Darren Barker has rejected a bumper offer to face British and Commonwealth middleweight titleholder Martin Murray in the spring.
Hatton Promotions, who look after Merseyside contender Murray, admit to being very surprised that Barker’s manager, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, has refused to make what would be an eagerly anticipated domestic scrap.
Despite the promise of a significant payday for 29-year-old Barker — stopped in the 11th round by THE RING’s middleweight champion Sergio Martinez last time out in October — Ricky Hatton revealed that Hearn pulled the plug on negotiations earlier this week after claiming the Barnet fighter might have a world title shot lined up for May.
“I am not privy to what Darren earned when he fought Sergio Martinez last year, but I think our offer may have topped it or, at worse, been very close,” said former two-weight titleholder Hatton. “Put it this way, it was a huge amount for somebody challenging for British and Commonwealth crowns.
“Eddie Hearn initially made an offer for Matchroom Boxing to stage the fight, which we bettered by a considerable amount. Eddie responded and only matched what we put on the table, which was strange, and added it was his final offer. But we again countered and bettered it by a fair amount.
“Eddie got back to my Director of Boxing, Richard Poxon, on Tuesday night, refusing, and said he ‘thinks’ that he has got Darren a world title fight in May. If Darren has got a world title fight for the sort of money Hatton Promotions are offering, fair play to him, but this is a concrete offer and not a contest his promoter can ‘think’ will happen.
“I am sure Darren isn’t running scared and would be tempted by our offer, but I cannot say the same about others in his team, although I hope Eddie proves me wrong on that. I will work with any promoter for the good of my fighters and I am sure Sky Sports would love their viewers to watch a fight between Martin and Darren.”
Hatton is still hoping that Hearn and Co. will return to the table, but in the meantime confirms he is exploring other avenues for 29-year-old Murray, including a possible rematch with WBA (super) middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm following their controversial spilt decision draw in December.
“One thing for sure is that Martin will be involved in big fights in 2012 — whether Barker wants to know or not,” said Hatton.
Photo / Chris Royle-FightWireImages.com