18 November 2009 – By Cormac Campbell
With Andy Lee boxing one month in Limerick and European middleweight champion Matthew Macklin headlining in Dublin the next, one could be forgiven for believing that promoter Brian Peters has plans to see the duo square off.
Suffice to say that such a bout, at a venue such as The O2 or Thomond Park, would be the biggest all-Irish duel in recent memory.
But in boxing, timing is everything. Macklin must first defeat Rafael Sosa Pintos (34-4) on December 5 and then mandatory challenger Dimitriy Pirog in January.
Lee, for his part, is unlikely to remain idle and, as such, any match-up between the two would appear destined for the spring/summer of next year. Thats if both fighters avoid cuts, defeat or any other flies in the ointment in the interim.
One such impediment would be a World Title shot for Macklin. After all, the Birmingham/Tipperary man is certainly deserving of a chance having evolved into something close to a complete – albeit work-starved – fighter in 2009.
“Ive only had 4 rounds in 12 months, fair enough I won the British and European titles in that time, but to get a few rounds would be good,” he told irish-boxing.com.
“Ive two fights coming up, one in Dublin in December in the Stadium and then a title defence early in the New Year.
“After the mandatory Ill be looking for the World title. If that doesnt happen then Id have a voluntary defence of the European and I would think that Andy would be in pole position for that.”
Whilst Macklin feels Lee is deserving of a shot, he admits that the Limerick man is still recovering from defeat to Brian Vera in March 2008.
“Andy is a friend and I dont want to see him get beat,” he added. “He is still rebuilding his confidence and he is taking steps in the right direction.”
As such, there is a school of thought that Lee vs Macklin is a dish that would be best left to simmer until the tail end of 2010 at the very least in order to ensure that both men enter the ring as equals.
“Ideally you would like it for a world title to maximise the potential,” croons promoter Brian Peters, who has a strong role in guiding the careers of both men.
We have, however, seen best laid plans crumble before notably in relation to John Duddys chances of a crack at Kelly Pavlik. The boxing fans out there would argue that Lee vs Macklin is big enough now to make it happen and Andy Lee seems to agree.
“Obviously Macklin is the champion,” Lee told a post-fight press conference after outpointing Affif Belghecham.
“His brother is sitting there (laughs) so I cant say too much. There is no problem between us. We had a little chat today and it is a natural fight. When we fight it is going to be a big fight so it would be nice to have the financial benefits of that. Even a European title fight would be great. July or August in Thomond Park would be great for both of us.”
Only time will tell if Lee vs Macklin is a fight that will happen, but one thing is for sure 20 year from now Irish boxing fans do not want to have to sit and discuss who would have won if the two had met.