Veteran middleweight contender, Matthew "Mack the Knife" Macklin (29-5, 20 KO), returns to the ring after being destroyed by Gennady Golovkin in June. His opponent was supposed to be the up-and-coming Willie Nelson, but an injury forced him to pull out, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. His replacement is an even greener prospect, Lamar "The Boxing Que" Russ (14-0, 7 KO).
Russ is a sparring partner for Golovkin, so he should be familiar with what Macklin brings to the ring. That said, he isn't Golovkin. It seems unlikely he can have the same success Golovkin had against Macklin.
The fight takes place on the undercard of the Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko WBO and WBA super bantamweight title bout on HBO's Boxing After Dark.
Here's how you can watch the event.
When: Saturday, Dec. 7, at 9:45 p.m.
Where: Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Picking Up the Pieces
There are losses that fighters can suffer that lead you to believe: If one or two things were different, perhaps the entire result would have changed. Macklin's loss to Golovkin was not one of those losses.
Golovkin stalked him, walked through his preliminary defense and folded him up like a lawn chair with a body shot in the third round. Perhaps a rematch wouldn't end with a body shot, but it seems almost certain that Golovkin would win every encounter.
With that concept floating about, where does Macklin go in his career after the loss? Golovkin looks poised to be the major player at 160 pounds for a while. Taking on Willie Nelson almost seemed like a gatekeeper bout for Macklin. He has lost three of his last four fights, so perhaps that's the direction he has to be headed.
Still, Nelson is more known than Russ, and a win over the former would have done more for Macklin than beating "The Boxing Que." Needless to say, this is an important fight for Macklin. If he loses to an unknown like Russ, he should strongly consider retirement.
Is Russ Here to Win?
For a fighter like Russ who has been a sparring partner, one has to wonder is he ready to try and take advantage of his opportunity like Ruslan Provodnikov did against Timothy Bradley—even though he came up short?
Or is Russ going to be satisfied with collecting what will almost certainly be the biggest payday he's had in the sport?
The answer to that question will likely determine how good of a show fans get when the two men meet. Russ has an impressive amateur background. He was ranked as high as fifth in the nation as an amateur, per East Side Boxing, and he's looked sharp early in is career.
Still, this is Russ' first fight scheduled for more than eight rounds. Does he have the stamina, poise and will to beat a desperate Macklin?
Who wins Macklin vs. Russ and how?
At 6'2", Russ has a four-inch height advantage. That is even more significant when you factor in Russ' edge in overall athleticism. He moves very well in the ring and Macklin may have a difficult time getting to him.
Russ has sparred with Golovkin, so we know he's faced some serious punching power. If he has taken shots from one of the fiercest middleweights in the world, you would think he may stand a chance to compete with Macklin.
I do see this fight as being competitive, but it is hard to give such an inexperienced fighter the nod over a veteran like Macklin. I expect Russ to start strong with his jab and movement, but ultimately he will wear down. Macklin has always been a solid body puncher, and that will be his biggest weapon in this fight.
He'll get the better of Russ from the fifth round until the conclusion of the bout. Russ has the size and skill combination to get the win but not the intangibles just yet. Macklin will win a unanimous decision.
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