by Charles Jay
Matthew Macklin gets the biggest opportunity of his career on Saturday night when he shares the marquee on HBO Championship Boxing at Madison Square Garden against Sergio Martinez. On the line will be the WBC Diamond middleweight title. And this represents a step in competition for the middleweight contender of Irish ancestry.
The truth is, Macklin has not beaten many fighters of note, at least as they are recognized on the world stage. He did fight tooth-and-nail with Felix Sturm, the WBA “Super” world champion, last June but won only one of the three judges’ scorecards. His performance was strong enough that it kept him in the discussion for another major opportunity, and his supporters hope that he hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew.
Many of you have seen Sergio Martinez, but it would not be a surprise if you haven’t seen Macklin yet. So what can be expected out of him?
Well, he does not bring the same style to the table as did Martinez’s last challenger, Darren Barker of the UK. Macklin is a fighter who is aggressive and comes forward. But he doesn’t stand straight up when he does it; he does seem to exhibit decent head movement, and he’ll bob up and down quite a bit on the way in. Still, he doesn’t do it in such a way that you can’t time him.
He does not look like he is all that comfortable when working on the outside. In fact, against skilled boxers he’s in a bit of a no man’s land out there. Constantly trying to get inside is okay, one would think, but Macklin does not really have the kind of jab that is going to freeze his opponent so he can work his way in. He does not snap it but rather flicks it and uses it as a range-finder.
What that means is that it is quite possible he will get caught coming in by Martinez, something that happened quite a bit against Jamie Moore (like Martinez, a southpaw), as he lost a terrific war six years ago when he got stopped in ten rounds. As you might imagine though, Macklin has made some progress since then, and against Sturm, he was able to crowd the German champion enough to build up some points.
Macklin is not above leading with his left uppercut, and that is something that could potentially lead to trouble, and it’s the right hook he may have to avoid when doing that.
He is aggressive, as we mentioned. If you allow him to out-work you (In other words, if Martinez gets lazy), he will do just that. If he gets close enough, he is going to throw left hooks and right hands to the body. In fact, that may be where he has most of his power; Macklin is not what you would consider a powerful puncher, but if he can get a man hurt, he’s not a bad finisher. He showed that a few years ago against Wayne Elcock, who came in with a 19-3 record but was dispatched in three rounds. All Macklin had to do was hurt him with one punch, and he was all over him, never giving Elcock a chance to breathe.
Of course, the problem for Macklin will be hurting Martinez in the first place.
The burden Macklin carries into this fight is that he is not the hardest guy in the world to figure out. It would be surprising if he did a lot of side-to-side movement, and so he doesn’t have a whole lot in his arsenal that is going to force Martinez to improvise. Rather, it will probably be the other way around, if Martinez is able to present a moving target to hit. Macklin has a relative lack of experience against world-class fighters, so it remains to be seen how he’ll handle it when Martinez throws him a few curve balls.
The best guess here is that you’ll see an honest effort from Macklin, but that it will fall short in the late rounds. Martinez should be able to catch him flush enough times on the way in that he’ll “chop down that tree” anywhere in Round 10 or 11.