This weekend sees Darren Barker & Daniel Geale go head-to-head stateside in a mega IBF Middleweight World Title showdown, while back in the UK Nathan Cleverly finds himself in a real 50/50 fight vs Sergey Kovalev.
The month of August is traditionally a time of the year in which professional boxing is a little quiet on the world title front. However, this year seems to be a bit of an exception and the phenomenal trend of quality fights being put together for the fans continues.
Barker vs Geale
Starting in Atlantic city this weekend, Darren Barker bids to finally fulfill his destiny when he challenges IBF middleweight champ Daniel Geale in a really compelling match up. This fight has been on the cards for a while now and in the eyes of many British fight fans it represents Darren Barker’s make or break fight in terms of him finally becoming world champion.
Rewind two years; Atlantic city all over again, Darren Barker challenged Sergio Martinez for the ring magazine middleweight championship. He started the fight off brilliantly almost out boxing and outclassing Martinez in the early stages, however only to be knocked out in the 11th by a well-timed Martinez bomb.
I think Barker two years on and having the experience of that crushing loss behind him will be a man with good confidence to put it lightly. He fought Martinez at a time when no one wanted to fight him, at a time he was knocking everyone out like Golovkin is now. He will me more than ready for this fight physically but I think psychologically he will be really spot on and will need to be too.
Geale is just a year older than Barker, at 32 he is also a man who has been around the block and like Barker is now probably in his prime as a boxer having been battle hardened for many years in the amateur and professional ranks. Funnily enough I heard Barker saying that he knew of Geale in the amateurs because of their similar weight and age, and had always watched his progression as a fighter from amateur level right on through to the pros.
When you are looking a the tale of the tape everything is fairly even, just like the bookmakers’ odds for the fight. Barker will have a slight reach advantage but in terms of their mutual orthodox style, age, fights and rounds boxed, KO percentage and amateur pedigrees – there is not much to separate between the two. For me the one unquantifiable stat that might just swing the edge in Barker’s favour is his calibre of opponent fought coupled with the fact he maybe more hungry as he is still yet to taste world championship glory. For this reason, I’m going with a Barker close points decision, but don’t be surprised if it goes the other way in what could be a classic bout.
Prediction: Barker on points. Just.
Cleverly vs Kovalev
Moving back across the pond to the UK on Saturday night, Nathan Cleverly puts his WBO light heavyweight title on the line against what could arguably be his toughest opponent to date, all be it not a boxing name known to the casual sports fan, but a man who certainly has the potential to win this weekend – Russian Sergey Kovalev. Kovalev also comes into the clash as an unbeaten fighter like Cleverly.
Again like Barker vs Geale, both Kovalev and Cleverly are fairly well matched in terms of their experience, record and physicality in terms of height and reach. However unlike Barker vs Geale, you could say Kovalev has a substantially harder punch than his Welsh counterpart. Then again Clev has always shown an absolute granite chin, maybe at times a bit too much. I’ve always thought Cleverly should try to use his boxing ability a bit more, because God knows he has plenty of it.
The thing that strikes me about this fight, is the unfortunate lack of build up and hype about it. You actually have a guy in Kovalev who genuinely could take Cleverly’s title and comes into the fight with a fierce reputation within the game. However due to his lack of promotion he is not really known to the casual boxing fan. Some bookmakers actually have Kovalev as a favourite. This is an unfortunate part of the sport these days for me, where a quality fighter simply does not get the recognition he deserves because of a lack of promotional clout behind him.
So who wins on Saturday? Well again its a razor close one, but again, quality of opposition is the deciding factor for me. Although Kovalev comes into the fight undefeated, hungry, a big puncher and an incredibly dangerous fighter, I just feel this fight represents his first real world-class opponent. Cleverly on the other hand has been here a few times in his defenses and I think he will be looking to take out some frustration Saturday night due to the recent unlucky couple of years he’s had with opponents falling out, injuries and cards been postponed.
Prediction: Cleverly by decision for me.
Sport Is Everything. Niall Doran.
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