By Jonny Stapleton
Irish middleweights Matthew Macklin and Andy Lee are battling it out for the right to fight pound for pound world number 3 Sergio Martinez in New York on St Patrick’s Day.
The duo won’t come face to face in the ring but are competing in a race for the right to challenge the WBC Diamond champion.
Since avenging his Brian Vera loss last week Limerick southpaw Lee has been claiming he is in Martinez pole, but Macklin officially put his name forward as a credible candidate yesterday.
Lou DiBella, who promotes all three middleweights, has said he wants Irish Argentine March 17 clash, but has yet to confirm which of the Irish contenders will get a tilt first.
Former European champion ‘Mack The Knife’ says he’s determined to be the man to end “Maravilla” reign and stated his case yesterday.
“I know that Sergio would like a mega fight with either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao but he’s stated himself that he’s not big enough to move up to Super Middleweight so the most likely scenario is that he will take on the next leading challenger at middleweight. My name seems to be cropping up amongst the boxing writers and fans on Twitter and Facebook as the best challenge out there,” Macklin, who has recently relocated to New York explained.
“It’s an easy fight to make, we’re both promoted by Lou DiBella and I think it’s a natural fight for Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day next year. I don’t think there would be a spare seat in the Garden, even thinking of the atmosphere at that fight gets me excited about it! I have no intention of slagging him off but obviously I’m very confident that I would beat him. I think our styles would gel for a sensational fight and I’m confident our promoter Lou DiBella can put it together for Sergio’s next defence.”
Meanwhile fellow Irish contender Andy Lee believes he is the only 160 pound fighter that can dethrone the middleweight ring king.
The Kronk fighter, who said he would only fight Macklin if a title or a massive purse was on the line, believes he has earned his title shot and believes there is no one more deserving or equipped to the fight world champion.
“I believe I’m the only middleweight out there that can really beat Martinez because I am the only one who has something different to offer him,” Lee explained.
“I am firmly a middleweight contender now. I worked my way up with two good performances on HBO, I’ve had 28 fights, I’ve avenged my only loss. Who else is out there that could challenge him? There’s nobody else out there who’s in a better position than me. I’m active, I’m younger, and I’m ready for it. Now is my time. My time is coming soon.”