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Geale is ready to ramp up his middleweight campaign

(Photo © Mario Serrano - Gary Shaw Productions)
(Photo © Mario Serrano - Gary Shaw Productions)

On Saturday night, world traveling IBF middleweight titleholder Daniel Geale, 29-1(15) of Launceston, Tasmania will make the fifth defense of his title against Barnet, London’s Darren Barker, 25-1 (16). The bout, televised by HBO, will be held at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. What’s stake, beyond the title, is the gateway to lucrative fights against WBA titleholder Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and WBC and recognized middleweight champion of the world Sergio Martinez on HBO.


Speaking to Geale earlier this week via phone, the IBF champ sounded laid back as always. Whether it is his upbringing or Australian roots, it’s hard to tell. But for a man who considers himself the underdog even though he is bringing a title into the ring, this fight is all important. Should he win and do it in exciting style, a round robin of sorts for the true middleweight title may begin on HBO with Geale, an important piece of the puzzle.

“Fighting in your own country is one thing; being successful in your country where you’re the big thing,” Geale told Geale pointed out that part of being a world champion is “going around the world [where you show] ‘I don’t mind traveling, I can win fights overseas.’ The US is a great place to be at a fight. I visit every year. I am huge boxing fan, as well. Coming [to the US] is definitely the next step for me and it will lead to great things in the future for me.”


After doing the seeming impossible in May of 2011 and beating favorite Sebastian Sylvester in Germany for his IBF title, Geale did it again last September. This time, he faced favorite Felix Sturm who had escaped several close calls as of late. Geale outworked the WBA titleholder and with the win, inherited the mandatory title defense against Gennady Golovkin who held an “interim” version of the title. Rather than face Golovkin, who at the time was beginning to break through to U.S. boxing fans, Geale opted to vacate the belt, making Golovkin the “regular” WBA titleholder. Geale went on to avenge his lone defeat; a May 2009 split decision loss to Anthony Mundine.


“It was a big decision,” said Geale of dropping the belt. “We were very excited going to Germany and beating Felix [Sturm]. We were put in a position where we were forced to do one thing. They wanted to fight the mandatory against Golovkin. But my management had already had other plans. And I had something that I wanted to do and wanted to do for a while for my record and that was [rematch] Anthony Mundine.”


Geale soundly defeated Mundine over twelve rounds and in the process removed, at least in his mind, the one blemish on his resume.


“It was good. It was a really good feeling, actually. There had been a lot of trash talk leading up to it. [Mundine] had plenty to say, as he usually does. It was nice to win and do it well,” said Geale. “Our first fight was a good fight. It was a very close fight. But to win the second comfortable and do it well, I was extremely happy.”


As for his immediate future, should he beat Barker, Geale will likely have a mandatory defense against Felix Sturm. However, Geale is open to a fight with either Golovkin or Martinez, who is out for the rest of the year recovering from knee surgery. In his absence, Golovkin has been on a roll, staking his claim on HBO and abroad by taking out each foe presented to him in spectacularly brutal fashion. Throwing an aggressive pressure fighter like Geale into that mix should make for fireworks.


“To be honest, it doesn’t bother me, either way,” said Geale. “I guess most people consider Sergio [Martinez] number one even though he is injured. My goal has always been to get that number one spot and be the number one middleweight in the world. That’s what I am aiming for. But if it goes either way . . . if Sergio can come back I would love to be able to fight him. If he is going to be absent for a while, I would love to fight Golovkin, as well.”


Before any of that, Barker must be dealt with. At 6’1/2” to Geale’s 5’10”, Barker will likely use his height and reach to pick his spots and attack Geale as he moves inside to begin his volume attack to the head and body. How Barker holds up to the seemingly endless assault of Geale’s frenzied volume punching is a huge key to the fight.


“I believe we chose Barker for a reason,” said Geale of his voluntary defense. “He has put on some pretty recent good performances. I’m not going to bad mouth him too much. Right now he’s boxing well. That’s the reason I wanted to come over. I wanted to come over and make a statement. I wanted a good fight, a tough fight. I believe I am better than Darren Barker. He is a skilled boxer but in those big fights he hasn’t proved he can do the job yet. I’ve been in plenty of those fights where I have been able to get the job done.”


Geale was clearly referencing Barker’s lone loss, an October 2011 eleventh round knockout at the hands of Sergio Martinez. Barker was having his way early on, breaking the champ’s nose as he played safe and countered behind a tight high guard. But as Martinez dug into his body and started splitting the guard in the middle of the fight, Barker wilted. Barker has bounced back from the loss, having fought once in 2012 and once this year, both wins.


While Geale did not predict a similar knockout victory, he did agree it was important to jump on Barker early and not allow him to get any confidence in the early going; a mistake Martinez made.


“Yeah, I think that is exactly right,” agreed Geale. “He’ll try and counter punch. He’ll try to be tricky and pick things off, make it a slow fight. He’ll try and slow it down. I think he knows that I am going to be active and there’s going to be a lot of action. I think it will be a good, interesting fight.”


Geale also said that the loss to Martinez, also in Atlantic City, will haunt Barker in this fight.


“He is always going to have that in the back of his mind,” said Geale of Barker’s loss to Martinez. “He knows he put on a good performance but he didn’t finish the job. The end has to definitely be playing on his mind. He is going to be stronger, mentally strong and all that but the loss [to Martinez] will still play a part.”


Australia, like all countries with organized sport, has been no stranger to doping scandals. As the issue becomes more and more prominent in sports in general and boxing in particular, it made sense to ask a champion his thoughts on the subject of anti-doping testing in boxing. Geale agreed that higher standards would help legitimize boxing in the eyes of the rest of the sports world.


“For sure, every sport around the world is tested more regularly and probably a little bit harsher than some boxers. I don’t think it is a bad thing. If they started testing everyone equally at a higher level, that would be great,” said Geale. “It would be better for boxing. I hate the thought of the drug takers in the sport getting away with it. So yeah, the more testing the better, I say.”


With a lot riding on Saturday’s title fight, the IBF middleweight reign of Daniel Geale is a burgeoning storm of possibilities. With this U.S. debut, it’s time for Geale and company to go to the next level.


“That’s my plan and my goal,” said Geale. “I really pushed for this fight in the US. I’m extremely keen on having more fights here. But as I mentioned before, I have my mandatory defense [against Felix Sturm] coming up. After I get through Barker, I have my mandatory. Whether we can organize something for the U.S., that would be unreal but I would say my next fight after that could be in Australia. I don’t like looking that far ahead but I would love to be back [in the U.S].”

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