By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — You couldn’t blame Matthew Macklin if he felt as though he had to knock out Sergio Martinez to win their middleweight title fight.
But even coming off a controversial loss to Felix Sturm in his last bout, the Irish contender said he won’t worry if his fight against the favored Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs) goes to the scorecards Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden (HBO; 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). The 29-year-old Macklin, of Birmingham, England, considers himself the adopted hometown fighter against Martinez, a native of Argentina who resides in Oxnard, Calif.
“If anything, I feel like Sergio should feel like the one who’s fighting in Germany, because we’re in New York, it’s Paddy’s Day and I’m living here now,” said Macklin, who trained for 10 weeks in Manhattan for the Martinez fight. “So I’m not worried about bad decisions or anything like that.”
A capacity crowd of nearly 5,000 is expected to heavily favor Macklin on St. Patrick’s Day, which will make for a much more comfortable environment than he experienced during his last fight. Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs) traveled to Cologne, Germany, Sturm’s hometown, to fight for Sturm’s WBA middleweight title on June 25.
Macklin seemingly did more than enough to win, but he lost a 12-round split decision. One judge, Levi Martinez, scored Macklin a 115-113 winner, while the other two judges, Roberto Ramirez Sr. and Jose Martinez, scored the fight 116-112 for Sturm (36-2-2, 15 KOs).
“There’s no quit in this guy whatsoever,” said Lou DiBella, who promotes Macklin and Martinez. “He went to Germany and he just got robbed. He beat the [heck] out of Felix Sturm, should’ve left with a world title and instead left disappointed.
“But what I was impressed by was that he left with his head held really high. He was partying the night after that fight. He was partying because he knew he won. And he’s getting this opportunity because he did win. I thank [HBO Sports executives] Ken Hershman and Kery Davis for understanding that he did win and that he earned the chance to fight the best middleweight in the world. That’s why this fight is happening.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.