Dan Rafael: Matthew Macklin

Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin, an Irishman who lives in England, has not fought in Ireland since he outpointed Rafael Sosa Pintos at National Stadium in Dublin in December 2009. Now the time is right for the three-time world title challenger to return.

Macklin will headline a card there on Aug. 30 in his first fight since agreeing to a co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn.

Hearn, who will co-promote Macklin with Lou DiBella, Macklin’s longtime promoter, made the announcement on Wednesday.

Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs), 32, doesn’t have an opponent yet. He is coming off a strong performance in a unanimous decision win against then-unbeaten Lamar Russ in December. Macklin’s next fight was supposed to be against former titleholder Daniel Geale on HBO on May 24, but when the Bryant Jennings-Mike Perez heavyweight main event was postponed, Macklin’s fight was called off because Geale got a better opportunity (a title fight with Gennady Golovkin on July 27).

That understandably upset Macklin, who instead has a chance to go back to the United Kingdom.

“It’s been four years since I last boxed in the U.K. and five since I boxed in Ireland, so I am really looking forward to boxing this side of the Atlantic again,” Macklin said. “The National Stadium has always been a great traditional venue for Irish boxing, and I think the atmosphere on August 30 will be electric.”

Hearn said he has been looking to promote in Dublin but needed the right fighter to appear in the main event. He believes he has the guy in Macklin, who lost a controversial decision in a title fight to Felix Sturm in 2011 but suffered knockout losses in title bouts against Sergio Martinez (2012) and Golovkin (2013).

“Matthew is a proven world-level fighter on the verge of another world title shot, and I am delighted to also be working with our American partner Lou DiBella on making that happen,” Hearn said. “Fans in Dublin can expect a corker of a card with Olympic super heavyweight king [Anthony] Joshua fighting in the city for the first time as a pro and an all-Irish grudge match between [middleweights] Spike O’Sullivan and Anthony Fitzgerald.”

DiBella said he will take the lead on Macklin's fights in the United States, while Hearn will handle the promotions for Macklin in Europe.

“I’ve always had a good relationship with Eddie,” DiBella said. “This was a deal that made sense for everybody.”

Matchroom's early fall schedule

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who has an exclusive deal to provide the fights seen on subscription sports network Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, unveiled the early part of his fall Sky schedule on Wednesday and it’s ambitious.

Here’s a look at the schedule so far:

" Aug. 30: Newly signed middleweight contender Matthew Macklin and heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, will appear in separate fights atop a card in Dublin, Ireland.

" Sept. 13: Junior featherweight titleholder Scott Quigg will make his fourth defense against an opponent to be determined in Manchester, England. Lightweight Anthony Crolla will also be in action in the show.

" Sept. 27: Super middleweight Paul Smith, who is with Matchroom, is headed to Germany to challenge titleholder Arthur Abraham on a Sauerland Event card.

" Oct. 4: British and Commonwealth featherweight champion Josh Warrington will headline a card in his hometown of Leeds, England. Also on the card, Jamie McDonnell will defend his bantamweight world title.

" Oct. 11: A card at the O2 Arena in London will include super middleweight contender James DeGale, lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell and another appearance by Joshua as well as a featherweight title elimination fight between Lee Selby and Joel Brunker. The winner becomes the mandatory challenger for the titleholder Evgeny Gradovich.

" Oct. 25: Lightweights Luke Campbell, a 2012 British Olympic gold medalist, and Tommy Coyle will fight in separate bouts in their hometown of Hull, England.

DiBella stocking up at 160

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
Promoter Lou DiBella likes his middleweights. He helped guide Bernard Hopkins to the undisputed title in 2001. He did the same with Jermain Taylor, and he promoted Sergio Martinez throughout his title reign, which came to an end Saturday night at the hands of Miguel Cotto.

DiBella has also promoted 160-pound contenders such as Matthew Macklin and Andy Lee. And now he is stocking up at 160 again.

DiBella recently signed amateur middleweight standouts Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Ivan Golub of Ukraine and on Tuesday announced that he has signed two more middleweight prospects: Eduardo Alicea (6-0, 3 KOs) and Paul Littleton (8-0-1, 5 KOs).

