Felix Sturm-Matthew Macklin This Saturday: Can Macklin Score An Away Win?

By James Slater: David Haye is not the only British fighter soon to head into an ultra-dangerous and highly risky fight in Germany that will contest a major world title. This Saturday night in Cologne, Germany, 29-year-old Birmingham native Matthew Macklin will challenge WBA middleweight champ Felix Sturm.

As with Haye, Macklin will enter the fight as a considerable underdog, if not in the eyes of the bookmakers, then certainly in the eyes of most fans. Not only will Sturm be fighting at home, not only has the defending champion faced a higher level of competition in his career, but Sturm is a very effective fighter who has only ever been emphatically beaten once (forget the famous points loss to Oscar De La Hoya; Sturm’s only true loss came against Javier Castillejo in 2006 - this loss subsequently avenged).

So two-time European champ Macklin, 28-2(19) has some task ahead of him. Will the challenger cope with Sturm’s commanding left jab? Will Macklin be able to penetrate Sturm’s solid defence? Will Macklin mark up as he has in a number of his fights? One thing that will be on Macklin’s side is his sheer hunger and desire. Having been made to wait for his first crack at a world title for a very long time, Macklin - who has never lost to a middleweight - can be relied upon to give his all on Saturday.

And though Macklin has had a long and quite gruelling pro career of his own, 32-year-old Sturm has had a number of tough, draining fights. Maybe the timing is just right for Macklin here. The warrior known as “Mack The Knife” sure sounds confident ahead of his big chance - as he told me in person recently.

“I think Sturm is very beatable,” Macklin said. “ He’s very good, a technical boxer, sharp, with a lovely jab and a tight defence - but he isn’t a big puncher and I don’t think he’s the most physically strong fighter. I fancy this fight with Sturm big time, and I don’t mind going to Germany.”

Some good points by Macklin to be sure, but Sturm looked fresh and strong in his last fight, when he had too much power and experience for a game Ronald Hearns. Felix’ right hand looked as powerful as ever, and his tactics - of stalking and covering up, then letting his hands go - worked a treat.

As good as Sturm’s chin is (just that 10th-round TKO loss to Castillejo), it’s unlikely Macklin will be able to score a KO in the fight. So how can he win then? A points win will only come for Macklin if he thoroughly dominates Sturm and leaves no doubt in the minds of the three judges. And on his best night Macklin is a terrific aggression fighter with a great engine and a very fast work-rate. Macklin will have to box his best-ever fight, as he comes relentlessly forward and bullies the champion.

Macklin has a solid chin himself, and Sturm is no lethal hitter even if he has respectable power (15 KO’s from his 35 wins). Therefore unless he gets banged up and cut, Macklin figures to go the distance. Sturm can start slowly in fights, as he can take rounds off. Macklin must fight hard for every minute of every round. If he can do this, and as long as he is not caught by any silly punches, he can pound out a close, exciting-to-watch upset victory.

I see a definite distance fight either way, and a draw would not be a huge surprise.

Article posted on 20.06.2011

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