• Boxing

Barker not fazed by formidable Sturm

ESPN staff
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Barker (right) won the title in a bruising encounter with Daniel Geale in Atlantic City © Getty Images
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Darren Barker insists he has prepared well enough to pick apart Felix Sturm's game plan and successfully retain his IBF middleweight title in Stuggart on Saturday night.

Barker is defending the title he won from Australia's Daniel Geale in August for the first time against the three-time champion Sturm, who last held the belt in September 2012.

At 34, Sturm is considered to be past his best but in the past two years has proved hard to beat for English fighters, earning a contentious victory over Birmingham's Matt Macklin and holding St Helens fighter Martin Murray to a draw,

But Barker insists he is not phased by Strum having home advantage and is determined not to see his name added to the Germans list of English casualties.

"Murray and Macklin fell short so I'd like to go one better and beat him" Barker told BBC Sport. Fighting away is nothing new for me, I'm not afraid to travel. I fought Sergio Martinez, the best in the world, in Atlantic City. I won the world title in the States.

"That ring could be anywhere, once that bell goes it makes no difference. But I can guarantee it will seem like it's in London. In Germany the fans are quite subdued, not like my lot - 200 will sound like 2000."

Barker has lost just once in 27 fights as a professional, to Argentina's Sergio Martinez in 2011, and while he is confident of defending his title, the 31-year-old is not taking anything for granted against the formidable German - even if some say Strum may be past his best.

"He was a great champion but this is my time now. He's very experienced but he hasn't experienced Darren Barker yet," he added. "I'm expecting the best Felix Sturm possible but I believe I've got what it takes to beat him. I know what his strengths and weaknesses are and I look forward to exploiting them on the night."

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