Matthew Macklin warns Sergio Martinez: The Irish are coming!

13 Jan

Alan Dawson – London

Former world title challenger Matthew Macklin has a message for St Patrick’s Day opponent and lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez – “the Irish are coming!” Macklin, 29, attempts to unseat Martinez from his throne in the 160lb weight class on March 17 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and is calling on Irish fans from all over the world to support him at the ground dubbed; The World’s Most Famous Arena.

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Mack the Knife on the podium. Credit: Ed Diller/ DBE

Prior to 2011, Macklin – a former Irish, British and European champion – had fought predominantly on the domestic and continental circuit. One fight last summer, though, propelled him into international stardom as he took on long-reigning Super WBA middleweight titlist Felix Sturm in Cologne, Germany.

Macklin (28-3-0, 19ko) took the fight to Sturm, fought constantly from the opening minute to the last and was largely expected to receive a deserved decision victory on points, however, on all three judges’ scorecards he was on the losing side.

Despite the controversial defeat, Macklin had made a name for himself and the performance itself was perceived – by Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment – to be worthy of adding him to his own stable of fighters and matching the England-born Irishman with his premier boxer; Maravilla Martinez (48-2-2, 27ko).

“As I have done throughout my entire career I will go up a notch for this fight,” said Macklin this week. “Sergio is going to bring the best out of me and I am very confident in my mind that I will be the new middleweight champion come March 17.

He continued: “Fighting at The Garden on St Patty’s Day – it’s going to be like I’m fighting in Dublin. The Irish are coming from all over the world to see this [and] the atmosphere is going to be electric!

“It is an honour to have the opportunity to fight here at MSG where so many great fights have taken place. I am proud and privileged to be a part of this great tradition.”

Providing the co-support to Macklin and Martinez’s main event is technically-savvy Andy Lee, a product of Emanuel Steward’s renowned Kronk Gym set-up in Detroit and, like Macklin, a pugilist cut from Irish cloth. Lee is a fast-rising contender in the middleweight division and enjoyed a breakout 2011 as he stopped Craig McEwan in a thrilling Celtic War in March, won a one-sided decision over tough journeyman Alex Bunema in May, before avenging his only defeat by boxing smart and overseeing Brian Vera with ease in October.

On the St Patrick’s Day undercard, Lee (27-1-0, 19ko) is currently without an opponent, but has the fists and experience to compete for a world title later in the year – something promised to him by promoter DiBella. “I want to thank Lou for letting me showcase myself on this show,” Lee said.

“There is nothing more I can wish for then to have this opportunity to fight at MSG on St Patrick’s Day. I consider myself as a serious contender and I hope to get my title shot in 2012. I’m not sure who my opponent is going to be yet, but I promise you a good St. Patty’s Day beating.”

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