Sportinglife7th May, 2009

Defending champion Darren Barker has laughed off claims Darren McDermott will be too strong for him when they clash for his Commonwealth middleweight title at the Watford Colosseum on May 23rd.

"It makes me laugh when people say they're stronger than me because they get a big shock when they actually get in there," said Barker.

"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.

"I've sparred big strong Super Middleweight World Champs like Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler and had no problems with them so how is McDermott's strength going to be an issue. I can guarantee him that I certainly won't be backing off in that ring."

McDermott has just one defeat on his 18 fight professional record. That came when he was stopped on a cut in an unsuccessful challenge for the British title last year and the Dudley native is considered by some to be the dark horse of the middleweight division.

Barker though says he hasn't 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.

"He's a solid fighter and I'm not underestimating him but I see myself winning either by a wide unanimous decision or a late stoppage."