14.06.04 – Commonwealth games gold medallist Darren Barker has become the third outstanding young talent to join Hennessy Sports in 2004. The 21-year-old follows junior Olympic gold medallist John O’Donnell and former junior ABA finalist John Murray into boxing’s most dynamic squad. Like his teammates, the Barnet boxer – who will campaign at light middle – is set for big things.
“Darren has already proved himself as a sensational young talent,” said promoter Mick Hennessy.
“He excelled as an amateur, winning a Multi Nations gold medal at just the age of eighteen, beating Yuri Romanov – now a #1 contender with both the WBO and the EBU – in the final.
“Then, whilst still in his first year as a senior international, he goes and wins a gold at the Commonwealth games in Manchester 2002 with a fantastic performance.
“Like many of the other amateurs we sign, however, he will perform even better in the paid ranks.
“His style will be better suited – he is an excellent box fighter, with extremely quick hands who will hit even harder as a pro – and he will be able to box at a comfortable weight.
“The abolition of light middle in the amateur game really did not help him.
“He had only just begun to grow into that division when it was removed, so in effect he was forced to move up from welterweight to middleweight.
“It is for that reason alone that he did not qualify for the Olympics; he was forced to go in against much bigger men having only just become unable to make welter.”
Hennessy added: “Darren will also succeed because he has good people around him. He has a great management team in Tony Burns and Tony Sims.
“In Tony Sims he also has one of the best trainers in the game.
“You only have to look at the manner in which Tony has brought along Daniel Cadman to see that.
“Over the last six months Daniel’s timing has improved beyond all recognition and he has really started to hit hard.”
Sims – who also trains Hennessy Sports promoted English light heavyweight champion Spartacus and undefeated lightweight Dave Stewart at his Waltham Abbey gym – sees unlimited potential in his latest charge.
“If Darren works hard, there is nothing to stop him going all the way,” he said.
“He has all the natural attributes required to win major titles, so it is just a case of him getting down to business.”
Barker – who also won a Class C NABC title – intends to do just that.
“I am going to dedicate myself to boxing 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Barker.
“I have an opportunity thousands dream about and I am not about to waste it.”
He added: “The transition from amateur to professional is not easy, so I am already sparring three minute rounds against decent fighters.
“It is hard work, but I have to admit I am really enjoying myself.
“Training five days a week at the same gym with the same people really builds an atmosphere, I look forward to every day.”
It was the treatment his gym mates have been receiving that led to him selecting Hennessy Sports to guide his career.
“After seeing how Daniel, Spartacus and Dave have been promoted, Hennessy Sports was the obvious choice,” Darren added.
“Every single fighter gets looked after and that means that people look forward to all the fights on their promotions, not just the top of the bill.
“Mick also likes to take the boxers the traditional route and gets them real fights.
“That is what it is all about for me, I don’t want to be over protected and I certainly don’t want any fake titles.”