Macklin confident of Lee showdown

MATTHEW MACKLIN and Andy Lee could touch gloves sometime next year according to the European champion who meets Rafa Sosa Pintos on Saturday night’s televised Sierra Fight Night at the National Stadium.

“It would be an easy fight to make, I’m managed by Brian Peters and Brian’s promoted all Andy’s fights in Ireland so it’s a natural fight,” Macklin said.

“Andy’s a nice lad, in fact I watched the Pacquiao and Cotto fight with him after his last fight in Limerick and we had a good laugh about fighting each other. He’s told me personally that he’s up for the fight so it’s definitely another option for next year although a world title fight is what I’m really pushing for right now.”

Macklin’s European title fight with Finland’s Amin Asikainen in September was the first engagement of a three-fight promotional deal with friend, one-time sparring partner and now promoter, Ricky Hatton.

After Saturday’s clash with Pintos, Macklin’s next contest will be a mandatory defence of his European title against the unbeaten Russian, Dmitry Pirog. Once that’s out of the way “The Hitman” has promised to deliver on a shot at a world title.

“Matthew’s performance against Asikainen proves that he’s up there with the best in the world – he was superb and thoroughly professional,” said Hatton who will be ringside in Dublin this weekend.

“Asikainen, remember, was rated as high as sixth in the world and this wasn’t a lucky one-punch win. It was the result of years of hard work and dedication. I have sparred with him often enough to know that he has the ability to go all the way.”

“I’d take on any of the champions right now including Kelly Pavlik,” said Macklin. “I don’t think there are too many big fights out there for Pavlik at the moment so if that fight came my way I’d jump at it. I’ve the skills, the power and the chin to beat him.”

Macklin, who has taken less than 10 minutes of boxing to win both the British and European titles could have been fighting his battles in the courtroom rather than in the boxing ring. As an 18 year-old with nine GCSEs and A levels in English, History and German, Macklin began a law degree at Coventry University only to abandon his studies after his first year to concentrate on boxing.

“I just couldn’t keep both going,” he said. “The old saying is true, you can play football or rugby but you can’t play boxing. You have to give it everything and my studies were starting to suffer. I couldn’t keep them both going to the level I needed.

“I was up in the morning at 6am to go for a run and then catch the train to university for the day. Then when I got back in the afternoon I’d fit in another session before heading to the boxing gym in the evening and then it was back home to try and get a bit of study done before calling it a night.

“Inevitably it came to a point where I knew I had to choose between boxing and my education so I had a chat with the university and they told me that I could defer the rest of the degree and come back to it whenever.

“It was a tough decision to make because my parents had spent a small fortune on my education.”

This year he proved that he made the right decision. A third round destruction of then British champion Wayne Elcock in March was impressive considering that Elcock had lasted in to the fifth with destructive puncher Arthur Abraham in an IBF World title fight just two fights earlier.

However even that performance pales in comparison to Macklin’s first round demolition of Finland’s Amin Asikainen in September to lift the European title.

Meanwhile, Ciaran Healy, will arrive in Cork today ahead of tomorrow’s weigh-in for his Irish middleweight title fight with local sensation, Garry “Spike” O’Sullivan.

“Ciaran is arriving early so he is taking the fight very seriously,” O’Sullivan said. “From my point of view training could not have gone better, no problems, good spars, everything is ready.”

And world bronze medallist John Joe Nevin has been selected to box for Europe in the President’s Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, next week.

The Mullingar bantamweight has been named on one of the two European teams that will participate in one of world boxing’s most prestigious competitions.

Nevin, who boxes out of the Cavan club, won Ireland’s sixth world championship medal in Milan and could be in line for something of a windfall in Baku where the winning team will receive a cheque for $50,000 with the winners in each category getting $3,000 each.


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