This upcoming Saturday on St. Patrick's Day, Irish middleweight Matthew Macklin is taking on Argentinian Sergio Martinez for the Ring Magazine Middleweight Championship at Madison Square Garden. Unlike most "title" fights we see these days in boxing, this one is for the legitimate title, and will be broadcast live on HBO.
In this fight, you have two guys that are definitely going to be well prepared and will be coming to fight, and whose styles could potentially produce fireworks.
Let's start with Matt Macklin, the challenger. In Macklin's last fight, a WBA title match against German champion Felix Sturm, Macklin was flat out robbed. He outworked and outfought Sturm throughout the duration of the bout. Had the fight not been in Germany, Macklin would have left with a title belt around his waist.
Against Sturm, Macklin showed that he has the ability to throw a lot of punches, and that he can keep his work rate high throughout the fight, something he'll need to do against Martinez in order to win. One thing I really like about Macklin is that he isn't afraid to go to the body, and he likes to come forward and put pressure on his opponents.
Macklin certainly isn't shy about engaging and trading, which should make for an entertaining bout for the fans come Saturday in New York.
Now for the champ, Sergio Martinez. Martinez has shown an amazing ability to peak in his mid-30's. Martinez has blazing hand speed and reflexes, and has significantly more knockout power than his record indicates. See this knockout over Paul Williams for confirmation.
I was ringside that night, when that punch landed it sounded as if a cannon had gone off, it was absolutely incredible.
Martinez has been fighting top notch competition over the last few years, and he should expect to be challenged by Macklin. If Macklin can get to the body early and keep his output around 80 punches a round, he can give Martinez some serious problems.
The only fighters Martinez has lost to are Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito, two of the highest volume punchers in recent memory, so they've laid a blueprint for Macklin to follow come fight night.
Macklin needs to neutralize Martinez's advantages in hand and foot speed by using lateral movement while simultaneously keeping the pressure on and forcing Martinez to fight off his back foot. If he can do this, he might just be able to pull off the upset.
At the end of the day, I expect Martinez's superior talent and skill to win out and I'll pick him to win a hard fought unanimous decision, call it eight rounds to four. Don't be shocked though to see Martinez tested and pushed to the limit, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the upset. I think that Macklin is being seriously underestimated and is a live underdog in this fight.
Hopefully, it'll be a great night of fights at the Garden. I know it'll be a great atmosphere there with an Irishman fighting in the heart of Manhattan on St. Patrick's day, so it'll be a fun time for the fans. Look for a better than expected, exciting fight, so be sure to tune in to HBO Saturday night.