In a Hennessy Sports promoted fight night at the famous York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, England, Friday night, reigning champion, "Dazzling" Darren Barker faced Steve Bendall for the Commonwealth Middleweight title.
Undefeated Barker was looking to successfully defend his belt against the older, more experienced Bendall. But having suffered shoulder injuries and cuts, former English beltholder Bendall knows this fight is his last chance.
In the opening seconds of round one, Bendall is already on the canvas from a left, then a right to the chin and followed up with another left hook. He jumps to his feet and takes the count from Referee Richie Davis.
But Barker is finding him an easy target and Bendall is getting hit a lot in the opening minute. He seems to be getting caught by the same left shot. “Stevo, Stevo…,” the crowd chant.
Barker continues to dominate from the middle of the ring during round two, but Bendall does seem to settle in towards the end of the round. Barker is relentless and Bendall has already taken too many shots by the end of round three.
Barker's sparring partner, Carl Froch, watches keenly from his ringside seat. Barker continues with his accurate punching and Bendall continues to get caught!
A flurry of shots from Barker rocks back the head of Bendall in the closing seconds of round four - and his corner urge him to up the work-rate.
Mid-way through round five and again - Barker launches a number of shots and Bendall is part way through the ropes. His head snaps back under the attack and he looks tired. It was a better round six for Bendall and his corner looked encouraged as he came back to his corner.
Midway through round seven and, referee Davis calls time momentarily to look at the cut which has just developed on Bendall's right brow from a clash of heads. Fighting continues for another half minute - but Bendall, having taken more shots, now has blood flowing freely from the cut and Davis calls a stop to the contest.
Barker wins by TKO, taking his record to 17-0 (11), while Bendall drops to 28-4 (13).
Afterwards, Barker said he felt he had to box smartly. He said he was enjoying the fight and when asked about the cut, replied - “that’s boxing!”.
On the undercard, Canadian super bantam Andrew Kooner, 7-1 (3), KO'd Gavin Reid, 4-2 (2), in the eighth and final frame of their contest. Welterweight David Walker, 25-3-1 (12), outpointed prospect Andrew Butlin, 2-2-1 (0), over six rounds and lightweight Dave Stewart, 22-2 (5), defeated journeyman Billy Smith, 12-61-1 (0), over six.