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Macklin: ‘I’d beat all the world champions’


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SPEAKING backstage after Andy Lee’s 10-round points win over cagey Frenchman Affif Belghecham, European middleweight champion Matthew Macklin was impressed with the Limerick man’s performance and insisted a clash between the pair was a real possibility.


“I’m delighted that Andy won and I didn’t want to see him get beat by any means,” said the Birmingham man, with Tipperary roots. “When someone’s negative they can be hard to look good against and Belghecham was hell-bent on surviving the rounds, so it’s hard to show what you’re capable of. Andy was a little shaken at the end but he’d won every round up to that point and he was panicked rather than hurt.”


Matthew was referring to the final two sessions in which the visitor dramatically came out of his shell and began landing some serious leather through Lee’s guard. Always a popular guest on the Irish scene, the 27-year-old, who starched Amin Asikainen in a round for the European crown, is relishing a Dublin headline slot on December 5.


“I can’t wait to box in the National Stadium,” he enthused, “because it holds an electric atmosphere and a good performance will really top off a great year for me. Next year is all about winning a world title. The first thing I have to do [after the Dublin show] is fight my European mandatory challenger, Dmitriy Pirog, and once I beat him I’ll be looking to fight for a world title. If that didn’t happen then I’d take a voluntary defence and Andy Lee would be in position for that.”


While exuding confidence and lining up his own matches, could the Hatton Promotions man be looking past South American dangerman Rafael Sosa Pintos, his next scheduled opponent?


“There’s no danger of me overlooking Pintos,” assured Macklin, “I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am now and the training’s been flat-out, just to stay on top of things. I’ve seen tapes of the Argentine, against Anthony Mundine, when he lost on points over 10 rounds and he has a very good defence, punches well to the body and fights like a typical South American. I’m on form at the moment and if I box to my potential I think I’d beat any of the world champions.


“Kelly Pavlik is number one, and rightfully so, but he’s pulling out of fights and I don’t think his head is in the right place. I’d love that fight and now would be the time to get Pavlik. The Pintos fight gives me the chance to box again in Ireland and after just four rounds in 12 months; I don’t want to stay idle.”


Prior to the Asikainen bout in September, Matthew was rumoured to be facing rising prospect Darren Barker. The Barnet man now meets Wayne Elcock on November 28 for the same British title that Macklin had so clinically removed from his fellow Brummie earlier this year. The West Midlands man weighs in with his opinions on how the fight will pan out:


“I think Elcock’s confidence is shot, as he hasn’t boxed since he fought me and it was a pretty devastating loss for him,” explained Macklin. “Barker is on a high, very sharp at present and I think he will stop Wayne early.”


“I don’t know if Barker’s still on my radar or not,” Macklin, rather disappointingly, added. “As I said before I need to get this mandatory out of the way first and the December bout with Pintos is the first thing on my mind before anything else. I have to fight Dmitriy Pirog, that’s mandated, and then I want a world title fight.”




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