Boxing: Barker is ready to take on the world

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The Independent Online

Darren Barker is a have-a-go hero commended by a High Court judge after going to the aid of a young football fan being set upon by several hooligans after last year's England v Slovenia match.

The boy escaped but the gang turned on Barker, who despite being one of Britain's most accomplished boxers, was battered unconscious, suffering a severe head wound.

"As soon as the lad legged it they went for me," he says. "But it could have been 10 times worse. I had 10 stitches in the back of my head and a cracked tooth. But I'd do the same again. You have to, don't you? They were well out of order."

Barker, 29, unbeaten but relatively unsung, takes on the Argentinian Sergio Martinez, the world's top middleweight, for the WBC title in Atlantic City next weekend. The veteran southpaw slugger is one of boxing's toughest hombres and Barker is a huge underdog. "But that's the way I like it. There's no pressure. I'm expecting a rough fight, knowing his reputation, but I'm prepared for anything."

"Dazzling Darren", who has won British, Commonwealth and European titles in a 23-fight career, wants to bring the belt back to Barnet in memory of his younger brother Gary, who was killed in a motorway accident five years ago aged 19. He admits that Gary, a junior Olympic champion, was the more gifted of the two.

He says: "Winning the title and joining Britons like Terry Downes and Alan Minter would be special. I want to win, yes, for the money and because I hate losing. But most of all for Gary. He was my best friend as well as my brother." You can bet he will have a go.

Alvarez v Barker is live on Sky Sports 1 at 12.30am on Sunday 2 October