“The middleweight division has always been one of boxing's elite weight classes, and it is once again today,” DiBella said. “We just recently added two of the best amateur boxers in the world to the DBE roster and we are now adding these two undefeated prospects to our growing stable. We truly feel that these talented fighters, in addition to fellow DBE middleweight prospect Lamar Russ, make up the best young group of middleweights in all of boxing. We are excited to be working with each and every one of them.”

Alicea, 23, who is trained by Robert Garcia, was 143-16 as an amateur and won at the 2007 national Junior Olympics. He’s been a pro since 2011 but had promotional and managerial issues. DiBella is co-promoting Alicea with Steve Smith's Rumble Time Promotions.

Alicea’s next fight will be June 27 at Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, Missouri, on an ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” undercard. Golub will make his pro debut on the same card.

Littleton is a former Chicago Golden Gloves champion. He and Derevyanchenko will have their first bout with DiBella this summer on one of his Broadway Boxing cards.

DiBella: Macklin is wrong

May, 23, 2014
May 23
Understandably, middleweight contender Matthew Macklin is disappointed. That is because he was supposed to fight former titleholder Daniel Geale on Saturday in Corpus Christi, Texas on HBO.

The fight was scheduled to be the co-feature on the card headlined by the heavyweight elimination bout between Mike Perez and Bryant Jennings, but when Perez suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago the card was canceled. Poof, there went Macklin’s fight and low six-figure payday.

But not long after that, HBO was interested to have him face Matt Korobov on June 28 on the Terence Crawford-Yuriorkis Gamboa undercard. While Macklin would make a little less money for the fight, he would at least not have let his training go to waste, would still be on HBO and also in a winnable fight.

But Macklin did not respond in a timely enough fashion about whether he would accept the fight, so HBO and Top Rank moved on and Korobov will face Jose Uzcategui instead.

Now Macklin, upset with promoter Lou DiBella over the situation, has declared himself a free agent even though DiBella said he has one more fight with him, and certainly Macklin believed that also given that he had accepted the Geale offer from DiBella.

Macklin has said that the Perez injury was fishy, believing that the card was called off as a way to get Geale a July shot at the K2-promoted Gennady Golovkin because right after the card was canceled Golovkin-Geale was being negotiated. Perez is also with K2.

“I think something’s fishy there myself, but HBO did come back and offer Matthew a Korobov fight,” DiBella said. “He was offered the fight in writing. He never got back to me. The next day HBO called me and they needed to know if we will accept the fight or not. Matthew said he needed a day to decide and, besides, it was his birthday and he didn’t want to think about boxing. I got Top Rank and HBO to wait one more day. And as of the middle of the next day his adviser (Anthony Catanzaro) said he couldn’t reach him. The following day still no response and Anthony sent me a text message saying he hadn’t heard from Matt and to tell them if they have to move on they should move on.”

DiBella said Macklin is not a free agent and is upset that Macklin is seemingly blaming DiBella for what happened.

“It’s totally disrespectful. I also had a fighter retire on me by text message,” DiBella said of Yuri Foreman, who announced his retirement two weeks before he was to fight June 7 on the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto HBO PPV undercard. “The job I’ve done with Macklin after not getting the decision against Felix Sturm, he should be thrilled.”

After that robbery, DiBella got Macklin a shot at middleweight champ Martinez (Macklin was knocked out), got him on the Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. HBO PPV card and then a shot at Golovkin (Macklin was knocked out). And then Macklin found himself back on HBO against the unknown Lamar Russ because DiBella negotiated a comeback fight in the Golovkin contract.

“I got him on HBO against Lamar Russ after he knocked out early (third round) by Golovkin. I did my job,” DiBella said. “Matthew has turned down fights and also been injured. How can he argue I don’t have a fight left? It was his choice not to fight Korobov, but he can’t say he doesn’t have a fight left.

“I have fought for this kid non-stop. I questioned with what happened with Geale. It’s not fair but there’s nothing I can do about it so he shouldn’t blame me and he’s the one who turned down Korobov. Matthew is sick of the politics of boxing but so am I, and part of it’s the fighters who take advantage of the people who work hard for them and don’t honor their contracts. I literally feel hurt. I respected him and considered him a friend, so I am hurt and upset. He is wrong.”
Bryant ''By-By'' JenningsCal Sport Media/AP ImagesBryant Jennings is looking to take another step toward the heavyweight title.
The May 24 HBO doubleheader featuring heavyweight Bryant Jennings against Mike Perez in a title eliminator and the middleweight showdown between former titlist Daniel Geale and former three-time title challenger Matthew Macklin will take place at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, promoters Gary Shaw and K2 Promotions have announced.

