Published August 16, 2013
LONDON (AFP) – Britain's Darren Barker says he will be driven by more than personal ambition in Saturday's world middleweight title fight against Australia's Daniel Geale in Atlantic City, USA.
The Briton is determined to capture the Australian's International Boxing Federation (IBF) middleweight belt so he can dedicate it to the memory of his brother, Gary.
Barker, 31, almost retired from boxing when his younger sibling was killed in a car accident aged 19 in December 2006, but keeping alive Gary's memory has been one of the Londoner's main sources of motivation after he decided to resume his boxing career.
"Through my boxing success Gary's name gets spoken about and he is remembered, and that helps motivate me," Barker told AFP from New York earlier this week.
"There's no doubt he would have won a bundle of titles and he was better than me. He was a very talented boxer. I nearly quit after Gary died. I didn't want to go near the gym after it happened because we did everything together.
"It took me a long time to get the motivation back to get back into the ring but ever since I did, he's been in the ring with me.
"It's a good feeling knowing that through me doing well, his name lives on. I miss him loads. He was my best friend.
"I will think of Gary in those final moments in the changing room. I think about him before every session and even more so before the fight.
"Winning this title would be for him. I badly, badly, want to win this fight and dedicate it to my brother. So many people have helped me to get this far, but I'm only going to dedicate it to Gary -- that's it."
Barker once again contemplated retirement a year ago after being forced to pull out of a fight with a torn bicep, the latest injury in a stop-start 26-bout career that has seen him lose just once.
The former European champion, who will not have trainer Tony Sims in his corner due to a visa problem, insists he is in prime condition thanks to yoga, meditation and training in a swimming pool at Stamford Bridge, the home of English football giants Chelsea.
Barker, who was stopped by Argentine Sergio Martinez in the 11th round two years ago in a previous bid for the WBC belt, has had two four-round bouts since recovering from his bicep injury and feels he is in the best shape of his career.
"I thought about quitting last year, it's true," he told AFP. "I had made a decision after I had to pull out of the fight on September 8 last year. I just thought I had had enough.
"But when the injury healed, I reminded myself it wasn't a sensible decision. I've managed to get a bit of momentum with two fights behind me since December and the hunger is still there. My body needed the rest and it's healed up nice."
Britain have already got the better of Australia on both the rugby field and the cricket pitch this year, but Geale has vowed to restore pride.
"I've definitely got to get one back -- I've got to turn the tides," said the 32-year-old.
"I said before I left Australia I'm going to turn the tides and get one back for us now so the Aussies can start to win a few."