Middleweight Matthew Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs) got his first glimpse of the big time in Madison Square Garden last Wednesday when he officially announced his Saturday, March 17 St. Patrick’s night fight with Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs) at the famous venue.
Also present was Andy Lee (27-1, 19 KOs), who was there to promote his participation in the main co-feature. Both fights will be televised on HBO.
The venue was packed with reporters eager to talk to both Irishmen about the challenges that await on St. Patrick’s Day.
Macklin had nothing but good things to say about Martinez, who is recognized as the best fighter in the world at 160 pounds, but he also promised that the Argentinean would have a tough night ahead of him.
"Sergio is going to have to be ready. I am coming forward all night and I am coming for war,” he said.
Martinez thanked Macklin for taking the challenge and is dedicating the fight to his family and those who campaign for an end to domestic violence.
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Also present at the press event was Buddy McGirt, who will train Macklin at the Trinity Gym in the Financial District for the toughest assignment of his career.
"We are going to win the fight. I don't care how it gets done. We are going to prepare for anything and everything. Sergio is a great athlete. He is a good fighter, and both guys have their hand full in this one,” the former two-time world champion told the Irish Voice.
Macklin has one trait that McGirt thinks will stand to him on fight night.
"He listens. I like guys that listen. That is the difference in a fight; it means he has faith in his corner,” he says.
Macklin's manager Brian Peters was also in attendance and is delighted that his fighter has this opportunity.
"How does it get any better? Fighting the real middleweight champion in Madison Square Garden on Paddy's Day on HBO. It ticks all the boxes," Peters said.
Peters praised the dedication of his fighter to move to the U.S. after his controversial split decision loss to WBA champion Felix Sturm last June to build a base in New York and completely dedicate himself to this fight.
While acknowledging that Martinez “is a dangerous fighter” who has some big wins over the likes of Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams, Peters feels that the confidence and commitment his man is showing will stand him in good stead.
"Everyone knows what Matthew brings; he comes at people and he is aggressive. When Matthew steps in the ring, you know he is going to give it his all,” Peters said.
For Lee, the burning question was who would be in the opposite corner come fight night. Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin (26-0, 20 KOs) was an early favorite, but it now seems that Giovanni Lorenzo (31-4) has taken over the mantle as a more likely opponent.
However, the public relations director at DiBella Entertainment, Kevin Rooney, Jr., said on Monday that no one had been confirmed as an opponent, but that “hopefully this week” something would be finalized.
Lee was hoping to be in the feature bout, but HBO decided that Macklin’s performance against Sturm last summer gave him the edge when it came to choosing an opponent for Martinez.
“There was a chance, and I am bit deflated now not to be fighting in the main event. But it is over now and I just have to deal with the situation and get ready,” Lee said Wednesday.
“If I go out and put on a good performance and knock somebody out, then there is nothing else for me to do to get a title fight. This is the year. I have talked to Lou, and he has assured me that the next fight will be a title fight or, if not, a very big fight,” he added.
In other news, the aforementioned Rooney is back in action on February 4 at Times Union Center in Albany. The 27-year-old junior middleweight will fight Stanley Harvey (1-1) in a contest scheduled for four rounds.
Rooney told the Irish Voice at last week’s press conference that he will also feature on the undercard of Macklin/Martinez at MSG on St. Patrick's Day.
Finally, the Snooki/Final Round Promotions featherweight Patrick Hyland (24-0) will fight Emmanuel Lucero (26-8-1) at the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on January 28.
The Dubliner's fight will stream online at www.behindthering.com for $9.99. Hyland’s brothers, Paul and Eddie, will both fight on the undercard.
Check out next week’s Irish Voice for a full preview.