MATTHEW MACKLIN fell short in his quest to become world middleweight champion after SERGIO MARTINEZ retained the Diamond and Linear titles by technical knockout at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The 29-year-old put in a brave performance against the Argentinian kingpin and put the champion under a great deal of pressure and even managing to knock down Martinez in the seventh round (albeit a rather lucky knockdown) raising hopes of a huge upset in front of a partisan Irish-American crowd.
However, this only seemed to snap Martinez into action, who almost welcomed the knockdown and as a result a bloodied and battered Macklin was knocked down twice in the 11th round leaving his trainer Buddy McGirt with absolutely no choice but to stop the fight.
Macklin boxed cleverly in the opening rounds, firing hard with powerful punches and dominating the centre of the ring, with Martinez not being able to land the quick and punishing shots that have elevated him to world status.
The Birmingham based brawler was buoyant, measuring Martinez’s incoming straights and retaliating continously to the Argentine’s slack defences. However, it could be argued that Macklin’s confidence hampered his concentration, as Martinez changed his position and began to unload with dangerous uppercuts.
Eventually towards the end of the fourth, a powerful uppercut shook Macklin to his knees but bravely resisted collapsing to the canvas. However, the wiley and intelligent Martinez refused to retreat and both men surrendered to a machismo style of fighting, flailing with wild and ferocious punches bringing the sell-out crowd to their feet.
Despite Macklin being ahead on the scorecards, Martinez remained in control and fully confirmed his dominance in the ninth round as he landed crisp and clinical punches to Macklin, whose face had reddened and was clearly exhausted.
Macklin’s dream then evaporated before him as Martinez knocked him down with a perfect straight right hand, sending the 29-year-old crumbling into the ropes. Macklin got up but was then toppled again in the exact same manner, insisting he was okay.
However, the wise and experienced McGirt knew the truth and correctly decided that Macklin was in no shape to continue.
“I’m never going to quit”, said a deflated Macklin, speaking to HBO after the fight. “It was Buddy’s call but he’s a good trainer. I just wanted to do myself justice.
“I wanted to do everyone around me justice. I hope I’ve done that. I’m so disappointed.”
Even after Macklin’s early success, McGirt knew however that the end would be near for his fighter.
“For six or seven rounds it looked like he had the fight in his pocket,” said McGirt. “But he strayed from the gameplan and he got punished. He has nothing to be ashamed of though – Martinez is a great fighter. I thoroughly expect Matthew to be a world champion in the future.”
Matthew Macklin is a genuine fighter, what you see is what you get. His drive and determination is almost unrivalled amongst his fellow contenders and always puts up a great fight. But this fight proved many of Sergio Martinez’s doubters wrong, the Argentine thoroughly deserves the full title of WBC middleweight champion.
The only factor preventing this from occurring is the childish politics being played by the organisation. Macklin can hold his head up high as he has proved on a world stage that he can mix it with the best, he was controversially robbed of a win over Felix Sturm last year but against Martinez he was simply beaten by the better man.
Macklin does not yet merit the unflattering title of a nearly-man fighter, he gave it everything he had against Martinez and could yet again challenge for a world title later this year. The luck of the Irish simply was not with him on the night, but he is sure to have still brought back more pride to the Emerald Isle.