BRAVE DAZ DEAD SET ON WORLD TI­TLE

Barker vows to com­plete Lazarus-style come­back

Midweek Sport - - TV GUIDE -

DAR­REN BARKER was beaten and left for dead 15 months ago – now he is three days away from be­ing crowned the world’s top mid­dleweight.

The un­beaten Bar­net fighter is a mas­sive 9/1 un­der­dog to beat WBC di­a­mond mid­dleweight cham­pion Ser­gio Martinez in At­lantic City on Satur­day.

Box­ing again is an achieve­ment when Barker rec­ol­lects a night out in June 2010 when he was sav­agely set upon by a gang of three thugs while try­ing to break up a fight in Wat­ford town cen­tre.

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He was beaten with a bro­ken bot­tle, kicked in the head and knocked un­con­scious, but the yobs walked free with slaps on the wrist.

Barker said: “It just shows that in this day and age there is no point in be­ing a hero.

“I just saw some­thing go­ing on and felt sorry for the poor lad.

“I felt I should do some­thing and ended up com­ing un­stuck.”

De­spite the hor­ror as­sault and a ma­jor hip op­er­a­tion, Barker got his ca­reer back on track with am­bi­tious pro­moter Ed­die Hearn.

In his only fight un­der Hearn in April, he re­gained the Euro­pean crown with a wide points de­ci­sion over Ital­ian Domenico Spada at Lon­don’s Olympia.

Barker, 29, has spent the last month train­ing in Canada and faces Martinez head-to-head to­day at a glitzy New York press con­fer­ence.

He ac­cepts that only his fam­ily and clos­est friends give him a chance against the Ar­gen­tinian su­per­star who has beaten men like Kelly Pav­lik and Paul Wil­liams.

Daz added: “I am not tak­ing this fight just to make up the numbers or for a good pay day. I gen­uinely be­lieve I can win.

“I have ded­i­cated my life to this sport since I was 12.

“In my teens I was in the gym giv­ing blood, sweat and tears – learn­ing my trade. I don’t even see my­self as a mas­sive un­der­dog – as mad as that seems – be­cause I know what I am ca­pa­ble of and no­body has seen the best of me yet.

“It will take some­one as great as Ser­gio to get that out of me. Pound-for-pound lists are myth­i­cal but you have got Manny Pac­quiao, Floyd May­weather Jr and him.

“If I am go­ing to fight for a world ti­tle, I want to fight the best, and Martinez is num­ber one in the mid­dleweight divi­sion.”

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