New IBF world middleweight champion Darren Barker admits he could not breathe when he was knocked down by Daniel Geale but dug deeper than ever to prise the belt from the Australian.
The Barnet-born fighter defied the pre-bout boxing betting to win by a split decision in Atlantic City on Saturday. However, he was only a second away from losing the biggest fight of his career.
Geale floored Barker with a bruising body shot in the sixth round and the Briton only just got back to his feet before the end of the referee’s count. He battled his way back into the contest and did enough to convince two of the judges he had outfought Geale.
An emotional Barker dedicated the victory to his late brother Gary, who died in a car accident in 2006. He said he wanted the title so much and that is what saw him turn defeat into a memorable win.
“When I stuck to my boxing and kept it simple, I was winning the rounds comfortably. But it was just the occasion and wanting it so much that I was loading up with big shots,” Barker told Sky Sports.
“But there was no stopping me because I wanted it so badly and when I was on the floor, even though I couldn’t breathe, there was no way I was staying down.”
Barker, who lost his previous world title shot against Sergio Martinez in 2011, said he was confident he had won the fight but faced a nervous wait for the decision.
“I had done my job for 12 rounds then it was up to Michael Buffer to read out the scores and find out my fate. I thought I won the fight and without the knockdown, I think it would’ve been a unanimous decision,” added Barker, who is set to take on mandatory challenger Felix Sturm next.