Martinez-Macklin: Can Matthew Pull It Off On Saturday?

boxingBy James Slater - The REAL middleweight championship of the world will be contested this Saturday night inside New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden. Whatever any fighter, from Julio Cesar Chavez Junior to Felix Sturm or any of the other alphabelt champs at 160-pounds may say, Sergio Gabriel Martinez is the true middleweight king, and he will be giving British warrior Matthew Macklin a shot at the crown greats such as Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon and Sugar Ray Leonard once held.

29-year-old Macklin, 28-3(19) is well and truly up against it in this fight, however. Argentine southpaw Martinez looks to be in absolutely magnificent physical condition and he is a big betting favourite to win, and win in style, in two days time. Age seems to be the only factor on the challenger’s side. Macklin is hugely hungry and motivated, yet Martinez, though he craves the mega-fights, does not seem to have taken any shortcuts going into this fight; and his sheer professionalism and desire to be a great will see to it that he keeps on winning. This is what most experts think anyway..

Macklin proved his is world class with his debatable points loss to the aforementioned Sturm, and he said a while ago that he feels he has the beating of “Maravilla.” When looking at Macklin’s record, though, it’s apparent he has never met anyone approaching Martinez’s quality, power, fitness and speed. In fact, the Sturm loss aside, Macklin has operated only at British and European level.

Wins over good men Ruben Varon (W12), Amin Asikainen (KO1 - arguably Matthew’s finest win to date) Yuri Boy Campas (W10) and Wayne Elcock (TKO3) are fine, but Martinez is head and shoulders above all of these fighters. Possibly even a future all-time great, 37-year-old Martinez certainly has that special look the great ones have.

What can Macklin do to win against the odds?

Tonight on Sky Sport’s Ringside, two middleweights who are qualified to speak on Saturday’s fight gave their take on “Mack The Knife’s” chances. Sturm and former Martinez KO victim Darren Barker are both impressed with Martinez’s class and skill: Barker saying the middleweight king’s speed and “razor-sharpness” are his biggest assets. “If he can get inside, he’s got a chance,” Barker said of Macklin. Sturm also said Macklin has a chance, “if he fights smart and has a good game-plan.”

“He can’t fight Martinez the way he fought me,” Sturm said. “He can’t fight him; he must box him.”

But Macklin, as gutsy as they come (who will ever forget his classic 154-pound war with fellow Brit, southpaw Jamie Moore?) has made a habit of fighting one way: by going to war and making the fight a battle of attrition. Trainer Buddy McGirt will have come up with a game-plan to surprise Martinez, no doubt, but once the action becomes heated, Macklin will very possibly revert to his usual self and try to rumble with the champ. And even if Macklin does not struggle with Martinez’s stance, this could prove costly.

Macklin will give it his all, he will be willing to leave absolutely nothing in the ring and he WILL make Martinez fight hard. But I fear Macklin’s heart, his passion and his penchant for getting involved in a tear-up will suit Martinez, 48-2-2(27) all too well. Unless he can somehow dazzle and surprise the older man with his somewhat underrated boxing skills (Barker says Macklin has a fine boxing brain, but that it is rarely seen), Macklin looks destined to go down blazing in the later rounds.

The action will be great to watch and Macklin will likely win himself ever more fans with his effort. But the Birmingham man will not win the world championship.

Look for Martinez to score a highlight reel KO somewhere in the second half of the fight. I think the 8th-round.

Article posted on 16.03.2012

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