Darren Barker heads straight into the lion’s den against Felix Sturm at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart but the IBF middleweight world champion has been given a boost after domestic rival Martin Murray backed him to retain his title.
The St Helens boxer is predicting his fellow British middleweight will outwork the 34-year-old Sturm, who also beat another British middleweight hope in Matthew Macklin in a controversial decision, and claim a points win.
And there is no better man to run the rule over this contest after Murray, challenging for the WBA middleweight world title, was held by Sturm to a contentious draw in Germany back in 2011.
“I’m going to pick Barker. I think Sturm is fading dramatically,” the 31-year-old said.
“This is Sturm’s last chance. He knows that, he needs this belt, so he’s going to be in the condition of his life and he’s going to be ready for it, but I just think if Barker can just stick to the game plan and take him into the second half of the fight. I think Barker takes over there.”
Despite heading to Sturm’s backyard, the Barnet-born fighter can take heart from the fact Daniel Geale, the man he beat to win the IBF title back in August, ripped that same belt from the German fighter.
Barker came on strong in the latter stages of that fight to win the title and against an ageing Sturm, who struggled in the second half of his no-contest against Sam Soliman, Dazzling Darren can take full control of the latter stages of the fight.
The-31-year-old, who comes into this fight at his peak, may not have the devastating knockout power to stop Sturm but he has the dazzling skill to outbox his opponent on the night.
German fight nights are no strangers to a controversial decision, as Murray knows, so Barker will have to be on his guard and make sure he works for the full 12 rounds, but if he does the 11/8 on the Chelsea supporter defending his title with a points win looks the best bet on the night.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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