by Hamilton Nolan
Daniel Geale (29-1) and Darren Barker (25-1) are, superficially, exactly the same fighter. Both are middleweights in their early 30s who’ve made their names overseas -- Geale in Australia, and Barker in the UK. Both have a single loss on their records -- Geale a close decision loss to the veteran Anthony Mundine in 2009, and Barker a somewhat more defensible 11th round knockout loss to pound-for-pound contender Sergio Martinez after what had been a remarkably close fight. Neither are enormous punchers. Both are seeking to step up to a big money fight at the top of the middleweight division. Their fight this Saturday night would seem to be a meeting of clones. But it will be their slight differences that will matter much more than all of their similarities.
Geale, in a way has the better pedigree: he’s avenged his loss to Mundine, cleaned out the ranks of Australia, and last year notched a win over the solid (but fading) Felix Sturm in Germany, cementing himself as a contender on the world stage. He holds the promise that always comes with those who have dominated their own far-flung corner of the world -- the vague hope that the talent that proved so overwhelming in one place may translate to The Big Time. It is the crackle of possibility that makes boxing’s nature as a global sport so fun. As men like Daniel Geale conquer their home countries, they all must step into greater arenas in America to see if they can conquer the very best of the best.