Barker is ready for Canadian

PUBLISHED: 17:18 07 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:30 05 October 2010

CONSIDERING the longest journey away from York Hall in his past four fights was a trip to Dagenham s Goresbrook Leisure Centre, undefeated middleweight Darren Barker will be taking a step into the unknown when he appears in Canada next week. The Commonwea

CONSIDERING the longest journey away from York Hall in his past four fights was a trip to Dagenham's Goresbrook Leisure Centre, undefeated middleweight Darren Barker will be taking a step into the unknown when he appears in Canada next week.

The Commonwealth titleholder, unbeaten in 17 fights, makes his North American debut at the River Cree Resort and Casino, in Alberta, against veteran Canadian Larry Sharpe, who has lost just four of his 27 bouts.

Barker, the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has impressed UK fight-watchers, and is eager to make new fans on the other side of the Atlantic.

"I'm excited to be fighting in Canada," said Barker, before dismissing any suggestion that he might be at a disadvantage by fighting local opponent Sharpe.

"I had an extensive amateur career, and was constantly abroad. I'm quite comfortable fighting overseas. It's really nothing new for me.

"This is why I box and test myself, so I can travel the world and show people everywhere just what I'm capable of."

The 26-year-old earned a string of amateur honours at Bethnal Green's Repton Boxing club, culminating in Commonwealth gold in Manchester.

He turned pro under the Hennessy Sports banner in 2003 and has built up an impressive winning run, beating the previously undefeated Australian Ben Crampton to secure the vacant Commonwealth middleweight title with a one-sided 12-round unanimous decision last November.

He defended the title with a solid stoppage win over Coventry's Steven Bendall, battering the veteran southpaw before stopping him on cuts in the seventh round.

In Sharpe, Barker faces another ring-wise southpaw who takes a six-fight win streak into their meeting.

Sharpe is perhaps best known in this country for a brave display against Plymouth middleweight Scott Dann in February 2006, before being stopped by an uppercut in the ninth round.

"I've only ever seen Sharpe in his fight with Scott Dann, and he was holding his own until he got caught," said Barker, whose Commonwealth crown will not be at stake in the Saturday August 15 fight.

"Clearly, he's a guy who's very experienced, and knows what he's doing in the ring.

"It should be an excellent fight - but I am confident I have the ability to come through a winner.

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