Both fights look like good, competitive bouts on paper. The Jennings-Perez winner will become the mandatory challenger for the fighter who emerges from the winner of the Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola vacant title bout after taking on first mandatory Deontay Wilder.

“The world has been desperately seeking a heavyweight to take over the division, and I believe that person is me,” Jennings said. “By defeating Mike Perez, I will position myself as the mandatory in the WBC.

Said Perez: “My dream has always been to fight for the heavyweight championship. This has been my dream since I first started boxing, and I have sacrificed a lot to get this opportunity. Jennings and I have been on a crash course for a while, and now with so much at risk I’m sure it will bring out the best in both of us. However, as good as Jennings is, I will be victorious.”

The Geale-Macklin winner figures to be in a great spot to land another title shot.

“I'm keen to prove I am still one of the best middleweights in the world,” Geale said. "Macklin is a very tough opponent who likes to go to war, as do I. Our clash of styles could make a fight that steals the show. I will confirm my status as one of the top fighters in the division with a victory. When I win, I still want to fight [Gennady] Golovkin or the winner of [Felix] Sturm vs. [Sam] Solomon.”

Said Macklin: “I'm really excited about the fight with Daniel Geale. He's a good fighter, a former world champion, and he throws a lot of punches like me, so I'm expecting it to be a tough, action-packed fight. After the Golovkin fight [a knockout loss], the win over [Lamar] Russ got me back on track and a much-needed 10 rounds of work. Winning on May 24 against Geale will throw me back into the world title mix, so in many ways this is almost a world title eliminator. It's a great fight between two of the best and most exciting middleweights in the world.”

There were plans to include a third televised fight, light heavyweight Edwin Rodriguez against Marcus Johnson, but the bout was scrapped when Johnson pulled out of the fight, according to Rodriguez promoter Lou DiBella.

You might be asking why HBO would bring Rodriguez back in his next fight after missing weight for a super middleweight title challenge against Andre Ward in November, when he fought poorly and lost a one-sided decision. The reason is because HBO gave Rodriguez a six-figure comeback fight in his contract in the event of a loss. It’s a terrible way to do business and something I have argued with HBO Sports president Ken Hershman about, but he said sometimes that is an onerous part of getting a fight deal done. It shouldn’t be.

Macklin pressing for Sturm rematch

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
Matthew MacklinDiBella Entertainment/Ed DillerEngland's Matthew Macklin is pushing for a rematch with Felix Sturm of Germany.

In 2011, England’s Matthew Macklin got plain ripped off in a split-decision loss challenging Felix Sturm for his middleweight title in Germany.

I was part of the American broadcast team for the fight on Epix, and I, along with the rest of our the team, thought Macklin clearly won the fight.

A rematch has been discussed on and off since, and, now, those talks are on again as Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs) is coming off a strong performance in a decision win against Lamar Russ in December and Sturm (39-3-2, 18 KOs) regained a title in December by stopping Darren Barker in the second round.

The time has come for Sturm to line up his first defense, and Macklin and England’s Martin Murray (26-1-1, 11 KOs), who has a 2011 draw with Sturm, are on top of the list to challenge. Macklin, of course, hopes he gets the fight. After all, Sturm told him that night in Germany in the ring after the fight he would give him a rematch down the road.

The sides have been in discussions, but Sturm has been slow to agree to the fight, according to Macklin.

"We met all of his demands, yet he still won't move forward with the fight," Macklin said. “We agreed to fight him in his backyard for not much money at all. In fact, the purse was less than what I received against Lamar Russ. The money isn't what matters, though. I just want the opportunity to show the world who the better fighter is. I know that I beat him in our first fight, and I know that I will beat him again.

"I believed Sturm to be a great champion and a great warrior, and, with everything that was said after our first fight, we felt that he would want this challenge. We are absolutely shocked that he continues to delay and not just come out and accept the fight. We accepted all of his terms, so what is his excuse? We realize that he has made an offer to fight Murray, but I want to publicly come out and say that if Murray doesn't accept the offer then we are ready, willing and able to make this fight happen right now."

Macklin said he will even agree to give Sturm an immediate rematch should he lose.

