Middleweight Matthew Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs) will fight Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs) on St. Patrick’s Day at the WaMu Theater in Madison Square Garden in a contest scheduled for 12 rounds. The fight will be televised on HBO at 10 p.m., EST.
Macklin has a straightforward strategy planned to topple Martinez.
"I'm going to war right from round one, and I have the youth, strength, size and desire to walk through anything Sergio has,” he said Monday night.
“I will go through walls on St. Patrick's Day to win this fight, and I'll set a pace from the very first bell that Sergio won't be able to cope with."
The former Tipperary underage hurler cannot wait to begin battle on the biggest day of the Irish calendar at the Mecca of boxing.
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"It's the stuff dreams are made of, really, to headline a massive fight in the most famous sporting venue in the world on St. Patrick's Day. I couldn't ask for a better script and a better stage to beat a pound for pound star,” Macklin said.
Though Martinez is widely recognized as the best middleweight in the world, there will be no sanctioned belt on the line on St. Patrick’s night.
Martinez recently vacated his WBC Diamond title after he could not secure a fight with “regular“ champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
Martinez has vowed not to fight for the WBC again, and said he would continue to defend his Ring magazine title.
“He (Martinez) will defend the mantle of the best middleweight in the world,” promoter Lou DiBella told the Irish Voice on Monday.
“He will defend the mantle against the best available opposition, and that is Matthew Macklin.”
Tomas Rohan, matchmaker for Brian Peters (who manages Macklin), said the lack of a belt was not causing their man any undue concern.
“As far as Matt's concerned he's getting the fight he's wanted, in the Garden on St. Patrick's Day in a big HBO fight. If all goes to plan and Matthew beats Sergio, then I don't think he will need a belt around his waist for people to recognize him as the best middleweight in the world,” Rohan said.
DiBella is adamant the pairing of the Argentinean against the Irishman from Birmingham will be the best party to whet any appetite on St. Patrick’s night.
"The fans are going to be the big winners here. There is no way in the world that this isn't going to be a good fight,” he said.
DiBella pointed to the style matchup between Martinez, a small, fast middleweight with abundant skills and abilities, versus Macklin, a big middleweight with good stamina and a relentless work rate as good reason why boxing fans should show up to the Garden or tune in to HBO on March 17.
Buddy McGirt will train Macklin for the fight. Macklin was under the tutelage of Joe Gallagher most recently, but Macklin and McGirt worked together before when the 29-year-old fought twice in the U.S. in 2005.
“Joe (Gallagher) has commitments to a lot of fighters in the U.K., so the change is down to the basic logistics really rather than anything else,” said Rohan, who added that the good working relationship enjoyed by McGirt and Macklin a few years back made the reunion a good fit.
“He (Macklin) had his first day with Buddy today (Monday). They will be working out of the Trinity Gym in the Financial District,” added Rohan. “They will be there from now until the fight.”
Macklin, who is ranked sixth by the WBO, third by the WBC and fifth by the WBA, is happy to be back with McGirt.
"I had a lot of success with Joe Gallagher and he's a good trainer, but when I made the decision to sign with Lou, I felt it was important to move to New York to build a fan base over here. Buddy is a native New Yorker, an excellent trainer, and we worked together a couple of years ago for a few fights so I'm very comfortable with him,” Macklin said.
Both fighters in the main event will meet the media to announce the fight at a press conference Wednesday, January 11 in midtown Manhattan. Andy Lee (27-1, 19 KOs), who is fighting in the televised co-feature, will also be in attendance.
DiBella, who promotes all three fighters, admitted that Co. Limerick native badly wanted to fight Martinez himself.
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"Andy is disappointed that he did not get this fight," he said. "Andy wanted this fight and ultimately I left it up to the network (HBO)."
DiBella went on to explain that it was Macklin's greater experience and outstanding performance in Germany last summer against WBA champion Felix Sturm that turned the tide in his favor.
Most neutral observers of that fight had Macklin the clear winner, but two of the three judges on duty in Cologne scored the fight for Sturm, who won a split decision.
"Macklin got robbed (in Germany), and this is the moment for Matthew," he added.
Though he understands Lee's obvious frustration, DiBella stressed that if the 27-year-old keeps on performing then he will get the huge title fight he craves in 2012.
At presstime, DiBella had not confirmed an opponent for Lee, but he said that if the announcement was not made at the press conference Wednesday, it would follow in the days afterwards.
Lee, who mentioned in a radio interview with Newstalk in Dublin over the weekend that Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin (26-0, 20 KOs) could be the man in the other corner, will fight a 10-rounder on the night itself.
The undercard will also have a huge Irish flavor to it. DiBella has earmarked Irish Americans Danny O'Connor and Seanie Monaghan for fights, and said he would be working with Peters and Eddie Hearn to see what other Irish fighters could make an appearance on the night. Tickets for the
acklin/Martinez fight are available at www.ticketmaster.com.
Speaking of the 11-0 Monaghan, the Long Island light heavyweight is back in action on January 21 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York against Billy Bailey (11-13, 4 KOs) in a six rounder, according to boxrec.com.
The card will also feature heavyweight Tom Hardwick (3-0), who is in against Richard Mason (0-3) in a four-rounder and light welterweight Danny McDermott (9-3-1, 4 KOs) who is slated to fight Terry Buterbaugh (6-6, 3 KOs) in a six-round contest. More on the trio’s preparations in next week’s issue.