By Jonny Stapleton
As the greatest Middleweight in the world Sergio Martinez has set the 160 pounds bar high.
However, just like the sliotar, that comes from hurl of the legendary Tipperary stars that joined him in training this week, Matthew Macklin is planning to sail over the bar when he challenges the Pound for Pound no.3 in Madison Square Garden on March 17.
Macklin, who played host to All Ireland winners Lar Corrbett and Eion Kelly in New York, plans to go from former Premier county underage hurler to the world’s premier middleweight.
‘Mack The Knife’ is intent to prove he can cut it at the very top by bringing the kind of passion and intensity synonymous with Croke Park on All Ireland final day to the boxing Mecca on St Patricks Day.
The former British and European title holder is prepared for war and is confident he will harvest the fruits of his hard labour in the Garden.
“No matter if it goes one round or twelve, I don’t believe Martinez is going to be able to cope with the intensity and burning desire that I will bring into that ring with me at Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Macklin in the Trinity Boxing Club in New York.
“I’ve had a great camp, sparring has been terrific and most of the hard work has been done at this point. The next few weeks now are just about fine tuning and peaking for fight night. It’s been great working with Buddy (McGirt) again. He’s a very knowledgeable boxing guy so it’s great to soak that up. I’m ready for war and whatever happens in that ring.”
Not only did Birmingham born Macklin play for Tip’ as a teenager the fighter he has always been a keen supporter of the counties hurlers.
Three time All Ireland winner Lar Corrbett, who was in New York with Eion Kelly and Macklin to rally New Yorks Irish community to come out in support of the Irish fighter, felt it only right he should return the favour and support his county man as he prepares for boxing battle.
“Matthew has always been a great supporter of Tipperary Hurling over the years, through thick and thin, so we felt it was only fair that we return that support. There is huge interest in this fight back in Tipperary. I know there are loads of people traveling over to New York for the fight but for the people not traveling over, they will be glued to the television and the whole country of Ireland is behind him,” two time All Ireland winner Corbett explained.
Tipperary captain, the counties all time top scorer and former Macklin team mate Kelly is certainly one for the big occasion, but even he has been taken aback by the enormity of the middleweight clash.
“I’ve known Matthew since we played hurling together as kids and it’s great to see him living his dream now on the big stage. The hype in the US for the fight is phenomenal. There are big billboards in Times Square and huge media interest in the fight, but Matthew seems to take it all in stride. We came over to show our support to him because it’s an absolutely massive night, not just for Matthew but for all of Ireland. To have someone competing at that level, fighting a guy considered to be up there with the likes of Mayweather and Pacquiao on St. Patrick’s Day at Madison Square Garden is amazing.”