A middleweight bout between former three-time world title challenger Matthew Macklin and junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson has been made by promoter Lou DiBella, although he is waiting for a date from HBO to slot the fight on.
There’s a chance that the middleweight bout will wind up on the undercard of super middleweight champion Andre Ward’s defense against Edwin Rodriguez on Nov. 16 in Ontario, Calif. HBO is still trying to figure out what it will air on that undercard, even though it is only six weeks away.
“Macklin-Nelson is being looked at for the Ward-Rodriguez undercard and since I also promote Rodriguez, it makes sense,” DiBella told ESPN.com. “Macklin and Nelson have agreed to fight at 160 pounds, but I’ve been waiting for weeks for (HBO) to confirm the date.”
Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs), 31, an Irishman from England, suffered a devastating one-punch, third-round knockout loss to challenging middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin on June 29. The end came on a brutal body shot that cracked one of Macklin’s ribs.
Despite the one-sided loss, HBO owes him another televised bout, a deal point in the contract for the fight against Golovkin.
Nelson (21-1-1, 12 KOs), 26, of Cleveland, survived a very tough battle against decided underdog Luciano Cuello, who cut Nelson over both eyes, on the Golovkin-Macklin undercard. If Nelson-Macklin is finalized, Nelson, a very big junior middleweight at 6 feet 3 inches, will move up in weight.
“It’s an intriguing fight, I think,” DiBella said. “Willie can bang and be banged. He’s moving up in weight but he obviously has a body that can handle it. And while Matt is still an elite middleweight, he needs to get back on the winning track. It’s a must-win fight for him.”
Macklin has lost three of his last four fights, although one of them was a heavily disputed split decision to then-titleholder Felix Sturm of Germany on Sturm’s turf. The other defeat was an 11th-round knockout loss to champion Sergio Martinez in a highly competitive fight, during which Macklin dropped Martinez in the seventh round before getting dropped twice and stopped.