Thursday, May 21, 2009

British Scene: Barker vs McDermott, Fury vs Belshaw

For the first time since Carl Froch's dramatic late win over Jermain Taylor across the Atlantic in April, Mick Hennessy's stable of fighters will be back in action.

Matt Chudley has the preview for Saturday night's ITV4 show that features Darren Barker (pictured right) defending his Commonwealth middleweight title against Darren McDermott.

Photos © Justin McKie

Check out our recap of both UK shows from this weekend: Cleverly, Barker and Fury Score Stoppages

Saturday May 23

Darren Barker vs Darren McDermott, Tyson Fury vs Scott Belshaw (ITV4)

By Matt Chudley

In the main-event, highly skilled middleweight Darren Barker (pictured below left doing road work with John O'Donnell), defends his Commonwealth title against Dudley's once beaten English champion Darren McDermott, while Scott Belshaw and the ever talkative Tyson Fury go at it on the under-card.

While on paper Barker's title defense against McDermott may seem like a small but appropriate step-up in class for the North London native, it also indicates some serious intent and ambition from Barker and his promoter Mick Hennessy.

Considered by most to be the best middleweight in the UK is the all action brummie Matthew Macklin and rather than deciding to navigate their assents in separate routes as is nearly always the case, Hennessy has received sanctioning for this upcoming defense to also qualify as a final eliminator for the British title. With Macklin under the guidance of Frank Warren and the likelihood that negotiations would be beyond complicated, Mick Hennessy is showing supreme confidence in his man by looking to drag Macklin and Warren into purse bids.

First though Barker must concentrate on getting past McDermott, who at 16-1-1 holds a career best win over former reigning English champion and common opponent Steve Bendall, with his one defeat coming via an unfortunate stoppage due to cuts. Having bettered McDermott’s decision win over Bendall with a seventh round stoppage and beaten a few more accomplished fighters, Barker will undoubtedly be extremely confident but should be wary of looking beyond the black country fighter.

Though billed as the chief-supporting bout, the 8 round clash between heavyweight prospects Tyson Fury and Scott Belshaw has arguably become the most anticipated bout of the weekend.

Belshaw had been scheduled to fight on the under-card to Rogan-Sexton in Belfast last week but was left on the sidelines after his opponent pulled out. Having missed the opportunity to fight in his hometown and with the incessant claims from Tyson Fury that no UK heavyweights wanted to fight him, Belshaw has decided to step up to the plate.

The 10-1 Frank Maloney promoted fighter presents a unique challenge for the loud mouth Fury, being that its the first time Fury will have faced an opponent of a similar size and stature. Both men are amongst the many young heavyweights to have come up against well traveled yardstick Daniel Peret. The limited but brave Peret has been able to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of Heavyweight prospect, coming up short against the likes of Fury and Derek Chisora yet beating Larry Olubamiwo and Belshaw. While avenged, this defeated does not bode well for Belshaw as it shows that he may only be able to intimidate overmatched opponents with his heavy but extremely slow hands.

Filling out the televised portion of the card are the modest but always game, under-card battlers George Hillyard and Matthew Thirwall who go for 10 rounds at middleweight.

Carl Froch will return to his part-time role as ITV pundit for the evening and possibly elaborate on a future bout with Lucien Bute.

e-mail Matt Chudley

Check out Dave Oakes' preview of Nathan Cleverly vs Billy Boyle