01 December 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Ricky Hatton has revealed that he is hoping to secure Matthew Macklin a crack at IBF middleweight champion Sebastian Sylvester next year.
Macklin has an incredible year, taking out Wayne Elcock inside three wins to win the British title before vacating that strap to set up a bout with European champion Amir Asikainen, who was dispatched in just under three minutes.
Macklin is now hoping to cap a remarkable 12 months by turning in an impressive showing in front of his Irish fans when he meets Rafa Sosa Pintos at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday night.
Should he come through this bout unscathed, and a proposed European title defence against Dmitry Pirog in the early stages of next year, Hatton, Macklins promoter, plans to match his charge with Sylvester.
“Matthew’s performance against Asikainen proves that hes up there with the best in the world – he was superb and thoroughly professional,” said Hatton, who will be ringside in Dublin this weekend.
“Asikainen, remember, was rated as high as sixth in the world and this wasnt a lucky one-punch win. It was the result of years of hard work and dedication. When he came to join me as his promoter I promised that I would do all I could to get him to the top. I have sparred with him often enough to know that he has the ability to go all the way.
“Now I have to keep my word and I will. We need to work very carefully on Matthew’s fights next year and a challenge against newly crowned IBF champion Sebastian Sylvester – over whom Asikainen holds a win – is one possibility.”
Macklin, meanwhile, insists that he is not afraid of anyone in the middleweight division.
“People have been saying that Dmitry Pirogs a dangerous fighter. Ive watched him and theres no doubt hes very good but I’m not a bit bothered about fighting him or anyone else, for that matter,” he said.
“Id take on any of the champions right now including Kelly Pavlik. I dont think there are too many big fights out there for Pavlik at the moment so if that fight came my way Id jump at it. I believe Ive the skills, the power and the chin to beat him.”
Macklin, though, would also love to go toe-to-toe with Limerick southpaw Andy Lee.
“Ideally I want to get past Pirog and then fight for a World title but if that doesnt come off then I think a voluntary defence of my European title against Andy would make a lot of sense,” he explained.
“It would be an easy fight to make, Im managed by Brian Peters and Brians promoted all Andys fights in Ireland so its a natural fight. Theres no bad blood between us or anything, it would be strictly business. Andys a nice lad, in fact I watched the Pacquiao and Cotto fight with him after his last fight in Limerick and we had a good laugh about fighting each other.
“Hes told me personally that hes up for the fight so its definitely another option for next year although a World title fight is what Im really pushing for right now.”
Macklins clash with Pintos headlines the Sierra Fight Night at the National Stadium, Dublin on Saturday. The undercard features two Irish title fights with Dublin Dublins Paul Hyland making the first defence of his Irish Super Bantamweight title against Eugene Heagney while another popular Dubliner, Anthony Fitzgerald will also feature in Irish title action.
Unbeaten Cavan Lightweight Andy Murray also makes his return to the ring on Saturday night having suffered a broken collarbone in September. Cork based Cuban sensation Luis Garcia will look to extend his perfect record on the undercard alongside unbeaten Dundalk Lightweight Michael Kelly and Omaghs Damian Taggart.
Tickets for the Sierra Fight Night priced from 40 are available from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit ticketmaster.ie) and all usual outlets.