Neither will make the Hall of Fame, and both, truth be told, look made to order to be steamrolled by Gennady Golovkin, but Darren Barker and Daniel Geale put together an entertaining prizefight in the main event at the Revel in AC, and on HBO.
It was the Brit Barker, after showing mile-wide stones by getting up from a liver shot in round six, who had his hand raised, after 12 rounds of tight action Saturday. His combos, and his edge in volume, carried the night in a bout between two men not blessed with scorching power, but with more than ample guts and drive. For the trouble, he left the building with the IBF middleweight crown, from around Geale's waist.
The judges saw it 114-113 (Geale), 116-111 (Barker) and 114-113 (Barker), who had been through a bunch to get that W and that crown, including a loss in a title crack to Sergio Martinez, absorbing a thorough face-stomping by a gang of thugs when breaking up a street fight, and the death of his boxing brother Gary in a 2006 car crash.
HBO's Steve Weisfeld had it 115-112, for Barker. Barker went 292-862, to 259-693 for the loser, according to CompuBox.
Barker said after that he wanted to see his daughter, and lift a few pints, to Max Kellerman. He said that he'd need to take some time before figuring out who he'd like to scrap with next.
Geale to Kellerman said he wouldn't whine. "I hurt him throughout the fight," he maintained. Kellerman told him he thought he was being outworked in the late rounds. "I could tell he was throwing a lot of punches," he said, though he felt he blocked many, and many missed. He called Barker "a great fighter."
In the first, the IBF middleweight titleholder, entering with a 29-1 mark, ate several clean shots from the 25-1 underdog. This bout was Geale's fifth defense of a crown he took from Sebastian Sylvester in May 2011. But a right hand landed clean and sharply on Barker's chin, at 50 seconds, the best punch of the round.
In the second, the 31-year-old Barker landed a clean right cross, and then had him on the ropes, at 1:33. Geale had his moments, in tight quarters, and we wondered who might switch things up to pull away.
In the third, the 32-year-old Geale was outworked again. He ate a lead right as he was pulling back late in the round. Steve Weisfeld had Barker up, 30-27, after three.
In the fourth, Barker landed a showy right uppercut at 1:20. He was punished with a low blow, and took a break, at 35 seconds. Ref Eddie Cotton then added insult to the injury by chiding him for going low.
In the fifth, Barker impressed with some body flurries. Team Geale told their guy to get off the ropes, as it didn't look good to the judges, after the round. Weisfeld now had it 48-47, Barker, who sported a nick on his left eye.
It looked like a gamechanger, maybe, when Barker went down and was up at nine, in the sixth. The hurtful blow was a left liver shot. A minute remained...Barker, praise to him for his resolve, landed a corker right and that semi buzzed Geale, who was threatening to end it.
In the seventh, it was more even-Steven stuff, to Barker's immense credit.
In the eighth, Barker was maybe a bit busier, a bit more flowing with the combos. "You have better boxing ability than him," Team Barker told their guy after the round. In the ninth, little seperated the two, once again, but I liked Barker's combos more. In the tenth, Barker threw more combos, once again, and he landed three more than Geale, according to CompuBox. The 11th saw no dropoff in action, and was again, hard to score. In the 12th, two right crosses were the best two punches of the first half of the round, and Geale scored with them. A left hook also scored smartly, and made Barker pause. We went to the cards...
If you missed the card, here is replay info:
HBO playdates: Sunday, Aug. 18 (8:45 a.m. ET) and 19 (12:45 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Sunday, Aug. 18 (5:00 p.m.) and 20 (12:10 a.m.)
Stay tuned for a ringside report submitted by Bernard Fernandez.
Follow Woods on Twitter.