Darren Barker shows an impressive return to form in stopping Kerry Hope

Darren Barker shows an impressive return to form in stopping Kerry Hope
By Iain Dolan at ringside, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 13, 2012)

Darren Barker
This past Saturday night, Barnet's Darren Barker showed an impressive return to form stopping Merther's former European champ Kerry Hope in four polished rounds at Kensington Olympia on Saturday night. Barker (11st 8lbs 12 oz) started cautiously, understandable after his recent injury set backs as both fighters spent the first round feeling each other out. In the 2nd round Hope (11st 7lbs 8 oz), boxing from a southpaw stance, enjoyed success when on the inside but Barker scored from range and probably edged the round having landed the cleaner shots. Kerry pressed forward in the 3rd but Darren countered effectively particularly with the straight right down the middle. Barker seemed to me to be sitting down on his shots a little more than in previous fights and Hope was clearly shaken a couple of times.

Barker started the 4th with another big right down the middle and followed it up with a left to the body, right uppercut, right hook combination that dropped Hope hard on the canvas. Hope rose at the count of five and looked just about OK to continue but another big left hook from Barker had the Hope's corner throwing in the towel. Darren looked excellent after such a long lay off and if his injury worries are truly behind him he can look forward to a good 2013, perhaps with a couple of early nights along the way if his new found punching power persists.

Promoted to chief support after the cancellation of two of the bigger fights on the card were Islington's John Ryder (11st 6lbs) and Irish Prizefigher winner Eamon O'Kane (11st 5lbs 8oz), facing off for a British middleweight title eliminator. Neither fighter had tasted defeat as a professional so both men started with confidence. O'Kane marched forward and loaded up with the big right but missed a lot as southpaw Ryder picked him off with short, chopping hooks. O'Kane looked much the bigger man but the fight followed a similar theme throughout which meant that eventually Ryder's cleaner work did start to have an effect. O'Kane would walk forward swinging and occasionally hold and Ryder would counter with hooks.

Heads clashed occasionally as you'd expect with the southpaw/orthodox match up but it was far from a dirty fight. By the 5th round Eamon seemed bereft of ideas and was starting to miss with most of his shots while eating John's counters almost every time. O'Kane did land two nice right hooks in the 7th but it was a false dawn. The 8th of a scheduled 10 turned out to be the last as John landed a cracking left hook early in the round. Eamon finally ran out of gas and dropped his hands. Ryder capitalised and two big right hands snapped Eamon's head back and referee Howard Foster had seen enough to call a halt. It was an entertaining fight and it's good to see two undefeated fighters, both in good condition and both ambitious sharing a ring.

Earlier on in the evening hot young prospect Kal Yafai (8st 6lbs 8 oz) faced his latest test in the shape of Spain's Jorge Perez (8st 12lbs 80z). A left hook to the body from Yafai had Perez on the deck late on in the 1st round but the Spaniard showed plenty of heart by getting up and coming out for the 2nd round. Kal looked much bigger at the weight and landed almost at will throughout the 2nd round. Perez landed a body shot of his own at the end of the 2nd which caused Yafai to stop in his tracks. Normal service resumed in the 3rd as Yafai continued to land upstairs and down. Towards the end of the round, both the referee and Perez's corner had decided he'd taken too much punishment and the towel arrived at the same moment the referee stepped in to end the fight. Perez was a good and durable opponent but it's going to be hard to match Yafai going forward. Anybody a bit sub standard will get blown away but it's a bit of a risk to throw someone 6-0 with a dangerous opponent also. It's going to be an interesting ride whatever happens.

It was a good show and a good atmosphere considering two big fights got canceled at short notice. Barker and Ryder both sold plenty of tickets being London boys and what could have been a bit of a wash out turned out to be a good night for the fans.

Questions, comments, email Iain Dolan at:

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