Televised boxing returns to Dublin this weekend on Sky Sports, while one of the most dominant Heavyweight champions in the history of boxing fights on Eurosport against arguably his toughest test to date.
Macklin vs Heiland, Saturday night 7.30pm,
Sky Sports 2
32-year-old Matthew Macklin was born in Birmingham, but due to Irish parents has a strong fanbase in Ireland, and he headlines a Matchroom Boxing card in Dublin as he seeks to land a fourth world title opportunity.
After defeats to Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin, Macklin has been fairly quiet over the past year, despite two points wins over Lamar Russ and Jose Yebes. The middleweight fighter has perhaps overachieved in his career, despite falling short at the top level, and he will view his fight against Argentina’s 24-4-2 Jorge Sebastian Heiland as perhaps his last chance to secure the world title that has always eluded him.
Heiland is fighting out of Argentina for only the second time in his career, and the South American star has failed to secure a defining win over the course of his 30 fight career. Macklin is 31-5 across a 13 year professional journey, but hasn’t looked at his best since a quick KO win over Joachim Alcine in 2012, and has only won three fights since 2010, losing the same amount of bouts in that period, albeit against world class competition.
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Shrewd tipsters might like the looks of Heiland at 15/2, considering Macklin struggled to a majority decision win in his last bout against an average opponent.
Although the winner of this fight jumps the queue to battle Gennady Golovkin, the sensible idea is to just enjoy this battle, and the inevitable raucous crowd, instead of worrying about what comes later.
The Dublin undercard is not packed full of big names, with 12-0 super flyweight Khalid Yafai taking on the late replacement 35-9-2 Everth Briceno in a fight that should end early, as Yafai has a 75% KO ratio, and Briceno has stopped 26 fighters, which is highly impressive at the lower weight classes.
Elsewhere, an all-Irish showdown takes place between Cork’s 17-1 Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan against 16-6 Anthony Fitzgerald, while there are tune ups for Anthony Crolla, Patrick Hyland, Sam Egginton, plus a chance to see Ireland’s Olympic silver medalist John Joe Nevin fight for the first time as a professional in his home country.
Klitschko vs Pulev, Saturday night 8.00pm, Eurosport
Is is now over ten years since Wladimir Klitschko last tasted defeat, and the Ukrainian puts four world title belts on the line as he looks for the 63rd win of his career against Bulgaria’s undefeated Kubrat Pulev.
This fight was initially scheduled for early September, but a bicep injury to Klitschko saw the fight postponed, and it will now take place in Hamburg, Germany, where Wladimir is one of the biggest sporting stars in the country.
An eight-year heavyweight champion, Klitschko has won his last 20 fights, and has specialised in taking the undefeated records of aspiring heavyweights. Alexander Povetkin, Francesco Pianeta, Mariusz Wach, Ruslan Chagaev, Sultan Ibragimov, Calvin Brock and Samuel Peter have all had their undefeated streaks snapped, and Pulev will be wary of that statistic.
However, many of those fighters, including David Haye, struggled with Wladimir’s reach and strength, but the nearly six foot five Pulev, who will weigh more than the Ukrainian on the night, should have no problem with that. Pulev has also impressed against taller opponents in Alexander Dimitrenko and Alexander Ustinov, and has stopped five of his last six opponents.
If there is one weakness in Wladimir, it is his chin, as all three of his defeats have been stoppages, but with the last coming over a decade ago, can it really be considered an achilles heel? This fight is full of intriguing intangibles, and the World Amateur Championships bronze medalist Pulev is a threat, but the bookies have him a 4/1 threat, which perhaps isn’t generous enough.
German undercards are rarely deep, and this is no exception, with the only other notable bout a light heavyweight shoot-out between Eduard Gutknecht and Christian Pawlak.
In non-televised action this week, there are British cards in Grays and Motherwell, a Cruiserweight world title clash in Canada between 12-0 Denton Daley and 20-1 Youri Kayembre Kalenga, while undefeated South African Thomas Oosthuizen squares off against Denis Grachev.