Champion Geale enjoys his status as underdog

The wings and cross tattooed on the back of world middleweight champion Daniel Geale are for ”protection”, but, typical of the fighter known as the sport’s nicest guy they’re not to shield him from the punches Britain’s Darren Barker will throw in their fight on Sunday.
Nanjing Night Net

From his ocean-front room in a swish casino resort in far-off New Jersey, Geale revealed the skin art was to protect his family.

”The cross and the wings is a family theme,” Geale said. ”It is something I had done many years ago … it’s like protection for my family … it’s nice and personal, but I also think they look pretty cool.”

Who’s going to argue? After all, Geale, the International Boxing Federation’s champion, lays claim to being perhaps the world’s best middleweight. And, as a long list of opponents including Anthony Mundine alongside the Germans Felix Sturm and Sebastian Sylvester learned the hard way, you pity the fool who underestimates him.

Barker, who enjoys a seven centimetre height advantage and boxes to perpetuate the memory of his brother, who was killed in a car crash seven years ago, seemed to have fallen into the same trap. He made it painfully aware he viewed Geale as his golden chance to become champion, while the Londoner’s trainer, Tony Sims, started to plan his fighter’s mandatory defences against British fighters Martin Murray, Andy Lee and Matthew Macklin long before a punch was thrown in anger.

”I’m not worried about anything my opponent might say,” Geale, a father of three, said. ”Actually, the more he says, the better it is for me. When they talk it up, it’s really their doubt talking. I have confidence in myself, and the more they try to insult me, try and put me off the game, it’s actually good, because it’s their energy being wasted.”

Geale, who had also held the WBA and IBO versions of the middleweight belt, has been the perennial underdog ever since he laced on the gloves for his first amateur bout in Launceston as a 10-year-old against Mickey Streets, a likely lad who was two years older and stronger. ”He beat me. I actually lost my first two fights but I fought Micky again in my third one and beat him.”

The Tasmanian has made a habit of beating his more fancied rivals ever since. And it has followed the same, methodical formula ever since he was, by his own admission, an ”under-developed” 15-year-old pitted against men who were far bigger, more confident and definitely more imposing.

”At 15 or 16 I hadn’t developed and I fought blokes who looked like monsters,” he said. ”I fought men with muscles bulging from everywhere. I remember I fought a Samoan in Tasmania, and while we fought at 71 kilos he looked like he was 91. He clouted me with a big right hand in the first round and I thought it was over there and then, but I stuck to it and beat him quite comfortably in the end.”

He says there was no bruising of his ego in being viewed as, for want of a better word, ”easy” by his opponents. Geale’s record displays a 50 per cent KO rate, while he has won a high proportion of his fights that have gone the distance.

”Barker will believe he has ‘it’ to win the fight and win the title,” he said knowingly. ”I like my opponents going in confident, and in most cases they do. However, when they get in there they realise it’s different. I’ve been overlooked in the past, considered the underdog despite being the champion, but it’s a position I like. I like the other guy being a little bit confident and cocky and expecting to win, because I know when the fight starts it’ll be different.”

Geale, however, acknowledged Barker was a good fighter, just as the Germans Sylvester and Sturm were when he marched into their backyards and humbled them. He learned to read the tell-tale signs of when his stinging and relentless barrages had knocked the confidence out of them.

”The breathing and the body language changes,” Geale said. ”You can tell by the breathing – it gets much heavier.

”If they were confident and coming forward but they then change tactics and move backwards, you know they’re in trouble.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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