By Terence Dooley
Birmingham’s Matthew Macklin fell just short when challenging consensus middleweight king Sergio Martinez at New York’s Madison Square Garden last night when the 29-year-old’s trainer, Buddy McGirt, withdrew the challenger from the fight after two knockdowns late in the eleventh round. Macklin rose to his feet both times only for McGirt, a former world champion, to pull the plug on the contest during the minute break between the eleventh and twelfth.
Floored twice, badly cut along his scalp and feeling the effects of a grueling, albeit it tactical, battle, Macklin further established himself as a 160lb contender and showed the world that his close run decision defeat to WBA titlist Felix Sturm last June, a fight many thought Macklin had won, was no fluke.
Although disappointed by McGirt’s decision, ‘Mack The Knife’ confirmed that his committed and intelligent performance, in which he used patience in order to draw Martinez in, proves that his partnership with McGirt could result in a world title once the two have had a few more fights together.
“I wanted to carry on,” said Macklin when speaking to BoxingScene.com on Sunday morning. “I was fine. My head cleared as soon as I went down. They were good shots, but if my balance had been good when those shots landed, I wouldn’t have gone down.
“One judge had me up [by three] before the eleventh, the other two only had me a round down. I stopped moving my head and started reaching in, that’s why I got caught flush. I’m gutted. Buddy’s a good trainer, but we needed more time together to iron out a few technical habits.
“Buddy’s an excellent trainer, his tactics were spot on – we just need time together. As I got tired, I started to think I maybe needed the last two rounds to be sure and reverted back to some bad technical habits and lost the discipline in my shape a bit. Buddy’s a real perfectionist technique wise – I think he brings good balance to my other attributes. If Buddy had trained me for the Sturm fight I think I would have stopped him or won a shut out. I fell short last night, but I’ll be back and will be world champion.”
Martinez, who rises to 49-2-2 (28), suffered a flash knockdown in the seventh after taking a right hand when square on, “Maravilla” told his vanquished challenger that he can come again and will win a middleweight title down the line.
“He said it was by far the toughest fight of his middleweight reign,” said Macklin, 28-4 (19), as talked turned to the division’s standout fighter. “He said I was one of his toughest ever opponents and that I’m definitely the next best middleweight in the world.”
With Martinez now eyeing Floyd Mayweather sometime down the line, Sturm struggling to recapture past form and one or two question marks still hanging over WBC ‘regular’ title-holder Julio Cesar Chavez, Macklin still has time to fulfill his dream of ascending to the middleweight throne.
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