Entering Round 11 against middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, Matthew Macklin was in the fight and slugging it out for his first world championship win. He still had a shot—as long as he stayed on his feet for the final six minutes of the fight.
Macklin went down twice in the 11th. Before the start of the 12th, as Macklin sat on the stool, the fight was waved off by his trainer. It was his second consecutive try at a middleweight world title belt and a second consecutive loss.
“This is my third shot,” Macklin told Bleacher Report. “I got robbed in Germany [against Felix Sturm], I pushed Sergio Martinez very close, and this is my third chance. I’m going to make the third time lucky. There’s no way I’ll let the opportunity slip by me this time.”
Macklin believes he’s right where he needs to be to get it done. While he appreciates WBA and IBO champion Gennady Golovkin as “a good fighter,” he’s not so sure the aura of invincibility surrounding the Kazakh boxer of Russian-Korean descent is warranted.
“Is it deserved? Who knows? That’s something the media and fans create. It’s not real. Every fighter can get beat.”
Macklin said he has watched Golovkin since both of their amateur days. He said he always thought the two would face off against each other, either as amateurs or professionals. He’s happy for it to be an important fight with a world title on the line.
So does he see any weaknesses in Golovkin?
“I wouldn’t say there are any obvious weaknesses because he hasn’t fought anyone good enough to exploit them yet,” said Macklin. “That’s probably the one weakness he has, if you want to pick on anything: his level of opposition. He’s not really ever fought any top-level guys. He’s fought some good guys but none of the best ones and certainly none of the best middleweights.”
Rightfully so, Macklin considers himself one of the best middleweights in the world, and he aims to prove it Saturday.
“He’s definitely never been hit by anyone like me. I’m the biggest puncher he’s fought, and I’ve got a good chin.”
Macklin has been down only a few times in his career. Besides being put down by Martinez twice in their March 2012 encounter, Macklin tasted the canvas against Jaime Moore in a 2006 barnburner loss in the junior middleweight division.
“That was more exhaustion than anything,” he said. “I was completely weight-drained for that fight.”
Golovkin has not hit the floor yet in his young career.
“He’s never been down, but who has he fought that you would’ve expected to put him down? No one. I’m a big puncher at 160 pounds. When he gets hit on the chin by me, he’ll know about it. Or maybe he won’t know about it; he’ll be hurt one way or another.”
Like any good slugger, Macklin expects a good tussle come Saturday. Both he and Golovkin fight in a crowd-pleasing, come-forward style, and Macklin expects real fireworks—the kind he knows fight fans want to see.
“Everyone wants to be involved in great fights, the kind of fights people get excited about,” he said. “I’m a boxer, but I am a boxing fan, too…I was always a boxing fan. Those were the kind of fights I enjoyed to watch so it’s nice to be part of a couple of them.”
He sure has. Macklin’s loss to Martinez was a war of attrition. Macklin had him down in the seventh before ultimately succumbing to boxing’s lineal middleweight kingpin at the end of the 11th. Still, Macklin believes fights like the one against Martinez and the experience he has fighting at the highest professional level of the sport will help him prevail over Golovkin.
“I’ve been there before. He hasn’t. He’s had it all his own way. Part of it is because he’s been so good, but he’s not going through his whole career without going to the well. He’ll be going to the well one way or another on Saturday, because I’m going to make him go there.”
This will be Macklin’s third consecutive bout in the United States. It has not gone unnoticed.
“I love fighting in the States,” he said. “All the big fights are over here. This is where it’s at! Over the years, I remember watching all the fights from the UK, getting up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning just to watch the big fights. It always had that big fight feel to it, and everyone would get so excited about it. So yeah, this is where I want to be fighting.”
Macklin isn’t just a guy who just happened to be good at boxing. Rather, he has grown up loving the sport. He was a rabid fan of the sport, akin to any young reader out there today.
Macklin’s heroes were some of the biggest names in the sport.
“I used to watch all the heavyweights. I loved Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield…all those fights…the Tyson fights. I was a big De La Hoya fan when I was younger. I watched all his fights. Prince Naseem Hamed…to be honest with you, it was all of them: all the big fights. I watched them all!”
As a kid, Macklin said he was a “huge, huge fan,” who read boxing magazines “cover to cover.”
So it is safe to say he’s living the dream?
“Yeah, exactly. It’s great, and I’m enjoying it.”
Macklin’s dream won’t be complete, of course, without a world title win. He intends to make it a reality Saturday night against Golovkin.
“I don’t want to be a bridesmaid forever,” he said. “I want to go all the way and achieve the dream of becoming a world champion.”
What of the formidable Golovkin, who happens to be standing in his way?
“It can’t help but be an exciting fight,” he said. “But I’m confident that whatever he brings to the table, I’ll have an answer for it and more. I will be leaving the ring as the new middleweight champion.”
Don’t be surprised if he does.
Middleweight contender and former two-time world title challenger Matthew "Mack The Knife" Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) will take on WBA/IBO middleweight titlist Gennady "GGG" Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) on Saturday, June 29. The bout will be televised live on HBO beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET from the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn..
All quotes were obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted.