By James McKnight - @JamesMcKnight83.
'Dazzling' Darren Barker is only days away from headlining Betfair's 'London's Finest' show at Wembley arena. He faces 37-year-old Italian Simone Rotolo for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental middleweight title on Saturday, 9 March.
Barker, 24-1-0, 15 KO's, has held the British, Commonwealth and European middleweight titles in the past and has also fought on the World stage.
In October 2011, he took on WBC 'Diamond' middleweight champion Sergio 'Maravilla' Martinez in New Jersey, USA, and gave an excellent account of himself. Barker managed to break Martinez's nose in the contest, but in the 11th round was caught by a solid shot to the head and was unable to beat the count.
Due to injury, Barker was out of action for just over a year after the loss to Martinez, but returned to winning ways in style at London's Olympia last December. The 30-year-old proved a different class and showed real ferocity in his punches as he battered Wales' Kerry Hope in just 4 rounds. Hope's corner could only throw in the towel just moments after Barker had sent Hope to the canvas. With that win, Barker claimed the vacant IBF Inter-Continental super-middleweight title.
Simone Rotolo, 35-3-0, 15 KO's, turned professional in 1999 and has captured a few titles since. In 2001, in only his 13th pro fight, he claimed the Italian light-middleweight title. In 2002, he claimed the WBA Inter-Continental light-middleweight title and in 2007, he took on Germany's Sebastian Sylvester which was for the European middleweight title. That fight resulted in Rotolo losing a close split decision over 12 rounds and meant that Sylvester had successfully defended his European title. Rotolo went on to claim the Italian middleweight title in March 2012 and then successfully defended the belt that November.
Darren Barker and Simone Rotolo were due to meet in 2012 as the fight was actually signed, but in September Barker was forced to pull out due to an arm injury.
Barker is determined to face some of his fiercest domestic rivals in the near future and is also itching to get back on to the World stage. He is of course extremely focused on the job in hand against the experienced Italian. Barker wants to show the boxing vacinity just how serious he is about getting back on the big stage. He truly wants to fight the biggest names at his weight again and is very adamant on putting on a fine show himself this Saturday.