by Terence Dooley
Joe Gallagher has a twin target when taking Matthew Macklin into his WBA middleweight title challenge against Felix Sturm at Cologne’s Lanxess Arena on Saturday night. Gallagher is riding a 49-0 winning streak, 50-0 along with a world title would be the icing on the cake for the coach who believes that his charge is capable of springing the upset.
“We’ve got a mountain to climb, it started of as Mount Everest and has gone down to Snowdon the more we’ve watched Sturm and worked on things in the gym. I hope Matt gets the credit and adulation he deserves when he wins and a victory doesn’t get swamped under the [David] Haye fight,” declared Gallagher on the eve of the contest.
“Matt got bad cuts against Ruben Varon the last time out. He was due to fight [Winky] Wright recently and instead has been handed this opportunity. It shows that sometimes a bad performance can open doors for you. Matt’s trained for the most part of this year and can’t wait for the fight.”
Sturm holds a foreboding 35-2-1 (15) record, he has held the WBO and WBA versions of the title and is 10-0-1 (4) since losing to Javier Castillejo by tenth-round TKO in 2006. The 32-year-old is an experienced campaigner at this level yet Gallagher believes that the Germany-based fighter’s pedigree will make it all the sweeter should Macklin upset the applecart.
“It is a huge task,” admitted Gallagher. “Sturm was unlucky against Oscar De La Hoya (in 2004) and has had a great career. If we go in there and beat him then don’t say he was old or shot, he’s a good fighter who many people don’t want to fight. [Daniel] Geale got a decision win over Sebastian Sylvester over here recently so you can take titles from Germany. Sturm is a technician, one of the best in the world, we have to match that and match his professionalism. We’re confident in what we’re working on. It will be a physical game of chess. Sturm is a different fighter for different fights. This is what we’ve seen throughout his career. You try to second guess him but he can show you things you haven’t seen before.”
Gallagher feels that an away win would lift Macklin into the upper echelons of Irish world title holders, Macklin’s family hail from the Emerald Isle, and would place him on a par with the likes of Barry McGuigan.
“Marvin Hagler and all those greats have held this WBA title so to go British, European and then traditional world title would put Macklin up there with McGuigan. We’ve everything to gain and nothing to lose,” declared Gallagher.
Macklin, however, feels that he has a lot to lose, the 28-2 (19) contender believes that this is his time, insisting that he is not there to make the titlist look good. “I put pressure on myself to win but losing isn’t an option wherever I am, Birmingham, Dublin or Germany,” Macklin declared.
“I’m not going there to be part of the Sturm show. I want to beat him and become world champion. Did I envisage going to Germany to win a world title when I first turned pro? Probably not but life is a funny old thing, you have twists and turns, ups and downs and ten years down the line I’m fighting for the world title in these circumstances.”
Sturm-Macklin along with Kell Brook versus Lovemore N’dou will be televised by Sky Sports HD2 and 2 from 8.30pm on Saturday night.
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