Cwmbran boxing trainer Gary Lockett believes that his newest boxer Kerry Hope is capable of pulling off a big upset over the world rated Darren Barker this weekend in London, writes Dewi Powell.
Barker last fought 14 months ago in a loss to reigning world champion Sergio Martinez. Hope has had five fights during Barker’s absence, including a European title win but after losing it in his first defence many think he’s the underdog.
Lockett said: "Kerry’s a massive underdog for Saturday but he’s fit and ready. If Darren Barker has any injuries, it will be very hard and a tough ask for Barker. We’ve heard rumours that he is carrying an injury but we can’t listen to that, we have to prepare for the best Barker."
Hope and Lockett were stable-mates under Enzo Calzaghe four years ago, Hope has had a series of trainers since but Lockett is trying to rekindle Hope’s old style. He said: "Kerry’s well schooled, when he was with Enzo he was a slick boxer but after Enzo a few trainers have messed his style a bit, he’s stiffened up and he’s more about pressure.
"We’ve been working on relaxing when he punches so he’s not stiff and not just a pressure fighter. I think he has a false record with one stoppage in 18 fights, he hits a lot harder than that.
Hope, 31, joined Lockett’s growing crop of boxers in August. A win on Saturday would be one of Lockett’s biggest as a trainer but he plays down the personal achievement it may bring.
"If he was to win, it would be right up there with what I’ve been involved with as a trainer. I’ve only been a trainer for three and a half years, I’ve still got a lot to learn but if he did it lets not forget that it isn’t my achievement, it’s Kerry’s."
Hope will be the last Welshman involved in a title fight in 2012 and Lockett thinks that Welsh boxing is getting back to the high levels it reached during the Calzaghe gym days.
He commented: "We’ve had a good year with Gary Buckland, Lee Selby and Gavin Rees making progress and it was brill Nathan Cleverly defended his title in America. Kerry won and lost the European title and he has another big fight on Saturday. It’s getting back to the Newbridge days."