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Macklin tops huge Warren fight bill

PAYING customers had better bring their sleeping bags to the LG Birmingham Arena on September 18 -- it's going to be a long, long night.

The Frank Warren promotion features a world title eliminator, three European title fights, two British title bouts, plus minor championship contests for two 2008 Olympians. Phew!

Topping the bill is Matthew Macklin, born in Birmingham to Irish parents, in a challenge to Darren Barker for the European, Commonwealth and British middleweight titles.

"Birmingham has always been a special place to fight and I know the fans will get right behind me," said Macklin, a former Irish champion.

"I want that European title badly, but I also want a world title shot. If I lose this one, I won't be getting a world title any time soon."

Warren is certainly to be commended for his value-for-money presentation, but I have to wonder is it too much? How many customers will bother to watch the whole show, or even a major portion of it?

When I first started watching live boxing in London in the early 1960s, having paid my couple of quid for a seat way up in the top tiers, it was customary for fans to arrive early, watch every fight, and leave late, even at the risk of missing the last bus or tube train.

Today's customers are of a different breed. Most prefer to stay in the bar and only emerge for the main event. Once that's over, it's back to the bar. Watch some of the supporting bouts on a televised show and you can't fail to notice the row after row of empty seats.

I suppose promoters like Frank Warren will say that's not their concern. They are providing the fights and it's up to the paying customers to please themselves what they watch or don't watch.

But it means there's a sad lack of atmosphere for much of the programme.

Promoters don't like to disclose what they pay fighters, but this show must be costing Warren a packet.

As well as Macklin v Barker, there's European light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly in a world title eliminator against unbeaten German Karo Murat.

Enzo Maccarinelli and Ryan Rhodes will defend their European cruiserweight and light-middleweight titles, respectively, and there's a British and Commonwealth heavyweight clash between Derek Chisora and Sam Sexton.

The long-awaited welterweight showdown between Kell Brook and Michael Jennings will double as a WBO title eliminator.

Frankie Gavin, the 2007 amateur world champion, and James DeGale, who beat our Darren Sutherland in the 2008 Olympics, will take part in bouts for minor titles. Rounding off the show, Don Broadhurst will feature in an English title fight.

"I'm delighted to be putting on a card like this," said Warren. "It's one of the most ambitious I have done in 30 years of promoting boxing. I always try to please the fans and I think they will like this one."

  • Sky will transmit the main bouts on its pay-per-view channel, Sky Box Office.