by Charles Jay
Here are some things to keep in mind regarding Saturday’s Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin middleweight fight at Madison Square Garden, to be televised on HBO:
While Matthew Macklin has, for all intents and purposes, been a full-fledged middleweight since early 2004, Sergio Martinez has been a middleweight through only five fights as a pro, after spending over a decade split between the welterweight and junior middleweight divisions. His opponents at this weight all had great records. Let’s take a quick look at the fighters he has beaten at that weight, using Paul Williams just once in this group, even though he’s fought him twice:
* Paul Williams 39-1
* Kelly Pavlik 36-1
* Sergiy Dzinziruk 37-0
* Darren Barker 23-0
Considering that Barker was a little tougher than expected, you can’t argue too much with that group, which had an aggregate record of 135-2 going into those fights. That doesn’t put him in a position where he should be compared with all-time greats, who flourished in eras when there was unbelievable depth in the middleweight division. Some people this week have been getting a little silly with that.
However, you can say that Martinez certainly isn’t hiding away, picking and choosing opponents in his homeland, as are a couple of the other alphabet champions. When you have fought Williams twice, you have already dealt with one of the more problematic guys in boxing.
Macklin’s last five opponents, by the way, had a record of 157-15-2 when they stepped in the ring with him.
Until he lost to Williams in December 2009, Martinez had a 28-fight unbeaten streak that lasted nine years and eight months. Macklin hasn’t been beaten since June of last year, but that’s only because he hasn’t FOUGHT since June of last year. Macklin will be an unusual challenger in that he is coming off a defeat, albeit a controversial one, as he found himself on the wrong side of a split decision to Felix Sturm in Germany, fighting for the WBA’s “Super” world middleweight title, which is not to be confused with the WBA Super Middleweight title, which is currently held by Karoly Balzsay.
Martinez’s last ten fights have been in the United States. Macklin has been in the U.S. before; he scored quick stoppages in 2005 over Leo Laudat and Anthony Little, in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, respectively.
An interesting tidbit is that Martinez, who is 37 years old and has been a pro for a little over fourteen years, was in a scheduled four-round fight as recently as four years ago. He kept busy by beating David Toribio on a four-round decision on the undercard of the Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor rematch. A couple of fights later, Martinez beat Alex Bunema for an “interim” WBC title at 154 pounds, and just three fights after that, he beat Pavlik.
Macklin has won Irish, British and European middleweight titles, while Martinez has been a champion at 154 and 160 pounds in the eyes of the WBC. He has fought 53 rounds in world title fights, and if you count his tenure as IBO junior middleweight champion, you can make that 86.
We’re trying to be as fair to him as we possibly can, but Macklin hasn’t really beaten anyone special. He’s defeated only one fighter many people in the U.S. would know, and that was Yori Boy Campos, who is still hanging in there at age 40 but was in the midst of a 1-5-1 run when he met up with Macklin in Ireland four years ago.
Macklin is British-born, but of Irish ancestry. In case you were wondering, he has never fought on St. Patrick’s Day, and neither has Martinez.