Matchroom Boxing brings fight action back to London this Saturday night where Darren Barker and Lee Purdy headline a card at the Wembley Arena, broadcast live on SKY Sports. Darren Barker (24-1, 15 KO’s) will meet Simone Rotolo (35-3, 15 KO’s) in the main event, contested for the vacant IBF Intercontinental middleweight championship.
Barker is coming off a fourth round stoppage of Kerry Hope in December, a victory that earned him the IBF intercontinental super middleweight title. The bout was a major step for Barker, who has previously lost in a trip to the world stage when middleweight champion Sergio Martinez stopped him, a bout broadcast by HBO in the United States. It was Barkers first defeat, though he did better than most expected, hanging tough with Martinez before being knocked out in the 11th round. The Hope fight came just two months later, with Barker making a good showing, dropping hope before stopping him. Barker has also held the EBU and Commonwealth middleweight titles.
Simone Rotolo is the current Italian middleweight champion. He is undefeated in his last eight bouts, though his opposition in questionable. His lone defeat came at the hands of Sebastian Sylvester in 2007, a bout that was contested for the EBU middleweight title. In his last outing, Rotolo defeated Lorenzo Cosseddu over 10 rounds to retain his regional title. He has also been the holder of the WBA Inter-Continental light middleweight title and the Italy light middleweight title. Out of his three losses, Rotolo has been stopped twice.
In the co-feature, Lee Purdy (19-3-1, 12 KO’s) meets Cosme Rivera (35-15-3, 24 KO’s) for Purdy’s IBF International welterweight title. Originally, Purdy was slated to face Carson Jones, but Jones was forced to pull out this week with illness. In stepped Rivera, always ready for a fight.
Purdy is riding a three fight win streak, all by stoppage after losing the BBB of C British welterweight title to Colin Lynes in November of 2011. He rebounded by winning the BBB of C English welterweight title, stopping then 25-1 Adnan Amar in the fifth round. He followed up with a one round stoppage of Chris Johnson just four months later and in September of 2012, won the IBF International welterweight title in a one sided mauling of then undefeated Gumersindo Carrasco, dropping Carrasco three times before stopping him in the fourth round.
In Cosme Rivera, Purdy meets a well-experienced veteran of 53 fights whose only been stopped twice. Though he’s been relegated to journeyman status in recent years, it doesn’t mean he should be overlooked. Rivera’s held a slew of regional titles, the WBF world welterweight title, and had fought for the world strap on several occasions. He’s faced plenty of top, world-class opposition: Andre Berto, Alfredo Angulo, Zab Judah, and Joel Julio to name a few. Even in a losing battle, he’s always put forth a professional effort and comes to win every time out. In his last outing, he dropped a 10 round decision to Yordenis Ugas but was riding a 4-0-1 (2 KO’s) record for three years prior. He’s a very “live” and talented opponent that can give Purdy a lot of trouble of he’s not careful.
Also on the card, undefeated super middleweight George Groves (16-0, 12 KO’s) will face Dario German Balmaceda (11-6-2, 7 KO’s) in a scheduled non-title 10 rounder. Groves is coming off the biggest win of his career; a 12 round-near shut out of the “Road Warrior” Glen Johnson in December. Currently holding the BBB of C British and Commonwealth (British Empire) super middleweight titles, Groves has also defeated top British fighters Paul Smith (TKO 2) and James DeGale (W 12) as well.
Balmaceda is a staple of the Argentine boxing circuit, and is regular on TYC Sports Boxeo de Primera program. He’s never faced anyone the caliber of Groves and he’s never held a title, but had challenged for both the Argentina and IBF Latino super middleweight belts. He’s been stopped five times in his six losses, and is 2-2 in his last four outings, both losses being by knockout. Barring an act of Mother Nature, Groves should remain undefeated without much problem when this fights over.