Former European middleweight champion Matthew Macklin is under no illusions about the size of the task in front of him when the Irishman tackles WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm on June 25th in Cologne and will be looking to add to his winning record against German opposition.
The 28 year-old, who faces the three-time world champion in his first shot at a version of the world title, is expecting a tough fight against the man four years his senior and aims to become the first boxer to beat the titleholder since July 2006 when Javier Castillejo stopped him in ten rounds.
“I rate Sturm highly,” Macklin told World Boxing News.
“Apart from [Sergio] Martinez, who leads the pack because of his win against [Kelly] Pavlik, if u looked at the top ten middleweights in the world, Sturm is the name that jumps out at you as he has been a dominant force for almost eight years or so.”
The Birmingham born-Irishman intends on harnessing all his amateur experience against the well-schooled Sturm, whom Macklin has followed for many years, back to when the 38-fight veteran was campaigning under his birth name and claiming numerous honours as a youngster.
“I remember him well as an amateur when he was Adnan Catic,” explained the former British champion.
“He was absolute top drawer. He won everything bar the Olympics, where he lost in the quarters to Jermain Taylor.
“He has a great jab, tight defence and is very sharp. He isn’t awkward though and isn’t a big puncher. He is pretty basic, although he does those basics very well.”
Macklin has no qualms about travelling to claim the world crown, with the bout taking place at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany. It’s the same venue that heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko dominated Shannon Briggs over twelve punishing rounds last year and Macklin is relishing the test.
“I am pretty well travelled as an amateur and in the pro’s,” he stated.
“I’ve boxed all over the place. I don’t see it being a problem, in fact I think I’ll relish going into the lions den.
“I have always done well against the Germans when I was amateur. I KO’d Dennis Kronemann in a round and beat Eduard Gutkneckt 14-6 on points in a multi-nations tournament and I am confident of beating Sturm.”
The dangerous Sturm has just two defeats in his ten-year career, one of which was a contentious decision loss to hall of famer Oscar De La Hoya, who became a six-weight world champion against Sturm in Las Vegas, but most people who watched the fight believed the German should have got the decision.
“I watched him against De La Hoya, I thought it was close,” said Macklin.
“De La Hoya threw more, but Sturm landed the better shots, he was probably a bit unlucky not to get the nod,” added the challenger.