Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin is not fazed by the fact that world champion Sergio Martinez is such a heavy favorite for their March 17 fight, and tells the BBC that he's very confident that he can pull the upset, and that his improvements and his fighting style will make a big difference in the bout.
"It's a difficult fight, no doubt, but he's not unbeatable. I have the tools to beat him," Macklin told BBC WM. "The media can build you up but no-one's a monster, he's a man, and when he gets hit on the nose it'll hurt."
... "He's a really good fighter, what he does he does well. He's slick, an awkward southpaw, lots of lateral movement and has good reflexes and good timing."
... "I feel like I'm getting better and better. I've had frustrating times when I've been inactive but I feel that's kept me fresh for all these years. I feel like my hand speed's improving and I'm getting sharper and the reflexes are better, I'm just becoming a better fighter."
Macklin (28-3, 19 KO) is training in the United States under Buddy McGirt for this fight. The two had worked together in the past, but in Macklin's recent bouts he was led by ace UK trainer Joe Gallagher. The parting of ways was amicable and more a geographical decision.
I think there's some intrigue to this fight. Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KO) is the real world champion and deserves his role as the heavy favorite. He's become a top five guy on pound-for-pound lists, often as high as No. 3, and he's a terrific fighter, a late bloomer who has really come alive since 2009. He's the rare fighter in his thirties with a fluffy record who actually proved it wasn't a fraud when he stepped up the competition.
Style-wise, Macklin's going to be Macklin, or at least I hope he will be. Martinez is slick, he's fast, he's got decent power, and he's very awkward, a very non-traditional fighter. Macklin, meanwhile, is a straight-ahead fighter, not totally a brawler, and not crude, but a basic guy who fights with his heart over his head pretty often. He's solid, he's tough, and he's willing to take shots.
Then there's the fact that Martinez is 37 years old. He's spry for 37, to be sure, but you just never know. Guys with his style do tend to flame out at a certain point, as their success is owed largely to speed and reflexes, which are two of the first things to go when a fighter starts truly aging.
I don't know, I think I'm buying into this one. I still favor Martinez strongly, as I assume just about everyone does, but I'm expecting a good fight here. Macklin's right, I believe, that Martinez isn't Superman. But I also can't help but recall that Macklin didn't look too hot himself all of two fights again, battling through a win over Ruben Varon. I see this one as sort of a wild card fight -- a lot of things could happen here, based on how good they both are strictly on this one night.