"I know that I won the first fight, but I will assure him that if he gives me the opportunity for this second bout, which I know that I will win again, I will promise to give him an immediate rematch," Macklin said.

Promoter Lou DiBella, who said the target date for the fight is May 31, is doing what he can to get the fight done for Macklin.

"Matthew and Felix have history," DiBella said. "Matthew is willing to take the short end of the stick and extremely low money for the opportunity. He wants that fight desperately, and he believes it’s the right fight for boxing. We know there’s an offer out there also to Murray, but if that fight doesn’t happen, we want this fight. Now is the perfect time for Felix and Matthew to have the rematch. These two men have unfinished business."

Macklin hopes for Sturm rematch

December, 15, 2013

Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin returned to his winning ways on Dec. 7 by scoring a clear 10-round decision against previously undefeated Lamar Russ and now wants a rematch (one he deserves) with titleholder Felix Sturm.

Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs) beat Russ to rebound from a knockout loss in a title fight to Gennady Golovkin in June and has his eye on Sturm, with whom he has unfinished business. In 2011, Macklin, an Irishman from England, went to Sturm’s native Germany and appeared to handily beat him only to lose by split decision in one of the worst decisions of the year.

Sturm would later lose his title, but he won a 160-pound belt for the fourth time on Dec. 7 in Germany by stopping Darren Barker, who was hampered by a hip injury, in the second round. Sturm (39-3-2, 18 KOs) owes Barker a contractually obligated rematch, but Barker may have to retire because of the injury. If he does, Macklin wants the next shot.

"I punched Felix around the ring for 12 rounds in our fight in 2011, only to be robbed in what was described by many as one of the worst, if not the worst, decisions they have ever seen -- 78 percent of German viewers voting online had me winning the fight,” Macklin said. “German TV had me winning the fight by four rounds.

“He knows that I beat him and the boxing world knows that I beat him. He has done well to win back the world title for a record fourth time for a German fighter, so for that I congratulate him. But he knows that we have unfinished business and if he's a real man then he will give me a rematch like he promised. Actually, if he's a real man then he should want the rematch for himself.”

Lou DiBella, Macklin’s promoter, hopes to put the fight together, even though one of his other clients, middleweight contender Andy Lee, is calling out Macklin.

"Matthew was deprived of a world title belt the first time that they fought in their great but controversial battle in 2011," DiBella said. "Sturm is a proud champion and I am confident that he will give Matthew his much deserved rematch."

In the 2011 fight, CompuBox had Macklin averaging 92 punches thrown per round, doubling Sturm's output. Macklin also landed 127 more punches and outlanded Sturm in 11 of the 12 rounds.

Irish bragging rights: Lee-Macklin?

December, 11, 2013
Former welterweight titleholders Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah just concluded their hyped “Battle of Brooklyn” on Saturday night with Malignaggi winning the decision and earning the “King of Brooklyn” tag. So how about we move two divisions north for a middleweight turf battle for Irish bragging rights?

Who’s up for a showdown between Ireland’s Andy Lee and Matthew Macklin, who is from England, but Irish by family heritage? Good fight, right? I sure think so and so does Lee, who tossed out a challenge to Macklin on Tuesday.

It’s been a fight that has been discussed a bit here and there, especially because Lou DiBella promotes both of them. It would be big in Ireland and would surely draw a crowd in New York, where the Irish fans are terrific and very supportive of their fighters.

“Matthew and I have both fought recently, we're both from Ireland, we're both middleweights, we're similarly rated, we're both in a similar position in our careers,” Lee said. “So let’s give the boxing public the fight they crave for and let the best man win.

“This is a massive fight in Ireland, Boston, Chicago or New York and will pack any venue. I am ready for the fight, we both have the same promoter, Lou DiBella. Therefore, the fight can easily be put together.”

If they were to fight, the winner would certainly put himself in a great position to earn another title fight.

Lee (31-2, 22 KOs), 29, has won three fights in a row since his 2012 stoppage loss in a world title fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., including a second-round blowout of Ferenc Hafner on Nov. 23.
Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs), 31, is 0-3 in world title fights, getting stopped by Sergio Martinez (in a highly competitive fight) and Gennady Golovkin but also getting ripped off against Felix Sturm in a terrible split decision.

