By Seth Green: Darren Barker (21-0, 14 KOs), the Commonwealth middleweight title holder, put in a masterful performance in defeating Danny Butler (18-3, 3 KOs) by a 7th round TKO tonight to capture the BBBofC British middleweight title at the Brentwood Centre, Brentwood, Essex. The victory for Barker came to no real surprise to many boxing fans, because Butler was recently rushed in as a last minute replacement for Wayne Elcock who had to pull out of the fight. Barker mostly had his way with Butler, hammering him everthing but the kitchen sink for six rounds until referee Richie Davis opted to stop the bout in the 7th round with Butler still on his feet. Butler looked like he could have continued, but he was just soaking up punishment and not really fighting back effectively.
Barker fought well behind his jab in rounds one and two. He really needed little more than that to beat Butler, who looked hopelessly outclassed by Barker. Butler had problems connecting with anything other than an odd shot here and there when Barker was standing inches in front of him. Most of Butler’s offense was limited to him making a mad rush at Barker and then either plowing into him for a clinch or missing wildly with both hands. It wasn’t pretty to watch, and one felt after awhile that perhaps a more suitable replacement should have been found to take the place of Elcock.
For his part, Barker seemed content to throw mostly jabs. He’d mix in a right every once in awhile, but his rights were little more powerful than his jabs and seemed to be lacking in hand speed as well. Barker looked very mechanical much of the fight, although he seemed to trying to get loose as moved around the right. But it wasn’t really possible because he just seemed very tight and not really smooth. I found myself wondering after the 4th round of watching Barker fight in a robotic manner how he’d do against a top tier middleweight. I couldn’t see him doing well at all.
In rounds three and four, Barker continued to mainly jab and land right hands. Butler covered up and would make an attempt to land a wild shot but would mostly miss. Butler appeared fearful of throwing shots while fighting at a normal distance. He could have been afraid of being countered by Barker, although Barker didn’t seem to be a good counter puncher. He held his arms down by his sides most of the fight and was there to be hit if Butler would have just let his hands go. In rounds five through seven, Barker threw a few more power shots than he did before, but not many. It’s unclear why he was fighting so conservatively because Butler was offering up little in the way of offense and had zero power to speak of when he would land anything.
In the 7th, after Barker hit Butler with a handful of punches, referee Richie Davis stepped in and stopped the bout while Butler was still on his feet and fighting back. I can’t say I was happy seeing the fight stopped so prematurely. Butler may have been outclassed, but he was still fighting and he deserved the chance to go out on his shield rather than have the plug pulled out from under him so quickly.