By Terence Dooley
Matthew Macklin’s stock rose in June after a contentious decision defeat to WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm over in Germany. ‘Mack The Knife’ got stuck into the titlist early, harrying Sturm in every round before losing a 115-113, 112-116, twice, split decision that was condemned by many within the trade.
The 29-year-old used the momentum from the Sturm storm to net a deal with American promoter Lou Dibella. Macklin also believes that the contest raised his game to a new level, arguing that the experience holds him in good stead.
“You come on as a fighter,” he mused as he recalled the narrow defeat. “It is sometimes better to come close to winning something before you actually win it. Some teams learn from cup final defeats and come back the next year. My stock soared, I proved myself and showed there were reasons why I was underperforming in other fights.”
Defeat negated the contracted rematch clause. Sturm, though, tried to railroad the beaten challenger into a return by announcing a second fight days after the June 25th meeting. Proof in Macklin’s mind that the Germany-based boxer was embarrassed by the furore surrounding his win and a sign that his own profile had risen enough to secure a deal with DiBella, who handles consensus kingpin Serio Martinez.
“I will fight before Christmas,” said the 28-3 (19) fighter when asked about his first outing under DiBella Entertainment’s banner. “They expect Martinez to beat Barker, the thinking is me and Martinez on St Patrick’s Day next year at Madison Square Gardens. You can’t turn that down.”
Sturm now meets WBA International belt holder Martin Murray on December 2nd in a move which confirmed Macklin’s suspicion that ‘Leonidas’ is content to tread water in front of his baying German fans.
“Sturm offered me shocking terms. It led me to believe that he didn’t want the rematch, he promotes himself and controls the pot so it is an easy fight for him to make if he really wanted to make it. If he doesn’t want the rematch with me now then the reality is that he’ll fight guys like Martin Murray,” his thoughts on Sturm’s latest defence.
“No disrespect to Martin – he’s a decent fighter at a certain level – but where’s he in the world, top twenty or thirty? Forget his WBA number three ranking, he’s their Inter-Continental champion, his promoter pays sanctioning fees for him to win and defend that belt, that gets you in the top ten but is he genuinely top ten, I don’t think so.”
However, a win for Murray could work in Macklin’s favour. Martin has called for an all-British clash with either Macklin or Darren Barker; a WBA title triupmh for the St. Helens man would put him on the Birmingham boxer’s radar. “If he wins then happy days. I’m his first defence because who else can he fight?” asked Macklin.
As for Martinez, ‘Maravilla’ has a bout against Barnet’s Barker on his plate. The two meet at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall venue later tonight. Macklin feels that ‘Dazzling’ Darren is taking a huge step up in class.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Barker got done early but I don’t think that will happen. He’ll have a go but I think Martinez could end it about the sixth or seventh round,” his prediction.
Sky Sports 1 and HD1 televise Martinez-Barker from 2.30pm tonight.
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