Middleweight Matthew Macklin (26-2, 18 KOs) defeated Uruguay’s Rafael Sosa Pintos (34-5, 14 KOs) by points decision at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday night to put himself on the cusp of a world title tilt next year.

Macklin dominated his game opponent, dishing out huge punishment over the ten rounds, and flooring his foe in the second, fifth and ninth rounds.

However, Pintos got back up each time and bravely fought on. Macklin stormed out in the opening five rounds, using right and left hooks to the body to get around the tight defense of his opponent. 

In the sixth and seventh he took a breather, but still pipped the rounds, before a strong final three stanzas punctuated an emphatic win. Referee Emile Tiedt scored the fight 99-88 to the former hurler.

After the fight Macklin’s promoter, Ricky Hatton, who sounded like he had enjoyed some Irish hospitality, said he would give up his promoter’s license if he couldn’t deliver a world title shot for Macklin in 2010.

But what is it that the Brummie Irishman covets the most? During fight week, Macklin described his fantasy match up.

"My dream would be to face (Kelly) Pavlik at Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick's Day," he said. 

Macklin will travel to Ohio on December 19 to see Pavlik defend his WBO/WBC titles against Miguel Espino and “make some noise.”

Macklin hurt knuckles on both hands and got a slight cut on his left eye that, but his confidence is sky high right now and he is very much looking forward to future battles.

He faces a mandatory defense of his European middleweight title against Russian Dmitry Pirog, but if manager Brian Peters and promoter Ricky Hatton could make a deal for a world title shot, the 27-year-old could relinquish his European belt and go for the big one.

New York-based Limerick middleweight Andy Lee (20-1, 14kos) was color commentating the fight for RTE, and when he was asked directly if he would be prepared to take on Macklin, he replied, “If I ever fought Matthew, and it is possible it might happen, it would be the biggest fight of my life. I would have to box the best fight of my life to beat him.

“It is something I want. I want to fight him. If it was down to me and him I think we would fight in the summer, but there are a lot of external factors like contracts and where the fight would be. But it is something that is on the horizon, and it is something that we are both up for.”

For now, Macklin -- who tko’ed Wayne Elcock in three rounds in March for the British middleweight title and tko’ed Amin Asikainen in one round in September for the European title -- has 10 good rounds of action under him as he prepares for a 2010 full of promising opportunities.

Meanwhile, John Duddy (27-1, 17 KOs) is in the gym preparing for his January 23 fight against Juan Astorga (14-3-1, 9 KOs), and while managerial advisor Craig Hamilton described the January fight as one that would keep him “ready,” what the Derry middleweight will be keeping himself ready for is another question.

For some months the fighter whose name keeps coming up as a major opponent for the Derry fighter has been Mexican middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (41-0-1, 30 KOs).

However, despite both camps declaring a strong interest in the matchup, the news that Chavez, Jr. tested positive for the diuretic Furosemide after his recent November 15 fight against Troy Rowland in Las Vegas might have thrown all these plans out the window.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission is looking into the matter, and if found guilty, then Chavez’ win would be changed to a no decision, he could he suspended for nine months and he could be hit with a $100,000 fine.

Though Hamilton told the Irish Voice last week that they had several tentative options, if Chavez, Jr. is suspended, how much of a re-evaluation for 2010 will clan Duddy have to make?

In other news, Maureen Shea’s dreams of a world title were scuppered outside the ring when her opponent for the interim WBA super bantamweight title, Jenna Shriver, failed an MRI during her medical and was declared unfit for last Thursday’s fight.

Finally, Mayo light heavyweight Michael Sweeney (8-0,5 KOs) is slated to fight in Chiapas, Mexico on December 19 on the undercard of the IBF featherweight title fight between Cristobal Cruz and Ricardo Castillo. An opponent for the Irishman has yet to be confirmed.