Kazakhstan’s hard-punching knockout machine Gennady Golovkin is being hailed by many as one of the future stars of boxing, and his explosive finishes have done nothing to diminish those opinions.
But Ireland’s Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 knockouts) will look to put an end to the hype when he faces Golovkin on Saturday night in Mashantucket, Conn., (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET).
This is seen as a step up in opposition for the WBA and IBO middleweight champion Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs), and Macklin, having been in the ring with the likes of Sergio Martinez and Felix Strum, feels confident going in.
“When you step up levels and another one, and another one, you step up and it becomes more natural to be there,” Macklin said. “This time, it’s my third world title shot and I’m going to seize the opportunity. He’s a world champ, but I’m the more proven fighter. I’m more seasoned, experienced, and I’ve fought better opposition.”
Macklin believes his professional opponents have been far better than Golovkin’s, but he says their amateur experiences can are comparable. “Mack the Knife,” as he has been dubbed, says those records point toward an evenly matched fight come Saturday.
“In the amateurs, we fought mutual opponents, and we’re about 50-50,” Macklin said. “He beat a guy that beat me and I beat a guy that beat him and we beat some of the same guys. I turned pro at 18, I think he was 24-25 when he turned pro, so when he was winning world [amateur] championships, I was having 12-round wars.
“The bottom line is, as a professional, I’m the more experienced fighter and I’m going to make that experience count for me.”
Golovkin has been to 10 rounds only once in his career. Macklin believes if he can get the fight into the championship rounds, he will have a distinct advantage.
“You go on in and take each round as it comes, but it is a fight I do see going into later rounds,” Macklin said. “It will be action-packed, intense, the pace will be hot and heavy, and it could get grueling in there, but I’ve been in grueling fights, he hasn’t. I think the experience will help me. It’s always easier going somewhere the second time.”
Macklin is well aware of Golovkin’s knockout percentage (23 of his 26 fights), but he also believes fighting someone with this kind of power puts him more on his game.
“I mean you make sure to be sharp and there’s not as much room for error,” Macklin said. “Your reaction time and reflexes have to be more finely tuned. My experience with fights where I’m in with guys with the reputation of being big punchers is that it’s always brought the best out in me.”
That said, Golovkin should not sleep on Macklin’s power, either.
“I’ve had 20 knockouts in 29 wins and my 29 opponents are better than the opposition he’s fought,” Macklin said. “It’s possible they’re underestimating it, I don’t know how they view it, but I hope so.”
The middleweight picture will become increasingly clear after this fight, and so will Golovkin’s status as a rising mega-star in the sport. After issuing tough challenges to Sturm and Martinez and falling just short, Macklin is determined to make this an exciting, demanding fight that will not only test his opponent but let the world know that they have the wrong man pegged as the next 160-pound kingpin.
“You’ll have two middleweight stars who are both strong, (have) good chins and want to come forward and impose themselves,” Macklin said. “It’s not rocket science (figuring out) what kind of fight it will be.”