Darren Barker (26-1, 16 KOs) outworked defending champion Daniel Geale (29-2, 15 KOs) over 12 scintillating rounds to capture the IBF middleweight championship at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City, NJ.
The bout was telecast live by HBO Championship Boxing.
The opening round set the tone for the entire fight.
Geale landed the first punch of the night, an inside left hook. Barker later countered with his own hook. A couple of strong right hands also connected. Both men traded hard bodyshots. Barker, 30, sat down a on a couple of heavy head punches.
In round two, Geale used angles and a stinging uppercut. Barker clocked Geale with a hard right hand. Geale landed a combination, but looked hurt by a body shot at the bell.
Geale, 32, bounced and fired punches in round three. Barker was more conservative with his output, but was landing consistently. Barker landed a strong jab that knocked Geale back. A few seconds later a hard right hand also connected.
Barker was the fighter landing the heavier shots.
The rangy Barker landed a sneaky left on the inside in round four. A sweeping right hand by Geale hurt Barker. Geale’s frenetic style paid off with shots to the head and body.
Geale went back to the body in round five. Barker clipped Geale with a shot to the chin. Barker ate some more punches, but fought back in the last minute of the round. His edge in power was making a difference.
The fighters traded left hooks in round six. Barker landed a trifeca to the body. Geale moved side to side and found Barker with a lead right. A hard left to the liver put Barker down. Geale tried to end the fight as Barker bent at the waist and wobbled, but by the end of the three minutes the courageous Barker had rallied back.
Barker tried to show he was ok in round seven. He accomplished his goal by beating Geale to the punch. Geale kept using angles, but Barker landed some thudding punches to the head.
The fight was even (on this writers scorecard) entering round eight. The fighters traded stinging shots in the first minute. Geale connected with an uppercut. A Barker combination snapped Geale’s head. The champion fought back with a stinging right hand.
Geale tried to pick it up in round nine. He believed going into the fight that his stamina could be the difference. He clocked Barker to the head and body. Barker landed a four punch combination. Geale countered with his own shots. Barker ended the round with more work to the body.
Barker stalked while Geale looked to pick his shots in round ten. Barker’s consistent attack continued. He popped up like a yoyo and landed a salvo to the body. An uppercut and right stung Geale. Barker was bleeding from a cut near his left eye.
Barker was feeling it and fought with extra determination in round 11. Geale fired back, but Barker was fighting like a man on a mission. He pounded Geale with booming shots to the chin.
The last round was more all out action. Geale must have felt in his bones that he was behind. He landed a right, but Barker shook it off. A left hook hurt Barker, but Geale missed with a follow-up punch. Barker recovered to fight back.
The scores were 114-113 Geale, 114-113 and 116-111 for Barker.
Doghouseboxing scored the bout 114-113 for the new champion.
“I take my hat off to Daniel Geale,” said Barker in the ring. “My thoughts were on my late brother when I went down. They brought me down the stretch.”
“I’m not going to cry and whinge and carry on,” said the classy Geale. “It’s disappointing.”
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