Macklin righted his ship after the loss to Golovkin last June by winning a clear 10-round decision on HBO against Lamar Russ in an excellent performance on Saturday night on the James Kirkland-Glen Tapia undercard in Atlantic City, N.J. (I consider the horrible Guillermo Rigondeaux-Joseph Agbeko match to be the walk-out bout, and people really did walk out.)

“The fight would be a critical moment in both fighters’ careers,” Lee said. “A win for either of us would propel us to a world title fight again. Whoever wins the fight will go on and whoever loses the fight will have to either pack it in or start again. It is a fight I want. People talk about it all the time, so let’s make it happen.”

DiBella said it’s possible. But. There’s always a but, right?

“Macklin’s first choice is to fight Felix Sturm again,” DiBella said.

That’s a fight DiBella said could happen. Sturm won a title on Saturday by second-round knockout of Darren Barker, who re-injured his hip and could not continue. It’s an injury that could cause Barker to retire. If Barker doesn’t retire, he has an immediate rematch option to fight Sturm again, which would leave Macklin without the title fight. But if Barker does retire, Macklin could very well face Sturm next.

“Macklin is waiting to see what happens with Barker and Sturm,” DiBella said. “In the meantime, we’re in a holding pattern. But [Macklin-Lee] is a great fight. It could happen.”

Macklin adds former foe as trainer

November, 1, 2013
Matthew MacklinDiBella Entertainment/Ed DillerEngland's Matthew Macklin is pushing for a rematch with Felix Sturm of Germany.
In 2006, Matthew Macklin was knocked out by Jamie Moore in the 10th round of an action-packed British junior middleweight title fight. When Macklin heads into his next fight, it will be his old foe Moore manning the corner as his head trainer.

Sounds a little like Apollo Creed training Rocky Balboa or Micky Ward training Arturo Gatti, doesn't it?

Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs), an Irishman from England, is coming off a third-round knockout on a crushing body shot on June 29 in a middleweight world title bout against Gennady Golovkin and makes his return to face Willie Nelson (21-1-1, 12 KOs) on Dec. 7 (HBO) in Atlantic City, N.J., on the undercard of unified junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux's defense against former bantamweight titlist Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko.

"I think working with Jamie will definitely be a fresh start for me and I'm very excited about working with him," said Macklin, who is replacing Buddy McGirt with Moore. "We've have known each other for years and our fight back in 2006 only strengthened the respect we have for each other and obviously he brings a wealth of experience from his own career."

Moore (32-5, 23 KOs) had a good career as one of Europe's top junior middleweights for most of the 2000s before retiring in 2010 after his second consecutive knockout loss.

"When you go through a fight like we went through then you form quite a bond," Moore said of his relationship with Macklin. "I was already friends with Mathew before we fought and that only strengthened the bond and over the years we have always kept in touch. Since our fight I've watched him improve, adapt and become a world class fighter and I want to help him realize his dream of becoming a world champion. To be part of that journey would be very special for me, as well, because of what we went through in our fight.

"It's not about making any major changes to Matthew's style at this stage in his career. It's more about ironing out wrinkles and getting Matthew to box to his strengths and come up with the right game plan. I actually covered Willie Nelson's last fight for [British broadcaster] Sky and he's a very capable fighter and has a decent pedigree, but I believe that his style will suit Matthew and I know he'll want to put on another devastating performance to get himself back in the world title picture again."

Moore was a commentator on Nelson's 10-round decision win against Luciano Cuello, which came on the undercard of Macklin's loss to Golovkin at the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn.

Macklin said he is ready to bounce back after the loss to Golovkin, whom he said was the best opponent he ever faced.

"Obviously, I was very disappointed with the loss to Golovkin but I have to keep things in perspective and it's pretty clear that Golovkin is a special fighter," Macklin said. "In hindsight, I probably used the wrong tactics in that fight but I've no excuses. He's the best I’ve ever fought. That was my third world title fight but I was robbed against Felix Sturm in Germany in my first attempt and then pushed Sergio Martinez very hard in my second crack.

"Obviously, things didn't go my way against Golovkin but both he and Martinez are in pretty much everyone's top five pound-for-pound list so I know I still have what it takes to win a world title."

Tapia-Kirkland in the works

October, 11, 2013
LAS VEGAS -- Anyone in the mood for a crossroads fight between two all-action guys with good power? If so, you’ll love this fight in the works: rising junior middleweight prospect Glen Tapia against knockout artist James Kirkland.

