Matthew Macklin returned to winning ways and gave himself renewed hope of a fourth world title shot after a points victory over Lamar Russ in their middleweight encounter on Saturday evening.
Hours after another British middleweight, Darren Barker, had lost his IBF title to Felix Sturm, Macklin overcame some signs of rustiness to record a unanimous points victory—with the three judges scoring the fight 96-94, 98-92 and 97-93 in Macklin’s favour.
The previously undefeated Russ, a late replacement for the injured Willie Nelson, was outmatched for most of the contests, with Macklin frustrated as the American seemed reluctant to engage for much of the contest.
Macklin circled his opponent for much of the opening two rounds before beginning to pick his shots with more clarity and effect in the third and fourth. A clash of heads—ruled accidental—in the fifth left Macklin bleeding, but that only seemed to inspire him as he landed shots with increasing regularity.
Russ, in contrast, seemed to be retreating into his shell—with Macklin so exasperated by the tactics that he dropped his hands and gestured his opponent to come at him in the 10th and final round. Russ responded by sticking his tongue out, although it was Macklin who then ended up on the canvas after what was again ruled an accidental slip.
Nevertheless, when the final bell went it was clear which fighter had won the contest.
Despite the win, it was far from a perfect display—although perhaps that is not surprising considering it was only Macklin’s second victory since December 2010. Bar a one-round demolition of Joachim Alcine last September, Macklin had lost his last three fights: title shots against Sturm, Sergio Martinez and (in June) Gennady Golovkin.
Still, there will have been encouraging signs for the fighter and his new trainer, Jamie Moore, who Macklin met for the British title seven years ago.
Following the win, Macklin is widely expected to meet another Irishman, Andy Lee, in a bout that may be set for St. Patrick’s Day.