by Cliff Rold
It’s going to be a hell of a St. Paddy’s Day party.
With the arena likely awash in green, Madison Square Garden will play host to an intriguing clash for the Middleweight Championship of the World. The Argentine champion accepts the challenge of a game Irishman…
…and it’s flying under the radar. That makes some sense. The champ has yet to become a “The Star.” The challenger is known far more overseas.
The action in the ring will determine what impressions are left at night’s end. It’s just one of five televised shows with Telemundo and Telefutura on tap Friday and Saturday (check local listings). The following are the three best of them.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez vs. #4 Matthew Macklin (Saturday, HBO, 10 PM EST/PST)
Sometimes, losing is winning. If Matthew Macklin (28-3, 19 KO) had received the decision many felt he deserved last June for the WBA Middleweight belt, this might have been a unification match. It also might not have happened. Macklin, ethnic Irish, could have gone to the Emerald Isle or to the U.K., getting paid and racking up defenses. Instead, Felix Strum escaped and Macklin gets the chance to face the very best 160 lbs. has to offer. He hasn’t truly been beaten since a stoppage loss to Jamie Moore in an excellent 2006 encounter. Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KO) is a step and more up from Moore. Finding his best stuff in his mid-30s, Martinez’s monster roll slowed just a bit in his last defense last October. Despite a knockout win, he didn’t look the terror he had. Macklin is a step up from Barker for sure, and is sure to bring it. The pressuring Macklin doesn’t know another way. The crowd could be the real star before it’s all over. For as long as it lasts, one or this should be fun.
Pick Deuce: Kendall Holt vs. Tim Coleman (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
ESPN2 has a nice clash of careers this week. Holt (27-5, 15 KO) is a former 140 lb. titlist coming off a loss in his last tough outing. Danny Garcia got by and three fights before that Kazier Mabuza forced a corner retirement. He needs a win to stay relevant. Coleman (19-2-1, 5 KO) also comes in off a loss. Vernon Paris stopped him his last out and Paris is headed towards a Zab Judah clash. Victory has its rewards. Both men need victory in a bad way. This should be a nice little showdown.
Pick Sho: Omar Figueroa vs. Ramon Ayala (Friday, Showtime, 11 PM EST/PST)
After Holt-Coleman rolls to SportsCenter, ShoBox gives us one of the most promising Lightweights in the world. Figueroa (14-0-1, 11 KO) is only 22 and coming along nicely. Ayala (23-2-1, 11 KO) enters off five straight wins. Six might be hard to come by.
Back in seven.
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Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]