Tuesday 28 January 2020

Macklin to let 'Seamus and Paddy' do the talking

Bernard O'Neill

MATTHEW MACKLIN won't reach the final bell in the WBC Middleweight fight at Madison Square Garden tonight, according to Sergio Martinez's coach, Pablo Sarmiento.

Inking a contract to fight an Irishman in the Big Apple on St Patrick's Day in front of thousands of Irish fans is a risk. However, Sarmiento reckons that 37-year-old southpaw Martinez, a veteran of 52 fights, 48 of which he has won, is going to rain on Macklin's parade.

"I've worked very hard with Sergio for this fight. Every fight he improves and I have no doubt that he will finish this before the distance. I want everybody to see the real No 1 middleweight champion," he said.

The wheel has turned almost full circle for 29-year-old Birmingham-born Macklin, as he had his first boxing match on St Patrick's Day at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham in 1994. Fast-forward 18 years and he's fighting for a world title at the most iconic boxing venue in the world, having left Cologne last year on the wrong end of a controversial split decision to Felix Sturm for the WBA title.

Macklin has put that disputed loss behind him and intends to make the most of a second opportunity to adorn his waist with a major belt.

"The only Irishmen I'll need Saturday night are Seamus (left fist) and Paddy (right fist). It's been a long road to get here," said Macklin, who has won 28 of his 31 fights. Everything happens for a reason and I'm here now. Sergio is a real middleweight champion and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, so I'll be really proud when I beat him.

"I've trained 10 weeks in Manhattan and had world-class sparring. I'm ready."

Macklin's coach, Buddy McGirt, is a former two-weight world champion and needs no introduction to Madison Square Garden.

"It's good to be home. I fought here over 25 times and there's no fighter dead or alive who can say that," he said. "It's a pleasure working with Matthew. We're going to have a great fight and Matthew will be leaving the building as the new middleweight champion of the world."

Macklin v Martinez,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 12.0 midnight

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