By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Lou DiBella made it perfectly clear that he really likes Matthew Macklin.
The feeling is mutual, but Macklin took exception after a press conference at Madison Square Garden to his promoter’s prediction that Macklin’s fight Saturday night against Sergio Martinez won’t go the distance. Macklin took that to mean Martinez would win by knockout, but the confident Irishman from Birmingham, England, just cannot envision that happening.
“It’s a throwaway comment,” Macklin said. “He’s sadly mistaken. [Martinez is] a sharp puncher, don’t get me wrong. But a big, gangly welterweight like Paul Williams ain’t the same as a solid 160-pounder like me. Other than one fight, when I fought Jamie Moore at 154 [pounds], when I was absolutely dead at the weight and I got knocked out after 10 rounds, I’ve never been down in my life — amateur, pro, sparring. I’ve never even been shook. My chin is rock solid. Anything he hits me with will bounce off and I’m just going to keep walking through.”
Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs) predicted again Thursday that he’ll stop Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs) in their 12-round fight for the Argentine southpaw’s WBC Diamond and The Ring magazine middleweight titles in The Theater at Madison Square Garden (HBO; 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). Macklin dismissed Martinez’s prediction and promised to pull of an upset, despite Martinez’s consensus status as one of the top three pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
“He is, but so was Donald Curry when Lloyd Honeyghan knocked him out,” Macklin said, referring to the huge upset produced by another British boxer 25 years ago in Atlantic City. “So was Kostya Tszyu when Ricky Hatton stopped him. These fighters get beaten. Nobody goes forever. … He’s been a great champion. I’m not going to say anything bad about him, because there isn’t anything bad to say. But I just believe that at this stage of my career and this stage of his career, I’m the better man. And I’m going to drag him into my type of fight, and I don’t think he’ll be able to live with it.”
The 29-year-old Macklin also considers Martinez’s age an advantage entering the biggest fight of his 10-year pro career.
“He’s 37 years old now,” Macklin said, “and on Saturday night he’s going to feel every single day of those 37 years. There will be a new middleweight champion.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.