By Terence Dooley
Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin relocated to New York after inking a promotional deal with Lou DiBella in August with high hopes of netting a showdown against consensus 160lb boss Sergio Martinez. DiBella now promotes both boxers, Macklin’s stock is high due to a hotly disputed decision loss to WBA titlist Felix Sturm over in Germany and Martinez has indicated that he could be tempted into a St. Patrick’s Day showdown with the Birmingham-born boxer.
A lot depends on Floyd Mayweather. ‘Money’ is a huge draw, if he fails to secure a showdown with Manny Pacquiao then a catchweight with Martinez may be his fall back option.
Macklin, 28-3 (19), understands the pragmatic nature of the sport; he admits that if Floyd comes calling Martinez would be mad to ignore the opportunity. Still, he is itching to face ‘Maravilla’ should Mayweather meet Manny instead, especially after taking in Sergio’s strained performance during his eleventh round TKO win over Darren Barker on October 1st.
“I thought Sergio looked ordinary, surprisingly easy to hit. I know he’s always held his hands done low but his reflexes didn’t look sharp, he got busted up around the face but having said that I do think he’s better than he showed,” Macklin’s view of the Martinez-Barker bout.
“Knowing Barker, a few people thought he could do well but they gave him no chance in America before the fight. Even though you train for everyone exactly the same as a professional there’s always the risk of underperforming against someone you’re supposed to beat – I do think that Martinez is a much better fighter than he showed.”
Macklin was in the UK to cheer on Paul Smith on Saturday night. ‘Smigga’ lost in two rounds to British and Commonwealth champion George Groves after being floored by an exquisite right hook in round two. It was a fight ending shot; Smith did well to get to his feet before succumbing to the follow on attack.
Ironically, Barker himself had started brightly versus Martinez before going down from a right hook. The likeable Londoner was unable to beat the count, prompting claims in some quarters that he had decided to sit it out. However, the shot clattered into his ear and it is far more likely that the blow’s impact was underplayed during the post-fight analysis.
“Everyone is beatable, everyone is human and Martinez is not invincible. I thought initially that Barker would get up from the knockout shot but I’m not in there taking the shot so I can’t comment, really,” Matthew’s take.
“It wasn’t a huge shot but you don’t know about the cumulative effects. Martinez was pulling away, Barker always tires late, he did well early on but did tire and as Martinez started getting his shots off he was pulling away a little bit. Then by round eleven Darren’s given his best and things started going from bad to worse.”
Martinez campaigned for years at light-middle. Macklin feels that he has a natural size advantage over the division’s ruler and insists that this would tell should they meet in 2012.
“A lot of people think I’ll beat him (Martinez),” mused Macklin. “Something you’ve got to consider about him is that he’s really a light-middleweight, he could probably still make 154 whereas I couldn’t even make 158 and he often comes in at that weight. In the final press conference before Barker he was eating cheesecake and is a smaller man than me. I’ve knocked out bigger middleweights such as [Amin] Asikainen and went in with Sturm, who is massive at the weight, and his size didn’t bother me.
“Plus I don’t think Martinez will have the power to really trouble me. There’s the speed on the shots you don’t see but he’s not a concussive banger. OK, he knocked out Paul Williams but that was a hole in one type shot. Paul didn’t see it and it is the type of shot you’d never land again. Then he beat Serhiy Dzinziruk, another light-middleweight, so although there’s the great movement, endurance, fast hands and combinations I think that from a physical strength, punch power point of view, I’m the winner in those departments. Then it becomes a case of who imposes their tactics on the other. He’ll box and move, I’ll try to close the range and make it into my type of fight.”
Fears over Macklin’s ability to push Martinez stem from his 2006 British light-middleweight title defeat to Jamie Moore. An aggressive southpaw, Moore stopped ‘Mack The Knife’ in the tenth, with many extrapolating this KO loss into the potential Martinez-Macklin meeting due to Martinez’s portside stance.
“For the Moore fight, we both could have been southpaws because we just stood there brawling. My night was over in the second round because I was dead at the weight so tactics, technique, everything went out the window – I thought every round like it was going to be my last. That fight was do-or-die, there was nothing technical you could take from it,” his take on that September night.
“I’ve never had trouble with southpaws apart from that. I boxed them as an amateur, trained against them when I was supposed to fight Winky Wright and then Khoren Gevor and handled southpaws in sparring for those fights. I don’t have a problem with Sergio’s stance.”
Now settled into the New York way of life, the 29-year-old feels at home in Manhattan although he will not crack open the Cosmopolitan cocktails until he has a W over Martinez, 48-2-2 (27), under his belt.
“I’m getting into it. I’m not sipping Cosmopolitans but I went a bit mad on the Buffalo wings. I’m soaking it all up. I was at the [Nonito] Donaire fight at the Garden and got a good response: people wishing me well, saying I got robbed against Sturm and saying they hoped Martinez would come off. I’m looking forward to fighting over there.
“I’m disappointed not to be out before Christmas. I trained hard for Winky without it happening earlier this year got Sturm then enjoyed my summer and now I could do with another fight but am waiting until after Christmas. I will go back for a couple of weeks, tick over in New York and once a fight is announced I’ll decide where to train for it – either over here (the UK) or in New York.”
John Murray will no doubt approach his training partner for advice ahead of his own New York fight date with WBA lightweight boss Brandon Rio. Rios is 28-0-1 (20), a monster at the weight and Murray has been widely written off by bookies and fans. Macklin had words of warning for his friend.
“I think John’s an underdog,” he stated. “Before the [Kevin] Mitchell fight you’d have said it was a great chance but now it is hard because you don’t know about John’s confidence. A fighter like John is come forward and relies on that confidence and toughness, when they get knocked out they can be finished very quickly.
“John’s a little bit one dimensional, he’s very good at what he does but he’s not going to get on the jab and move. You see guys like Barrera do both and prolong their careers. OK, they may lose a little intensity but they have experience and adapt. John’s got one way of fighting, is coming off a bad knockout but hopefully that hasn’t affected him. If it hasn’t then it could be a great fight.”
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