The fight is in the process of being finalized -- and there does not seem to be any issues -- for Dec. 7 on an HBO tripleheader from the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. It would be on a card that also will include two fights being finalized: the main event of junior featherweight champ Guillermo Rigondeaux against former bantamweight titlist Joseph Agbeko, and a middleweight fight between former three-time title challenger Matthew Macklin and Willie Nelson.

Tapia-Kirkland, talks for which got serious in the past few days, easily could steal the show.

“I think it’s a real tough fight and we know Tapia is stepping up big,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Thursday. “But you take a shot. Tapia’s been looking good. He’s a strong kid and Kirkland doesn't have the best chin in the world.”

Tapia, 23, of Passaic, N.J., scored his biggest victory in July, having a breakout performance on “Friday Night Fights,” stopping then-undefeated prospect Abie Han in the eighth round of a terrific fight. Tapia returned Sept. 28 to stop veteran Elco Garcia in the fifth round.

Tapia and manager Pat Lynch are in Las Vegas this week for Saturday’s Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez welterweight title fight and to meet with Top Rank officials to finish their deal. But as far Tapia and Lynch are concerned, the fight is a go.

“Kirkland is a warrior. He goes in to knock you out. I love that,” Tapia told ESPN.com. “Even if I'm the underdog, I’ll show people what I can do. I said yes to this fight from the beginning, as soon as it was brought up.”

Lynch, who managed the late Arturo Gatti for his entire career, said he’s still going over the numbers with Top Rank, but is confident it will be worked out.

“I’m nervous about the fight,” Lynch admitted. “It’s a big step up. But if Glen wins, listen, he could be on his way to stardom. He’s already become a big-ticket seller in New Jersey. You win a fight like this and you go to the next level.

“It’s a dangerous fight, so he’s got to fight a smart fight. But we got a shot to win the fight or we wouldn’t have taken it.”

Top Rank is negotiating with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, the rap star who now represents Kirkland after his separation from Golden Boy following a lawsuit. Besides the promotional turmoil -- Kirkland, a felon who already had his career interrupted in 2009 by prison time for gun possession charges -- got in more trouble in June when he was arrested on an assault charge.

Kirkland, 29, will be coming off a long layoff, having not fought since a controversial disqualification win against Carlos Molina (who won a world title last month) in March 2012.

But Kirkland (31-1, 27 KOs) is a big puncher and a huge step up for Tapia (20-0, 12 KOs).

“This is a make or break fight. If I knock him out or beat him, I can become a superstar. Lose, and I gotta start over,” Tapia said. “Kirkland is always in shape and I don’t think he’ll be rusty.”

Kirkland’s only loss was a shocking upset to Nobuhiro Ishida, a feather-fisted fringe contender from Japan, who dropped Kirkland three times in a first-round knockout in 2011. Kirkland was also down in the first round of a wild slugfest with Alfredo Angulo in a 2011 sixth-round knockout win.

Macklin-Nelson in the works

October, 2, 2013
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.

Hernandez-Harrison getting exposure

October, 2, 2013
Welterweight prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison is only 19 but the part-time college student, who turned pro in 2011, already has a robust record of 17-0 with 10 knockouts.

Although not yet ready to fight top opposition, Hernandez-Harrison is starting to get a bit of exposure on bigger cards. Although he is a solid draw in his hometown of Washington, D.C., he made an appearance on the Gennady Golovkin-Matthew Macklin middleweight title fight undercard on June 29 and easily outpointed Ben Ankrah over six rounds.

Hernandez-Harrison fought again in August and will be back to take on 23-year-old Josh Torres (12-2-1, 5 KOs) of Albuquerque, N.M., in a scheduled 10-round fight for a youth title on the undercard of Golovkin’s defense against Curtis Stevens on Nov. 2 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Torres is riding a five-fight winning streak.

For any young fighter, an appearance at one of the most famous arenas in the world is a big deal, and it’s no different for Hernandez-Harrison.

"Fighting at Madison Square Garden is like a dream come true," said Hernandez-Harrison, who is trained by his father, Buddy Harrison. “I have a lot of family in New York and it will be great to fight in front of them. Washington, D.C., is my home and I really appreciate that the D.C. fans are making the trip to New York to support me.”

Hernandez-Harrison’s team is not going to push him too quickly. Buddy Harrison and All-In Entertainment promoter Jeff Fried know that the youngster needs experience. Dusty is OK with that.

