Macklin keeps focus on Pintos

MATTHEW ‘Mack the Knife’ Macklin has big plans for next year but the European and British middleweight champion knows they will be meaningless unless he beats Uruguayan light-middleweight champ, Rafael Sosa Pintos, when they headline the televised Sierra Fight Night at the National Stadium tonight.

Macklin, a Birmingham-born Irishman whose parents hail from Tipperary and Roscommon, hardly broke a sweat in his last two fights when it took him less than 10 minutes in total to win both the British and European titles. That makes him overwhelming favourite tonight but Pintos could be a potential banana skin.

Macklin has an impressive record of 25 wins – 18 by way of knockout – and one of just two losses was in that “fight of the year” with Jamie Moore. Pintos has been around the rings and has 34 wins with four losses – two of those losses by KO.

In October he beat Cristian Gustava Sosa in defence of the Uruguayan title he had won a month earlier when beating Wilson Enrique Galli.

In August, however, the referee stopped the contest after Marcus Hector Vergara had put him on the floor twice in the second round and once in the third when they fought for the interim WBC Latino light middleweight title.

That stoppage would make him suspect to the big bombs that Macklin will land in the opening rounds tonight. It should be remembered that he ended Wayne Elcock’s reign as British champion inside three rounds and Amin Asikainen’s challenge for the vacant European title did not survive the first.

After tonight’s fight Macklin should be in a position to enjoy the Christmas festivities before preparing for a mandatory defence of his European title against Russia’s Dmitry Pirog in Birmingham in February and his manager, Brian Peters, will be able to tell him everything he needs to know about mandatory challengers.

“I’ve watched bits and pieces of Pirog and there’s no doubt that he is an excellent fighter,” Macklin said. “I know people are talking about world titles but one thing at a time. I also know that as long as I keep winning, that talk will go on, but really, I just have to focus on one fight at a time.

“And right now that fight is against Pintos because he’s the man I must beat first. We’ll talk of other fights when the New Year comes in. Having said that, naturally it would be my goal to emulate Bernard Dunne and bring a world title to Ireland.

“The whole country felt a great sense of pride the night last March when Bernard won the belt. If I won the title, I would certainly defend it in Ireland. First though, as I say, I am focused on the Pintos fight.

“I’ll be looking for an early finish as I know I have the punch to do it. I finished Elcock with my right hand and Asikainen with my left so it was pretty satisfying to know that I can punch with either hand. Pintos is a tough guy so I’ll take my time and if the opportunity arises I’ll go for it.”

On an exciting undercard Paul Hyland, the youngest of three boxing brothers, will defend his Irish super-bantamweight title against Eugene Heagney from Belfast while in a second Irish title fight another Dubliner, Anthony Fitzgerald, will take on Leeds-born Lee Murtagh for the vacant super middleweight belt.

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