Barker makes light work of Rotolo to take middleweight title at Wembley Arena
23:10 GMT, 9 March 2013
00:15 GMT, 10 March 2013
Darren Barker secured a routine victory over Simone Rotolo and the vacant IBF Intercontinental title after the Italian was forced to withdraw before the start of the fifth round.
The middleweight, fighting for the second time in a matter of months after a cruel run of injuries, needed to make a statement with his domestic rivals also progressing and would have been underwhelmed that the opportunity to do so was taken away.
Barker is one third of a rivalry with world-title contender Matthew Macklin and next month’s WBC challenger Martin Murray and impressed with a relaxed approach at the start but soon after fought more raggedly.
Strong showing: Darren Barker knocks down Simone Rotolo during their IBF Inter-Continental Middleweight bout
Fine fettle: Barker took Rotolo to task with a flurry of punches in the first round
Rotolo was knocked down after a flurry
of punches towards the end of the first round when caught against the
ropes but instead of stopping his opponent there and then, Barker lost
any real polish and instead messily pursued the knockout which
ultimately never came.
Edging each round if not dominating
them as a more polished Barker perhaps would have done, the middleweight
tested his opponent occasionally if not convincingly and was in the
midst of another flurry of punches when Rotolo significantly backed off,
avoiding the fight and shaking his hand in obvious pain until the end
of the round came and the Italian’s corner announced his withdrawal
almost instantly after.
'Macklin and Murray [who fights WBC
champion Sergio Martinez on 27 April]' are looking busy now, so I’d like
a fight with Andy Lee,' he said afterwards.
He told Sky Sports 2: 'I'm ready to push on now. There's the obvious domestic fights
and world title fights – I'm game, I'll fight any of them. It just takes
two of us to get the ball rolling and it could be rematches, trilogies,
Pushing on: Barker is looking ahead to his future which could involve 'rematches' and 'trilogies'