It took Matthew Macklin (29) nearly ten years of fighting professionally before he finally got his first shot at a world title. Before he stepped in to the ring against WBA super-middleweight world champion Felix Sturm (33) last July, many boxing writers felt that he would fall short and his one shot at a world title would be gone.
After a gripping twelve round war in Cologne, Germany, all but the sternest Sturm supporters felt they had been proven wrong. All that remained was for the cards to be tallied and Macklin’s hand would be raised. That’s not how things worked out and instead the champion was awarded, what can only be described as, a very generous home decision.
There was outcry in the aftermath at how he had been robbed but this is not an unusual occurence in Germany. In 2003 Robin Reid beat Sven Ottke over twelve rounds but he was denied the WBA and IBF titles by some horribly biased adjudicating. Ottke was the recipient of many a favourable decision throughout his career and explains why he never fought outside of Germany and remained unbeaten.
Macklin may not have come away with the belt but he came away with a reputation of someone who can mix it at the top level. Something he was rarely referred to as beforehand. After the fight Macklin was rumoured to have been offered a rematch with Sturm but instead he decided to take on middleweight supremo Sergio Gabriel Martinez (37). In Madison Square Garden. On St Patrick’s Day.
The Birmingham born fighter spent much of his formative years in Ireland and is fiercely proud of his heritage. Anyone who knows anything about boxing is aware of the significance of fighting in the Garden. This is a dream opportunity for Macklin and one which he never would have been afforded before losing to Sturm. He put in a title winning performance that night and has been duly rewarded.
Martinez is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and Macklin has a massive task on his hands to wrestle the belt from around his waist but if he fights like he did against Sturm then he has a shot. Martinez is 37-years of age and didn’t impress in his last outing against former European title holder Darren Barker.
There will be a large and vociferous Irish contingent inside Madison Square Garden and they’ll be cheering Macklin on from the first bell to the last. This time he’s going to feel like the home fighter and if it goes to a decision he may get the nod on some of the closer rounds. We’re offering money back if he wins and though 11/2 is the price of an underdog in pugilism, this time round he’s being given a better chance of an upset by the experts. If Macklin is to finally have his day, what better day to have it on?