In a second successive upset at the Revel Resort, Atlantic City Darren Barker (26-1, 16) claimed a close split decision to take the IBF Middleweight title from Australian Daniel Geale (29-2, 15) in an enthralling and very difficult to score 12 round contest.
The fight started at an amazing pace with both men standing close and trading attacks, Geale, known for his work rate appeared to be his usual busy self but Barker seemed to be just as confident in his stamina and matched Geale almost punch for punch in a great round. The round really could have gone either way and it was one of a number of swing rounds the fight saw as the men refused to let the other really take any advantage, however Barker did land a low one on the bell to end round 2.
The first clear round was the third a round won by Barker thanks to his excellent crisp shots that seemed to rattle Geale at several points. The Aussie tried to fight back but for the first time he was unable to really answer the firepower of the Englishman.
Although Barker had claimed the third Geale appeared to bounce back excellently and took the fourth round as he stepped up his work rate and tried to show Barker that HE was the champion and he wouldn't give up his title with out a fight. It was by the end of this round that both guys were showing signs of having been in a fight with their left eyes reddening from the shots they had each landed. The eyes only got worse through round 5 as they again fought a very tight round that saw Geale landing a low blow that appeared to be a revenge shot for the one Barker hand landed on him
If round 3 was the first clear round then round 6 was the clearest round as Geale dropped Barker hard from a body shot that he only just managed to get up from. The shot, an absolute beauty, would have finished off most men but Barker found a way to will himself to his feet and despite taking a shellacking for a good portion of the round he managed to turn things around late to prove there was still plenty of fight in him.
Following the body shot in the sixth Geale appeared to target the mid section again in round 7 though it was Barker who landed the notable shots and by the end of it Geale's trademark work rate appeared to have deserted with Barker actually having the much better round of the two fighters
The work rate of Geale did return in roudn 8 though only in the first minute or so before Barker came back and possibly stole the round in another of the fights many swing rounds. Unfortunately for Barker it seemed like round 9 was a solid Gale round although Barker did himself land some solid shots it was hard to award him the round as he looked sluggish and tired for the first time.
Barker seemed to bounce back well in round 10 as Geale began to look tired and although neither man appeared able to really hurt the other neither man seemed to be able to really great a gap in the scoring due to close nature of the rounds and the fact that every time one guy won one cleanly the other seemed to take the next.
Going in to the championship rounds it was really anyone's fight due to the close nature of so many rounds. Unfortunately for Geale however he was looking worse for wear not just facially with his lip being swollen but also physically with his work rate dropping dramatically. Geale tried to force himself to battle hard against Barker in the later rounds but amazing Barker fought back even hard and appeared to take round 11.
Having lost the 11 Geale managed to fight back harder in the 12 and probably just took that to even out the score from the previous round.
With so many tight rounds any result was fair and whilst I had the bout a victory to the champion (115-112) the judges felt that Barker had done enough to deserve a split decision with scores of 114-113 each way and an oddly wide card of 116-111 to Barker. I understand there were plenty of swing rounds but 116-111 either way seems unfair to the loser of a great fight.
If anything has come from this, one of the best fights of the year, it's that a rematch should take place as it would be a bit hit with the fans and the fighters as well as HBO