sebastian Sylvester by a 12 round split decision in October 2007. Since then, Rotolo has won his last seven bouts, albeit against largely weaker journeyman level opposition. A fight against Barker is going to be a tremendous leap up in competition for Rotolo and it’s likely not going to end well for him.