Barker set for live TV defence

This is May, 2009

Barnet boxer Darren Barker is in fighting mood ahead of the defence of his Commonwealth Middleweight title.

Barker takes on Darren McDermott at the Watford Colosseum on May 23.

The unbeaten Barnet man will be making the fourth defence of his title live on ITV4.

Opponent McDermott, known as the 'Black Country body snatcher' believes he will prove too strong for the champion, but Barker has shrugged off that prediction.

He said: "It makes me laugh when people say they're stronger than me, because they get a big shock when they actually get in there. People think that because of my amateur pedigree and my boxing ability that I'm primarily a boxer and I don't like to fight. They assume that I'm not physically strong but once they get in there with me they find out just how strong I am.

He added: "I've sparred big, strong Super Middleweight World Champs like Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler, and had no problems with them."

McDermott has just one defeat on his 18-fight professional record and the Dudley native is considered by some to be the dark horse of the middleweight division.

Barker said he he had not seen anything to concern him.

"I've watched McDermott's last three fights and, no disrespect to him, but I don't believe he's boxed in the same class as me. I've always believed that sport is all about leagues and I'm in a much higher league to him. That doesn't mean I don't respect him, because I do, and I'm training hard for the fight, but I simply believe I'm a level above him."

The fight is doubling as a final eliminator for Matthew Macklin's British title, but Barker believes his status as Commonwealth Champ should have secured him a shot at the Lonsdale belt already.

"It's been frustrating because I won the Commonwealth title in 2007 and I've made a couple of straight defences, so I think that should have merited a straight shot at the British title. I believe that as Commonwealth Champion I deserved to be the mandatory for the British title without having to go through an eliminator.

A win over McDermott would finally secure Barker a shot at the British title and he is desperate to get his hands on a Lonsdale belt.

"I think a fight with Macklin would be massive and it's one that the public really want to see. Boxing fans are already talking about it and I can't wait for that one to come around, but I have to focus on getting past McDermott first."

Barker is expecting his fan club to turn up in numbers on the 23rd and, with the venue fast approaching a sell-out, he is looking forward to putting on a real show. "It's pretty much a local venue for me so I know I'll have great support there and I'll be looking to send them all home happy."