By Paddy Appleton
As Matthew Macklin fell to the canvas in Madison Square Garden last Saturday night you would have been forgiven for thinking it was the end of a long hard road for the Irishman.
Macklin had spent the past 10 weeks spilling blood, sweat and tears in his quest to beat one of the best boxers in the modern era, but unfortunately he came up short.
He walked out of the ring and arena with his head held high, knowing he had given everything and even said of in his interview that he ‘hoped I haven’t let anyone down.’
Humble words, humble words indeed from a powerful fighter we are proud to call our own. But what next for Matthew? Just where does he go from this ultimately crushing defeat?
The Birmingham born fighter had shown tireless effort and conducted himself perfectly during the build-up and throughout the fight, a model sportsman who had brought Irish boxing one of the biggest nights in its history.
But unfortunately Sergio Martinez had that little bit more in his locker, and when he brought it out to devastating effect Macklin and his fans were left stunned, literally.
Macklin has brought his boxing credibility in the US right up there with the best of the crowd-pullers, but who would help him pull in that crowd?
There’s the possibility of getting it on with fellow Irishman and American darling Andy Lee, but having just fought for a world title what exactly would Lee bring to the table for Macklin?
The fans would go for it but it might struggle to headline a big card in America though it would be a good support fight, although I don’t think Andy or Matthew want to play supporting roles these days.
There’s the possibility of a rematch with Martinez perhaps but that might not be the right fight just now for the 29 year old. Also there is the lure of a bout with fighters Martinez has disposed of such as Paul Williams or Darren Barker.
These are all interesting match-ups, and fights that Macklin might feel he ‘owes’ to the fans that followed him so devoutly during the Martinez fight.
However, there is only one fight that is owed to anyone and that’s a rematch with Macklin from Felix Sturm.
Macklin lost bravely in Germany that night too, but it was a much closer affair than the Martinez clash with a split decision costing the Irishman.
Felix Sturm is a great champion and he has fought the best, but much like the Klitschkos and Lucian Bute, he likes fighting in his own garden.
Sturm’s particular garden is Germany, but perhaps he should leave the garden just like he did in 2004 when he took on the great Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas albeit he lost that evening.
The WBA champion beat Macklin on a split decision that night in June, but now Matthew has shown by mixing it with Martinez that his performance against Sturm was no fluke.
Surely the German owes him another fight to settle the discontent felt by Macklin and many commentators following the excruciatingly close fight.
Sturm versus Macklin in America would bring the crowds out in their droves, and it’s a fight that would sell well on television as well.
Maybe even the United Kingdom or Ireland could host such a great fight, just imagine it; a credible world title fight on the Emerald Isle, it’s the things dreams are made of. Would Sturm fancy such a risk though?
Matthew Macklin has just fought valiantly for a world title; he does not want to take a step back in his career by having his next fight against an unworthy opponent.
Felix Sturm drew his last fight in a close encounter with England’s Martin Murray, and now Sturm should turn his attentions back to Macklin and show us the champion he really is by taking on the Irishman again.
If Macklin doesn’t get the opportunity from Sturm who do you think he should fight? Perhaps taking on Martin Murray is the way to go? Let us know your views by commenting underneath.