By Mitch Abramson
The former John Adams HS football player was supposed to fight Beck in November on the undercard of John Ruiz and Andrew Golota at Madison Square Garden, but was squeezed out because too many bouts were scheduled.Barrett (30-3, 16 KO's) barely missed a chance of fighting Vitali Klitschko for the WBC heavyweight championship at the end of last year. Klitschko chose to fight Danny Williams instead, and he flattened him in 8 punishing rounds, knocking him down four times.Owen Beck (24-0, 18 KO's) is not exactly a household name, but a win over him would accelerate Barrett's bid for a title shot. Beck, 28, is undefeated and highly ranked but he has also been criticized for the fighters he has beaten, none of whom are familiar to casual boxing fans.”It doesn't matter,” Barrett said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I know that he hasn't fought the caliber of opposition that I have, but he's in my way and I have to get rid of him. I'm not overlooking Owen Beck, I'm looking at him as a killer, and he's in my way.”There was a time in Barrett's career when he was the young heavyweight trying to make a name for himself. Barrett was 21-0 and streaking toward a world title shot when he fought Lance Whitaker, a hulking yet limited fighter from California who was coming off a loss in his previous fight. Barrett was the favorite and he had no problem playing the role.”Instead of training like I should have, I was on the internet talking junk,” he said. “I knew Lance, and he told me after the fight that he had trained really hard for that fight. I overlooked him and got caught up in the hype. I was already thinking of the next fight and what I was going to do down the line. That's the reason I'm not looking past Owen Beck.”Barrett lost a split decision to Whitaker in 1999 and was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko two fights later in a disappointing performance that should have removed him permanently from title contention.Instead, Barrett rebounded and won six fights in a row, landing him a mega fight with Joe Mesi, the most popular fighter in the sport at the time. Barrett lost a majority decision at Madison Square Garden in Jan. 2004 but was impressive, and the fight resuscitated his career and got him a bout with Dominick Guinn, another undefeated fighter. Showing improved balance, Barrett won a decision and won back the public that had left him following the Klitschko debacle.”I'm dreaming about getting a title shot, and I don't want to waste this opportunity,” Barrett said. “I'm a veteran in this game, and I won't allow myself to get distracted. I have been waiting too long for a fight like this. Right now, I'm obsessed with Beck.”Harold Knight, Lennox Lewis' former assistant trainer, and Barrett's trainer for the Guinn fight, has been replaced in the corner by Dilem Parsley. Barrett promises more hand speed and a consistent jab to counter Beck's greatest strength, which is his hand speed.It would be easy for Barrett to overlook Beck, a resident of Tennessee, and envision a title fight with any of boxing's current world champions. The heavyweight division is in shambles. Chris Byrd, the IBF champion, is a blown up middleweight; John Ruiz, the WBA champion, is the most maligned heavyweight of all time, Klitschko is extremely beatable and Lamon Brewster, the WBO champion, is lucky to be champion.Based on his long and accomplished career, Barrett, 33, has as much a right to a title shot as anyone, but he isn't getting ahead of himself. “After I take care of business, we can talk about the other heavyweights,” he said. “I feel great for this fight, and nothing is going to stop me.”Codrington wins again. Super middleweight Jaidon Codrington improved to 7-0 with 7 KOs when he stopped Joey Rayburn in the second round Friday at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan. Rayburn, who dropped to 13-4-1, cut Codrington, who is a Bridgeport, Conn. native living in Queens. But Codrington, who knocked Rayburn to the canvas in the first round with a left hook, put an end to the bout at 2:49 of the second round with a flurry of hard straight rights.The fight was part of promoter Lou DiBella's popular “Broadway Boxing,” series.Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.