"This is the type of fight I want," Hernandez-Harrison said. "I want to fight guys that are going to push me and bring out the best in me."

Sergio Mora signs with DiBella

July, 30, 2013
Sergio MoraAP Photo/Damian DovarganesSergio Mora will get another opportunity after signing with DiBella Entertainment.

Middleweight Sergio Mora, a former junior middleweight titlist and first-season winner of “The Contender” reality series, signed Tuesday with promoter Lou DiBella.

“I have always respected Lou for his bold ways and honesty,” Mora, known as “The Latin Snake,” said. “Lou is very knowledgeable and experienced and he is passionate and really cares about his fighters and the sport as a whole. Having the opportunity to work with someone like Lou is a blessing and an honor.

“I want to fight the top 160-pounders in the world, and the best is Sergio Martinez, who just happens to also be promoted by Lou.”

DiBella is heavily involved in the middleweight division. Besides promoting Martinez, the champion, he also works with contenders Matthew Macklin and Andy Lee, so having another solid middleweight on his roster made sense.

“It was a no-brainer of a signing,” DiBella said.

Mora (24-3-2, 7 KOs), 32, of Los Angeles, is just 2-2 in his past four fights, but both losses were debatable decisions to Brian Vera. Mora also won his last fight, looking very good in a decision win against former European champion Grzegorz Proksa on June 28.

The rap on Mora for years is that he is anything but a crowd-pleasing fighter, but as he has gotten a little older he has slowed down a touch and also come to realize that if he wants to get another significant fight he is going to have to be a bit more entertaining. His recent fights have been more crowd-pleasing than earlier in his career.

“Sergio is going to get another good fight,” DiBella said. “And I think he’s become a more pleasing fighter. I thought he fought a great fight against Proksa and the fights with Vera were both pleasing and I thought he won at least one of them and neither of them were boring.”

DiBella does not have a fight set for Mora yet but said he would fight in the fall.

“Say what you want, but Mora is, and has been for many years, one of the most skilled middleweights in the world,” DiBella said.

In 2008, Mora outpointed the late Vernon Forrest to win a 154-pound world title, but he lost a unanimous decision and the belt in the immediate rematch later that year. Two fights later, Mora held the heavily favored Shane Mosley to a draw in September 2009. Mora won “The Contender” tournament and the $1 million grand prize in 2005.

Golovkin return in the works

July, 29, 2013
Gennady Golovkin and Matthew MacklinWill Hart/K2 PromotionsGennady Golovkin, right, likely won't return as soon as expected but should stay busy through 2013.
Right after middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin put away Matthew Macklin on June 29 with a brutal third-round body shot to record his third knockout victory of a very busy first half of 2013, GGG and his team talked about fighting at least twice more this year.

K2 promoter Tom Loeffler said Golovkin could be back perhaps as soon as August or September, but at this point Golovkin won't return that quickly. Loeffler told ESPN.com recently, however, that the general plan for the rest of 2013 hasn't changed.

"GGG definitely wants to fight two more times before year's end," Loeffler said, adding that he is discussing a Nov. 2 date with HBO. Beyond that fight, Loeffler said they would try to work in one more title defense before year's end.

Loeffler said he is waiting for HBO to approve the date, and if Golovkin fights on that date the fight would take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Loeffler is also discussing opponents, which is a harder issue to deal with than a date.

"Opponents are up in the air, but we definitely want to try to get the best fights for him," Loeffler said.

One opponent Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) has his eye on is England's Martin Murray, who lost a very close fight to champion Sergio Martinez on April 27 in Martinez's Argentina homecoming fight. In another venue, perhaps Murray would have gotten the nod. But don't count on Murray being GGG's next opponent.

"Unfortunately, it looks like Murray is not interested even if it is outside the U.S.," Loeffler said, noting that, because of a past criminal background, Murray hasn't been able to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

The other name on the short list is Curtis Stevens (24-3, 17 KOs), who makes a lot of sense for the fall in New York. First off, Stevens is from Brooklyn. Second, he has a fight set for Saturday, so the schedule lines up rather nicely with Golovkin's.

"I think the fighter is interested, but I think [Main Events chief executive] Kathy [Duva] is hesitant," Loeffler said. "But Stevens is very vocal about [wanting to fight] GGG now. I do know that Curtis Stevens has been calling out GGG. Just don't know if his promoter wants that fight."

