Boxing: Macklin races to stunning win

It took Matthew Macklin less than a minute last night at the Velodrome in Manchester to land the punch that will lead to a world-title fight and potential riches inside the next 12 months.

Macklin dropped world-class Amin Asikainen with a sweet left hook in the opening round and pursued his dazed and confused opponent until the referee called it off after two and a half minutes and declared Macklin the new European middleweight champion.

Now Macklin and his promoter and friend Ricky Hatton will sit down and try to find a route to either World Boxing Council champion Felix Sturm or the International Boxing Federation's incumbent Sebastian Sylvester. The champions are both vulnerable because they are not massive attractions outside of Germany and a fight with Macklin could be a lucrative risk worth taking.

"I hope that all my promotions end up this way," joked Hatton, who has sparred with Macklin. "That was a world-class performance and now he deserves a world-title fight and I will do everything possible to make that happen and to make that happen here in Britain."

Meanwhile, in the latest heavyweight championship fight to slip under the radar, Vitali Klitschko will defend his WBC title against Chris Arreola at the Staples Centre, Los Angeles, tonight.

Klitschko is in many ways the respectable face of a division that has been quiet since Lennox Lewis retired. Arreola, who is trying to become the first heavyweight champion of the world with Mexican descent, will bring some old-fashioned, raw excitement to the fight.

Klitschko is now 38. His body forced him to take a four-year gap, which he ended by winning the title last October, and it is surely a matter of time before he runs out of ambition because there are simply not enough big money fights available to him.

Arreola has a puncher's shot at catching Klitschko on a bad night, but nobody, including Lewis, has managed to drop Klitschko during his 39 fight and 14-year career. The sensible money, which is always scarce in a heavyweight fight, is on Klitschko taking care of a bloody and bruised challenger by about the 10th round.

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