The sanctioning body silliness hasn't truly resolved, as the WBC hasn't yet sanctioned the Feb. 4 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Marco Antonio Rubio bout as a title fight for the "champ" Chavez. But the official announcement of that fight means that Sergio Martinez will indeed be fighting Matthew Macklin at the Madison Square Garden Theater on March 17, St. Paddy's Day. Whether Martinez is fighting for any crown is still up in the air, as he announced two days ago that he was basically done jumping through hoops for the WBC. They'd offered him a ceremonial "diamond" middleweight bout in place of the real middleweight title which he gave up, because he refused to fight the WBC's top rated challenger, Sebastian Zbik, this summer. Martinez defended the "diamond" belt against Darren Barker in October, with the understanding that as "emeritus champion" he'd get a crack at Chavez, who was handed the belt after he beat Zbik in a scrap for the vacated strap. But Chavez doesn't seem hugely keen on giving Martinez a crack, at least not just yet, so Martinez said hell with it. Word is he is still hoping that the WBC rules that Chavez hasn't been playing fair or nice, and they give him the real belt. They could do that as they basically often make up the rules as they go along…
I have lost the last of my readers at this point, haven't I? This sort of stuff is of interest to only a fraction of sports fans, and is the sort of chicanery which helps turn off people from the sweet science.
All of this could benefit Macklin, the Irishman who moved to NYC to get his name into the mix. He's tearing it up in training, focusing on Martinez, while Martinez is embroiled in ancillary stuff.
I spoke to Macklin (age 29; 28-3 with 19 KOs) a short time ago to get his take on a Martinez-Macklin clash.
"In my mind I'm not an underdog, but among 95 percent I am," he said. "My last fight was my first world title fight, I had me winning clearly over Felix Sturm in June in Germany. I'm not afraid of anyone's backyard. I think people's perceptions will change after March."
And if Sergio fights at the same level he did against Barker on Oct. 1 (a KO11 win)?
"If the same Sergio shows up against me he'll get knocked out," Macklin said. "Barker is not a bad boxer, I don't think he's a hard man. I'm a hard man. I'll never, ever stop, never accept to just survive, I'd rather get knocked out. You lose, you get KO'd, you still feel like s--- the next day."
Martinez (48-2-2) is 36, has lost a step and battled some injuries. I recommend you take Macklin seriously as a challenger and believe this will be a solid scrap. The rumor mill says it might show up on Showtime, as Martinez has ditched HBO for the time being, and we suspect his promoter Lou DiBella is enjoying the new competitive spirit in the air as Showtime's new boss Stephen Espinoza seeks to make a splash in the New Year.