Stevens has scored three knockouts in a row since losing at super middleweight and dropping down in weight. He will face Saul Roman (37-9, 31 KOs) at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn., on Saturday night (NBC Sports Net).

On a conference call last week, Duva alluded to a possible fight with Golovkin.

"Curtis is fabulous because he will absolutely fight anyone at all," Duva said. "So our job as promoters is to build him to the point where, when that title opportunity comes, he will be well compensated for it."
After Gennady Golovkin's sick one-punch knockout of Matthew Macklin on a left hook to the body to retain his middleweight belt for the eighth time on Saturday night, much of the postfight news conference discussion centered on who GGG might fight next.

[+] EnlargeSergio Martinez and Martin Murray
Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty ImagesSergio Martinez is still recovering from his April win over Martin Murray, but he says he is game for a Gennady Golovkin fight after a tune-up bout.
The most significant fight in the middleweight division would pit Golovkin against Sergio Martinez, the real 160-pound world champion. That's a fight that Golovkin and his team -- not to mention executives at HBO -- would love to make.

But there have been questions about whether Martinez would be interested in the fight. He is nearing the end at age 38, beset by injuries. and he didn't look good surviving through a tight decision win against Martin Murray in April in Argentina, Martinez's homecoming fight. Martinez struggled, got knocked down and hung on to win a debatable decision.

But Martinez wanted to clear up any confusion about his willingness to face Golovkin. He said Monday that, yes, he would be happy to fight Golovkin next year, as long as he gets one fight beforehand in his return from a knee injury.

"Sergio Martinez reached out to [adviser] Sampson [Lewkowicz] and me," promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com. "He said that history will show that he has embraced every challenge available to him in his career. His legacy will be that he was always willing to fight the best. Right now, his concentration is on healing and rehabilitation, and he will not fight until sometime in the first half of 2014. But he wanted to make it clear that he is willing to fight Gennady Golovkin."

Against Murray, Martinez re-injured the right knee that he hurt in his September win against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Martinez later had surgery and came into the fight against Murray with the knee not fully healed.

In fact, Lewkowicz told ESPN.com that Martinez probably will require a second surgery on the knee later this month. Surgery or not, Martinez won't fight until at least the spring. But after that, Martinez said Golovkin is very much in the picture.

"Sergio is going to back Spain [where had his knee surgery last fall] and probably will have another operation in the middle of July," Lewkowicz said. "If everything works out, he will be back in March or April for a fight, and after that he can fight Golovkin. It would be a big pay-per-view in September of [2014]. By that time, Golovkin will be a bigger name and we can make it a pay-per-view and both of them will get a well-deserved payday."

DiBella doesn't love the idea of making the fight, but said he would do it if it's what Martinez wants.

"Sergio was very clear to his team, myself included, that he is willing to fight Golovkin," DiBella said. "But right now he's hurt and concentrating on rehabilitation. He fought Murray hurt the whole fight. It was a gut check and an extremely painful experience. His next fight will not be scheduled until the first half of 2014, and it wouldn't make sense to make his first fight back against Golovkin.

"I feel protective of my fighter and I'm upset by people who rip him because they say he won't fight Golovkin. What the f--- are they talking about? Sergio is a great champion, so that pisses me off. He has never avoided anyone and wanted to make it clear he wouldn't avoid Golovkin. So in typical Sergio fashion, on the first business day after Golovkin's fight, he made it clear to us that he has no issue fighting Golovkin."

Lewkowicz said that Martinez told him he would embrace the fight.

"Sergio said he would toy with him for 12 rounds," Lewkowicz said. "He said, 'I want to prove I am the best and I will fight him.' But I won't let Sergio fight him with one knee or without another fight first. I am the adviser, and I advise him not to take GGG in the next fight. He needs to be 100 percent, not 99 percent.

"This guy is really tough, but you can't compare the quality of the opposition. GGG got a washed-up fighter in Macklin, after Martinez knocked him out [in 2012]. Many reporters say Martinez is afraid of Golovkin. It gets me upset. I love Martinez like my own son and I won't put him in when he is not 100 percent, but look who he has faced -- Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, Sergei Dzinziruk, Macklin. He beat them all, and they were never the same after. K2 Promotions say they have GGG, but Lou DiBella and me, we have a fighter who is 'Triple-A.'"