By Gary Purfield
At a press conference today in New York City, Dibella Entertainment announced that recognized Middleweight Champ Sergio Martinez 48-2-2 (27 KO) will take on Matthew Macklin 28-3 (19 KO) on March 17, 2012 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The fight takes place on St. Patrick’s day and in addition to Ireland’s Macklin, Ireland native Andy Lee will fight in a co-feature.
Martinez has gained plenty of attention recently with his statements that he would no longer fight for the WBC title belts and that he is tired of being avoided by WBC title holder Julio Cesar Chavez. He also expressed his disappointment with how his career has been handled by HBO. While Martinez does not hold any of the four major sanctioning body titles he is widely recognized as the true Middleweight Champion.
Martinez burst onto the boxing scene when he stepped in as a late replacement for Kelly Pavlik to take on Paul Williams at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on December 5, 2009. Martinez lost a very close decision in an action packed fight but received a shot at the man he replaced, Kelly Pavlik on April 17, 2010 to challenge for Pavlik’s WBC and WBO Middleweight titles. Martinez would bloody Pavlik to win a unanimous decision and become the Middleweight Champion. Martinez then avenged his loss to Williams with a brutal one punch knockout win in round two on November 20, 2010.
While 2011 was expected to be a break-out year for Martinez, he was not able to get any major names into the ring. He would knock out Sergey Dzinziruk in eight rounds on March 12, 2011 and Darren Barker in eleven rounds on November 1, 2011. Martinez was previously stripped of the WBO belt and then prior to the Dzinziruk fight Martinez was stripped of the WBC belt for not fighting mandatory Sebastian Zbik who was not approved by HBO. Later, HBO would approve Zbik to fight Julio Cesar Chavez for the vacant WBC belt.
Martinez now looks to move forward, taking on Macklin, who is coming off a close, controversial loss to WBA Middleweight title holder Felix Sturm on June 25, 2011 in Germany.
Andy Lee 27-1 (19 KO) will be featured in the co-main event which will also be aired on HBO. Lee will certainly add to the ticket sales and live audience atmosphere considering he is from Ireland on the St. Patty’s Day card. Lee, who lives with and is trained by Emmanuel Steward, is coming off a dominant ten round unanimous decision win over Brian Vera on October 1, 2011 avenging his sole defeat-a March, 2008 knockout to Vera.
Despite Martinez’s recent comments, the fight will be televised on HBO’s World Championship Boxing.
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