IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale has fought his way to his current standing as one of the top 160lbers in the world today with a no-nonsense style and hopes to make a successful transition to a US audience tonight against Britain’s Darren Barker.
The 32 year-old Aussie was an unheralded challenger in May 2011 when the ‘Real Deal’ fought outside of his homeland for the first time against Sebastian Sylvester, but shocked all by coming away with the red belt via a split decision in Germany.
Since then, a mixture of routine defences, a revenge mission against Anthony Mundine and a unification win over Felix Sturm have elevated Geale’s status sufficiently enough for American promoter Gary Shaw to now take a chance on the likeable champion’s appeal. 29-1 Geale has to prove his worth against a familiar face to the Stateside fans as former two-time European title holder Barker makes his second trip to New Jersey in 22 months after his heroic effort against Sergio Martinez at the Boardwalk.
Any victory could be the catalyst to some mammoth match-ups for Geale as possible clashes with Martinez himself, WBO champion Peter Quillin and the formidable Gennady Golovkin dangle in front of Tasmanian for the coming months.
For Londoner Barker, 31, another failure across the Atlantic would be catastrophic in the current climate and could mean the Matchroom fighter misses out on high-profile domestic battles with Martin Murray and Andy Lee in 2014.
Injuries have played a major part in Barker not hitting the heights in his career until his late twenties and ‘Dazzling’ Darren is focused on avoiding a second loss on HBO, which would be a major setback in selling him on US soil again in the future.
UK fight fans are already licking their lips at the prospect of the middleweight division having a world champion on British shores, such is the strength in depth of the weight-class – which goes right the way down to British title challengers Billy Joe Saunders, John Ryder and beyond in terms of the talent pool.
Throw Matthew Macklin and Chris Eubank Jr. in the mix and the next couple of years would have a host of potential super-fights in store for Barker’s homeland and nothing but an underdog victory will do for the two-time world title challenger tonight.