Last Saturday Matchroom Sport put on a card billed as ‘Unfinished Business’, a fitting title as both the main-event and chief-support bout, Carl Frampton v Kiko Martinez and Lee Selby v Marin Lindsay respectively, had previously been cancelled.
The March 9th card, ‘London’s Finest’, now has a similar theme, with Lee Purdy facing Carson Jones in a re-scheduled fight already on the bill. The promotional outfit announced today that Darren Barker will face Italian champion Simone Rotolo for the IBF Inter-Continental middleweight strap in a bout that was initially due to take place in September of last year before the Londoner had to withdraw as a result of a bicep injury.
“I suppose there’s a bit of unfinished business involved in it,” said Barker
“He was offered the fight in September when I pulled out so it’s only fair really that he gets his chance. I want to get back on that world stage and this is an important fight for me. We’ve had a good look at him (Rotolo), he’s experienced, he knows his way around the ring, and he’s no mug. I’m going to be on top form. It’s so easy to overlook these sort of opponents but my experience tells me that he’s a danger-man, he’s the Italian champion. Like myself, anyone in the top ten is only one win away from their big shot so I’ve got to be on guard, I’ve got to be at my best,” confessed Barker
The 30-year-old returned to the ring after a 14 month injury layoff against former European champion, Kerry Hope, last December. Barker boxed more aggressively than we are accustomed to seeing from him with every punch looking spiteful en route to stopping the Welshman in the fourth round. He assures us this us we will see a similar performance against the Italian.
“I’ve got confidence in my power and strength now. I said in the interviews after the Kerry Hope fight that I was just starting to reach my man strength and my man maturity. I’ve always been a late maturer but I’m really feeling fit and strong and feeling as if I have a big dig on me so ye there will be a sense of aggression there but always controlled. I like to think of myself as nice, tidy boxer.”
A win over Rotolo could set-up the heavily rumoured clash between himself and Andy Lee. The Irishman called-out his domestic rival after a ten round points victory over Anthony Fitzgerald last Saturday and Barker welcomes the challenge.
“That suits me down to the ground,” He said. “Like I’ve said a few times I’d love to fight Andy, he’s a good fighter. He’s better than he looked in his last fight against Fitzgerald. I respect Andy as a person and a fighter, you know he’s a good bloke and it would be fantastic for British boxing if we could get it on.”
If the Lee fight couldn’t be made Barker has his eye on fellow Brit’s Martin Murray and Matt Macklin. Clashes between the three have been highly sought after by fans for a number of years but Barker hopes now these bouts will finally come to fruition
“All of us keep saying we’re up for it but for whatever reason, be it injury or other commitments, we’ve not been able to (fight) but these are the fights I want to be part of, big domestic fights and world title fights so fingers crossed.”