MATTHEW MACKLIN BELIEVES that he can usher in a new era for boxing’s middleweight division when he goes toe-to-toe with Sergio Martinez in Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.
The “Tipp Tornado” faces the biggest test of his career when he steps into the ring against Martinez, regarded alongside Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters.
The Argentinian southpaw has only lost twice in 52 fights as a professional but a fearless Macklin warned that at 37, Martinez’s aging legs will now have to stand up to the toughest test they have ever faced.
“Since I started boxing on St. Patrick’s Day in 1994 at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham, I always believed that I could go all the way in this sport.
“On Saturday, it will be 18 years to that day when I step into the ring against Sergio Martinez who is not only the best middleweight in the world but one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
With regard to Sergio, there really is nothing bad to say and it’s not my style to trash talk anyway but every dog has his day. He is 37 years old now and on Saturday night, he’s going to feel every single day of those 37 years and there will be a new middleweight champion.
Although Martinez no longer holds any of the titles sanctioned by boxing’s big three — the WBO, the WBC and WBA — he is regarded as the middleweight’s “real world champion” by most, including the man who is hoping to beat him tomorrow night.
After missing out on the WBA belt in a controversial split decision against Felix Sturm last summer, Macklin knows that a scalp against the decorated veteran will establish him as one of the division’s top dogs.
“It’s been a long road to get here, I’ve won everything along the way, the Irish middleweight title, the British middleweight title, the European Championship twice and should have added the WBA World Championship to that only to get stiffed out in Germany to Felix Sturm on a horrible decision.
However I’m here now and sometimes things happen for a reason. Sergio’s the lineal middleweight champion and the real world champion, he’s universally regarded as the number one in the division and if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.
“I’m very honored to be fighting at Madison Square Garden, such an iconic venue and I’ll be even prouder to win my first world title here.”
Martinez’s trainer Pablo Sarmiento feels that Macklin will do well to last until the final bell. ”We’ve worked very hard for this fight and Sergio improves with every fight even more. I have no doubt that he will finish this fight inside the distance.”
Coverage of Matthew Macklin v Sergio Martinez begins on Sky Sports at midnight Saturday night / Sunday morning.