How did you get stared in boxing & who inspired you?
I've been a boxer for more than 20 years now. I started in Launceston when I was nine years old. I had my first amateur fight at the age of 10, this was the first of a great amateur career. I had 165 fights, with 135 wins.
Growing up I was inspired to box by all of the greats. My favourite fight of all time is Marvin Haggler fighting Sugar Ray Leonard. Although I was heavily influenced by Kostya Tszyu, especially in his fight against Rodriguez. The way Tszyu disposed of him in the fight, it lit a fire within me.
In my professional career, my favourite fight would have to be my fight against Felix Sturm. I feel this was my biggest test. I was in Germany fighting the 12 time defending champ. He was the poster boy for boxing in a country that has produced so many champions.
Barker and I both won gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and we were in the same draw at the 2003 world amateur titles in Bangkok. I've seen some of his pro fights and he seems very confident about beating me. He's a smart boxer, a real thinker. He's nice and rangy and he likes to pick people off; use his speed, skills, footwork and frustrate people. He fought the WBC champ Sergio Martinez and was able to out-think him for much of the fight until he made a couple of bad errors and was stopped late. Barker has a lot of ability. He has a similar style to me BUT Barker does not have my workrate he likes to dictate and control, move and jab and keep long but he doesn't throw the volume of punches that I do. It's going to be a bit of a chess match. It will come down to who wants it the most and I'm sure I want the title more. Every fight I'll spar up to 150 rounds in preparation, but for this campaign I've done a little more. My style is to be elusive and the way that I box, I try to keep injury at bay. I'm not the type of fighter who walks in and gets hit with two punches to land one. I regard myself as an intelligent boxer. Boxing is brutal but I still regard it as a sport. To me it's never personal. I don't go out there to hurt someone. Even when I'm going for the knockout, my idea is just to land more punches than the opponent. Some fighters talk tough and get very edgy before a fight having to make weight and with the nerves of the big occasion. But my wife and three kids calm me down rather than fire me up.
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.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV