Macklin has come close to the top before. Three times he has fought for world middleweight titles and, though each one threw up different plot lines, the endings were identical with the now 32-year old coming off second best.
The last of those, a third-round KO to the Kazahk beast that is Gennady Golovkin last June, was the most comprehensive of all, but Macklin started on the long road back by beating the USA’s Lamar Russ eight months ago.
He will take to the ring for the first time since on August 30 when meeting Argentina’s Jorge Sebastien Heiland in an official WBC title eliminator at Dublin’s 2,500-capacity National Stadium.
It is no gimme.
Heiland is a WBC International champion and a more accomplished fighter than was first envisaged at this point for Macklin who had anticipated a more gentle 10–rounder to keep him ring-sharp before moving on to bigger things.
That schedule has now been accelerated.
Do the business next month and the ‘Tipperary Tornado’ will move digs to the O2, which recently held a 9,500 UFC Fight Night sell-out and where a November date has already been booked to cater for a date with Andy Lee or Britain’s Martin Murray.
Both fights would be attractive packages for Sky Sports, which is screening the August 30 bill and has been persuaded across the Irish Sea in spite of the greater promotional costs involved thanks to Macklin’s proven past as a ratings puller.
The Heiland fight will be Macklin’s first with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.
Also on the bill is Britain’s Olympic heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who faces Ukrainian Yaroslav Zavorotnyi, and a grudge middle-weight match-up between Dublin’s Anthony Fitzgerald and Cork’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan.
“Irish boxing has been crying out for big-time boxing to come back here since the days when Bernard Dunne was fighting for world titles,” said Macklin yesterday.
“To be coming back here, and to be the person bringing big-time boxing back to Ireland with Eddie and with Sky Sports, makes me very proud to be doing that. From my own point of view, I am moving forward.”
Long-term the plans are ambitious. It was Hearn who managed to sell 80,000 tickets for the second of the Carl Froch-George Groves fights at Wembley and he spoke about doing something similar at Croke Park, where his press conference was held.
For that to happen, TV ratings need to be high and former Tipperary underage hurler Macklin believes he could one day fill out the Jones’ Road venue.
“It’s not realistic right now,” he said, “but boxing changes so much in three or four fights. Who would have said before the [first] Groves fight that Froch and Groves would have done Wembley?”