Boxing: World title bid on ice for luckless Macklin
You would not be too far wrong if you felt that Matthew Macklin is one of Ireland's unluckiest boxers.
With an impressive run of nine wins since being surprisingly knocked out by Jamie Moore in a British light middleweight title fight in 2006, 'Mack the Knife' was in line for a world title fight with American Kelly Pavlik.
First, though, he was scheduled to defend his European title against Dmitry Pirog in Birmingham on April 16. The unbeaten if untested Russian pulled out with injury and an Armenian southpaw, Khoren Gevor, came in as a sub.
Then Gevor was reported as doubtful with an injury and it looked as if the title defence might be cancelled.
Meanwhile Macklin, who was training in the famous Wild Card gym in Los Angeles under one of America's foremost coaches, Freddie Roach, sustained a nose injury in training and his European defence was put off indefinitely.
Macklin has now relinquished the European belt to concentrate on the world title scene, although he is holding on to the Irish middleweight title. He is now back home in Birmingham, where he was born of Irish parents, and taking things easy until the nose injury clears up before he can even spar again.
"I'm just gutted," Macklin said yesterday. "I had been waiting six months to put my title on the line, as a win would have strengthened my world title claims but there was no point in hanging on to the title."
Roach, explaining how the injury happened, said: "Matthew was sparring with a couple of Russian guys, two brothers, when he walked into a punch that he should have avoided. But there you go. These things happen and hopefully he will be back sparring soon. I should think he will be back in Los Angeles probably around the end of April.
"I like Matthew," says Roach. "He's a good kid with lots of ability. I've had some good times times working with the likes of good Irish fighters like Steve Collins, Bernard Dunne and Wayne McCullough so hopefully I can have the same success with Matthew too.
Meanwhile, the European title situation will be clarified in London tomorrow when the unbeaten British and Commonwealth champion Darren Barker touches gloves with French southpaw Affif Belghecham, who gave Andy Lee some uncomfortable moments last November before losing the decision.
PRO boxing returns to Dublin at the City West Hotel on May 23 when Anthony Fitzgerald defends his Irish supermiddleweight title against old rival Robbie Long. The event promoters are former Irish amateur great Phil Sutcliffe and Cork businessman Don O'Leary.
Elsewhere, the Irish Boys' and Girls' Championships continue today, tomorrow and Saturday at the National Stadium in Dublin.