Boxing - Barker stopped by corner in the second after impressive showing from Sturm

In Stuttgart, Darren Barker lost his IBF middleweight title in his first defence to former champion Felix Sturm after being floored twice in the second round and then retired by his long time trainer Tony Sims.

A reinvigorated Sturm was desperate to become a four time champion. Barker was adamant that wasn’t going to happen, but perhaps underestimated a highly motivated home fighter who had a large deal waiting for him to sign should he come out the winner.

Sturm started a lot quicker than he usually does, and gave Barker a tough opening round, which was fought at a fast pace at set the scene for a great fight. The Barnet champions’ work to the body was effective and his fast hands caught the eye, but Sturm seemed to have more power in his shots and found Barker a bit too easy to hit with successful left hooks being landed by both.

Barker came out aggressively in the second and managed to push Sturm onto the back foot, but was caught with a right which landed behind the ear and wobbled him. This was quickly followed up with another head shot to put him down. Barker was unsteady as he made his way up for the count, but came straight back at Sturm, only to be put down again with another head shot.

He was in distress and waved to his corner with an apparent hip problem, but still clawed his way back up and after a brief assault from Sturm, managed to throw back. But trainer Tony Sims, who could see that Barker had problems moving, threw the towel in at 2.09 second into the round.

Tony Sims said after the fight:  “His hip went in the first round when he threw a right hand. He came back to the corner and said to me “I think its gone.  It’s hurting me”

“In the second round, he got clipped with a shot and when he went down, I don’t know what’s happened to him, but it’s completely gone on him. He got up, and I was hoping it was just going to be a muscle injury maybe or something like that, when he went down the next time, that’s why I threw the towel in. I knew he wouldn’t be able to move around. As he got up, he was shaking his leg.

“It’s a disaster really.  I don’t think you’ll see him in the ring again now.  He’s had all these problems with his hips before, and he’s had them operated on, but they just ain’t right.  It’s completely gone, his hip now. They are just going to take him t the hospital and do an x-ray. We’ll see what’s happening from there.”

Felix Sturm was impressive.  Sky’s Andy Scott asked him if it was his best performance:  “The second best.  The fight against Oscar De la Hoya was the best performance.”

There is a rematch in the contract, which has to happen by next summer, but if Barker has disclocated his hip, that’s highly unlikely. Having had numerous injury problems in the past, this could indeed mean the end.

If that turns out to be the case, it’s a shame that we might not get to see the Matthew Macklin fight. But the Barnet middleweight can be proud of his achievements as a British, European and World champion, and hopefully, the purse from the fight has made his future a lot more comfortable.

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