Darren Barker retires

15/01/2014 20:24

Former world champion Darren Barker has announced his retirement from boxing.

Barker achieved his greatest moment in the sport last year, taking the IBF middleweight belt with a courageous victory over Daniel Geale in August.

But the Barnet fighter suffered a serious hip injury in his first title defence, a second-round stoppage defeat by Felix Sturm in December.

A string of injuries have disrupted the 31-year-old's career in recent years and he made the tough decision to hang up his gloves after this latest setback.

"I've been struggling with injuries for a while now and that coupled with achieving my ultimate goal, I thought it was the right time," Barker said.

"I wasn't feeling anything in the fights previous to that. It's unfortunate, but I've achieved my ultimate goal. I don't think you'll find many happier retired fighters than myself and I look forward to the future now."

When asked if he could change his mind in the future, Barker said: "No chance. You won't see me in a ring again.

"I hope I stay within the sport in some capacity, but it's a mixture of my body and my desire fading a little bit you know.

"A lot of people are aware of my brother passing away and my goal was always to win a world title for him and I managed to do that.

"I think once I did win the world title, a little bit of my drive and ambition faded a little bit. I'm very happy, I'm so proud of what I managed to achieve."

Barker claimed British, Commonwealth and European titles as he rose up the rankings, but was halted by Sergio Martinez in his first world title shot in 2011.

His career was thrown into doubt after he struggled with further injuries, but Barker appeared better than ever as he returned with wins over Kerry Hope and Simone Rotolo.

The thrilling battle with Geale would come next and Barker rose from a knockdown before pounding out a points win, which prompted emotional scenes in Atlantic City.

Barker's brief reign was ended in heart breaking fashion and he hobbled from the ring after losing the belt to Sturm in Stuttgart.

Promoter Eddie Hearn paid tribute to Barker, who retires with a record of 26 wins, 16 stoppages, with just two defeats.

He said: "After the changing room tears, a visit to the hospital for treatment to his hip and the disappointment of losing his world title, Darren's family and friends made their way back to the hotel.

"We shared a beer and just by looking in his eyes I knew it was all over but Darren Barker was at peace, the struggle was over but he had achieved all he ever wanted.

"That night in Atlantic City was for me, as many of us, one of the greatest of my life but what makes me happier is that Darren can leave the sport in peace.

"He can retire financially secure ready to spend time with his fiancé Gemma, his daughter Scarlett and his brilliant family knowing that he achieved the greatest dream of all and no-one can ever take that away from him."