Despite two Irish fighters losing in fights for World Titles last month, 2011 may yet prove to be a successful year for our own with, it seems, another pair of World Title shots to look forward to.
Paul McCloskey is continuing his preparations for his fight against Amir Khan on April 16th, but one man who won’t be fighting on that card is Matthew Macklin. The Tipperary native was due to take on Khoren Gevor in an Eliminator fight for the WBA Middleweight Title at the MEN Arena that night, but has withdrawn with promoter Ricky Hatton citing ‘contractual issues’ in an interview on RTE Radio.
However, word on the grapevine is that the real reason for this decision is that Macklin is set to get a straight shot at a World Title, probably against WBA ‘Super’ Champion Felix Sturm. The German last fought in February, so a fight in the next two months would not be out of the question. Regular WBA Champion Gennady Golovkin and IBF Champion Sebastian Sylvester are also both regarded as options, but Sturm is the most likely opponent for the Tipperary native.
The fight is fraught with danger however. Macklin was initially due to fight Winky Wright in the US on April 9th, before the American was injured, and now that he has pulled out of the Gevor fight it means his training schedule, presumably aimed at peaking this month, will now have to be changed. Also, Sturm has never lost a decision in his homeland and if a fight is to be made with the German, it’s likely that Macklin will have to travel. He’d best work on his knockout punch...
Speaking of judging decisions, it was interesting this week to read Katie Taylor tell The Score that boxing ‘is a corrupt sport at times.’ The statement is not news in itself, especially coming after Taylor’s recent shocking loss in Bulgaria, but it does serve to underline the difficulties facing Ireland’s amateur boxers ahead of the London Olympics.
For Taylor, there will be only one Qualifying event – the World Championships in China next May. Failure to progress to at least the Quarter Finals there, be it due to an off-day, a lucky punch or questionable judging will end any hopes the Bray woman has of winning an Olympic medal, long before the Games begin.
For Ireland’s men, the Qualifying process begins much sooner than that with this year’s World Championships in Azerbaijan in September. While not their only chance of reaching the London Games, it is one of the best for the Irish boxers who will continue to jockey for places on the team in tournaments in Finland and Poland next week.
Two years ago, Kelly Pavlik was one of the hottest things in boxing. As a middleweight champion who had twice beaten Jermaine Taylor, the Youngstown native was likable, a big ticket seller, and always entertaining.
However, alcoholism and a staph infection almost halted his career, and Pavlik is to make his comeback in his first fight in over a year on the undercard of the Shane Mosley – Manny Pacquiao fight next month. Pavlik has moved up to the 168 pound division, and will take on the unbeaten Alfonso Lopez. The show is set to be a cracker –Humberto Soto is also due to take on Urbano Antillon in a rematch of one of the best fights of 2010.
Congratulations to veteran promoter Bob Arum, who this week celebrates the forty-fifth anniversary of his first show. Arum has put on many of the most famous events in the sport’s history, including over 500 World Title fights. His Top Rank company are also going as strong as ever, and will put on the aforementioned Pacquiao-Mosley card on May 7th.
When asked about his career so far, the 79 year old said “It’s a good start.”
Tributes have been paid to former broadcaster and trainer Gil Clancy. The Hall of Famer passed away at the age of 88 on Thursday. Best known for his work with Emile Griffith, Clancy also trained a host of champions and contenders before beginning a career on US TV in the 1980’s.
This weekend is a fairly quiet one for boxing fans, though Setanta Ireland will have live coverage of Ivan Calderon’s bid to gain revenge over Giovani Segura in their WBO Light Flyweight Title fight from Mexico in the early hours of Sunday morning.
This Week in Boxing History
This past Thursday marked the 21st anniversary of one of the finest nights in one of the most under-rated boxing careers. An all-action fighter, Terry Norris was exciting as anyone in the ring, particularly from 1988-1993. He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005, after a career which saw him win four World Titles and the support of many hardcore fans. ‘Terrible’ Terry’s gung-ho style is best encapsulated in this devastating first round knockout of John Mugabi on March 31st, 1990. It was Ring Magazine’s Knockout of the Year.