Matthew Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs) put his name right back in the middleweight contender mix with a unanimous decision win over Lamar Russ (14-1, 7 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday night.
The Irishman from Birmingham made a winning debut with new trainer Jamie Moore, but it was events in Germany a few hours before his fight that may be of bigger importance to his career.
Felix Sturm stopped IBF belt holder Darren Barker in the second round of their fight in Stuggart to become middleweight champion for the fourth time. With Sturm champion again, Macklin feels he is ready for a fourth tilt at a world title. Macklin believes the pair has unfinished business after he lost a highly controversial decision to the Bosnian-German in June 2011.
“I’d love the Sturm rematch now. I mean, I beat him clearly in Germany in 2011. There was talk from him about giving me a rematch, but he never fancied it and therefore it never materialized,” Macklin told the Irish Voice on Monday.
“But it’s a huge fight and hopefully he has the balls to give me the rematch to the fight I really won in the first place!”
Macklin’s promoter, Lou DiBella, was also up for his fighter getting another shot at Sturm and said they would be more than willing to go back to the lion’s den again to do it.
“He’ll go to Germany. He’ll go where he needs to go,” DiBella told Badlefthook.com after the fight at the weekend. “He beat him once in Germany, he can beat him again.”
Macklin’s performance in Atlantic City last weekend was no show-stopper, but he used his experience to impose his will on the fight, and that was enough to out-work and out-punch his opponent.
It was as if Russ, who absorbed Macklin’s best shots well and left the Irishman’s face marked from his own punches, lacked the belief to really go for the win. Macklin seemed to sense that trepidation in his opponent and used it to dominate the fight.
Macklin was keen to make an impression on the night, but some of his lunges were like that of a man trying too hard. However, when he let his hands go, his jab to the body/overhand right combination did connect on Russ, who enjoyed a several-inch height advantage over Macklin.
“I think I started a bit too quick. [I was] probably too eager for the KO after rocking his head back a few times, but I’m glad I got the 10 rounds, and they will definitely stand to me going into 2014,” added Macklin.
After the final bell, the judges scored the fight 96-94, 97-93 and 98-92 in Macklin’s favor, and he has now gone from a man in the last chance saloon to a fighter with options.
If the fight with Sturm does not happen, then Andy Lee has often said that he is more than ready to step in the ring with Macklin, who confirmed that Lee was the next man he wanted if the Sturm rematch couldn’t be made.
Either way, Macklin can enjoy the holiday season safe in the knowledge that the New Year holds plenty of potentially lucrative fights.
Meanwhile, lightweight Jamie Kavanagh (15-0-1, 10 KOs) will fight in Cancun, Mexico, this Saturday night in a contest scheduled for 10 rounds. At presstime, it looks like it looks like the 23-year-old will fight Daniel Ruiz (31-7-1, 21 KOs).
The Spanish-speaking Dubliner, who is based in Indio, California, is trained by Joel Diaz, and is looking forward to getting back into the squared circle. He was last in action in August when he defeated Antonio Meza by first round knockout. This will be the second time he fights in Mexico.
“I can’t wait for the day to arrive and then fight night. I head to Cancun on Thursday and the weigh-in is on Friday, so this week should fly,” Kavanagh told the Irish Voice on Monday.
“I had a forearm problem during camp and took a day off sparring, but it’s fine now, nothing to worry about. We got the right number of rounds in, and I am feeling fit and strong.”
Finally, Henry Coyle was in action over the weekend and notched up his 19th victory as a professional when he defeated Skyler Thompson by unanimous decision at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on Saturday night. The judges scored the fight 60-53, and 59-54, twice, in his favor. He now moves to 19-2, 12 KOs.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore