Irish favourite Matthew Macklin admits his St Patrick's Day shot at middleweight king Sergio Martinez in New York feels like "a fairytale".
The Birmingham-born fighter will take on pound-for-pound superstar Martinez at the legendary Madison Square Garden on March 18 desperate to exorcise the ghosts of last year's controversial defeat by Felix Sturm in Germany.
Macklin was denied victory in his long-awaited title shot when WBA champion Sturm won a split-decision verdict despite being comprehensively out-boxed last summer.
Despite that disappointment, Macklin attempts to go one better when he faces Argentinian Martinez, who has now shunned meaningless 'alphabet' titles but holds the lineal middleweight crown.
The 29-year-old said: "I was very disappointed not to get the decision against Sturm but this is the silver lining.
"Everyone in America saw that and they were way more outraged than we were in England or Ireland. Maybe because they love the aggression side of boxing, which I showed. Most people in America barely had Sturm even winning three rounds.
"Everyone thought I won it, but over here they felt I really dominated him completely.
"It was good to get rewarded with this fight because being at Madison Square Garden, on St Patrick's Day, against Martinez, on HBO, it ticks all the boxes. It's like a fairytale."
Macklin, who is now based in New York and is working with local promoter Lou DiBella, has explained his decision to enlist the services of old trainer Buddy McGirt rather than Mancunian coach Joe Gallagher.
Gallagher was in Macklin's corner for the Sturm fight but the fighter believes United States-based McGirt, with whom he worked briefly four years ago, is the right man to help him beat Martinez.
He said: "I thought Buddy was a good trainer back in 2008 but I was in lesser fights, like 10 round fights, so with the travelling and logistics it wasn't practical.
"Now, however, I'm at this stage and I've relocated to New York, signed with Lou DiBella and it makes more sense.
"Joe is a good conditioner but I think the level I'm fighting at now, for boxing knowledge and from a technical and tactical point of view, he's probably not on that level yet.
"He's still a young trainer, learning. In this kind of league, when you come back to the corner, you want to be looking at someone who has been there and done it. Not just as a fighter, because he's done it as a trainer too, in those big fights with Arturo Gatti, Vernon Forrest etc.
"You want that experience in the corner and the gym too, when you're building the gameplan and planning tactics for the fight."
Tags: Sergio Martinez , Matthew Macklin , Martinez-Macklin , Martinez vs Macklin