What are your thoughts on your opponent, Daniel Geale? Thoughts on fighting in the US in Atlantic City?
This is what it’s all about – reaching the pinnacle of your sport should be everyone’s goal and I’m close to it now. I truly believe I’m better than him, our paths have mirrored the other; we both boxed in the 2002 Commonwealth Games, he won gold at welterweight, I won at Light Welterweight, we boxed in the World Championships in 2003 in the same weight but on opposite sides of the draw, and I’ve kept an eye on his pro career as I have on a number of others and I’m very confident, I know what he’s all about, I know what I’m all about and I know how to beat him so I can’t wait for August 17.
I’ve had two failed attempts in Atlantic City now – losing my first World title challenge against Sergio Martinez at the Boardwalk Hall in October 2011, and I was back in May in the corner of my gym mate Lee Purdy when he lost to Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title – so it feels like third time lucky. He’s an Aussie, I’m a Brit, so it’s neutral ground but territory that I’m familiar with having boxed there and been in Lee’s corner so I feel I have a slight advantage in that respect.
I’ve heard people say in the past that you can learn from defeat, but I always thought that was mad – how can anything good come from losing? It’s not until you experience something invaluable like a defeat in a World title fight to a World class pound-for-pound star like Sergio Martinez that you appreciate the sentiment and I really have taken that negative – losing in a World title fight – and built on it to go one better. I feel I’ve matured from it and I’m in my prime at 31 now.
That feeling is because my training has changed completely – you have to grow up and learn how your body works, you can’t train like an 18 year old for your whole life – but it doesn’t mean I train any easier. I work in the pool now more than I run and I’ve been doing a lot of Yoga which has helped me no end, so I do feel the best I ever have and the total package.
During my training camps for the last two fights against Kerry Hope and Simone Rotolo I was always worried that the injuries might come back and haunt me but now that fear isn’t in my head whatsoever, that’s all behind me now.
Not only am I right in my body, I also feel right in my mind. I am so motivated to take this title and when I do, it’s for my brother Gary, who was such a talented young boxer. He was killed in a car crash back in 2006 and it was the end of my world when it happened, losing my best friend like that. It took me a long time to get the motivation back to get back into the ring but ever since I did, he’s been in the ring with me and along with my fiancé and little girl; this title is going to be for Gary.
DANIEL GEALE VS. DARREN BARKER, JONATHAN ROMERO VS. KIKO MARTINEZ AND NATHAN CLEVERLY VS. SERGEY KOVALEV is seen SATURDAY, AUG. 17 at 9:45 p.m. (ET/PT) exclusively on HBO.