This week was a quiet one for in-ring action, another pause for breath during a hectic summer schedule. However, there was plenty of action outside the ring. There were three significant announcements this week, with two in particular of interest to Irish fans.
On Tuesday, the venue was finally announced for Carl Frampton’s September 6th IBF super-featherweight title clash with Kiko Martinez. The Spaniard is well known to Irish boxing fans for his one round destruction of Bernard Dunne in 2007. Martinez and Frampton have already met once before, with Frampton winning a 9th round stoppage in February of last year at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena.
However, the rematch is for Martinez’ IBF world title. A bigger fight demanded a bigger venue and Frampton’s team have not disappointed. A specially constructed 16,000 seat arena at Belfast’s historic Titanic Quarter will play host to the titanic tussle. The prospect of Frampton and Martinez doing battle in the shadow of the famous Harland & Wolff cranes Samson and Goliath promises to be a unique sporting occasion and credit must go to Cyclone Promotions for the ambitious plan.
Speaking of ambitious plans, Matchroom Promotions chief Eddie Hearn has confirmed that Matthew Macklin will fight in Dublin on August 30th with Dublin’s National Stadium the most likely venue. No opponent for Macklin’s August bout has yet been announced. Although currently unconfirmed, and dependent on Macklin actually winning in August, the plan appears to be to use the August fight as a chance to set up an all-Irish middleweight showdown with Limerick’s Andy Lee in November.
Hearn has been on a roll in the domestic scene for the last few years. He successfully made Ricky Burns a star in Scotland and understands the appeal of a domestic showdown such as Froch-Groves and the potential rematch between Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew. A clash between Macklin and Lee may not be of greatest significance on a world title scale but Hearn understands that an all-Irish clash in Dublin could prove hugely popular, as well as the fight having the potential to be an entertaining one.
On the other side of the Atlantic there was a more predictable and less ambitious announcement. Floyd Mayweather has revealed that his next fight would indeed be a September rematch with Marcos Maidana. The fight has all the hallmarks of some of Mayweather’s more criticised decisions. The Maidana rematch has an obvious built-in storyline which would make it easier to promote to the general public.
Their first meeting had some controversy in Maidana’s selection of gloves being rejected by Mayweather and team. In addition, Maidana did better than expected against a surprisingly lacklustre Mayweather. However, despite all that, Mayweather still clearly won the fight. He showed his famous ability to adjust mid-fight and dominated the second half of the fight.
The fact that Mayweather is approaching retirement and may have as few as three fights left, coupled with the fact that he did appear to have Maidana figured out by the end of the fight means the announcement of the rematch was greeted with muted responses. Even Mayweather himself seems aware of the somewhat disappointing nature of the announcement. He is already looking beyond the Maidana rematch and decided to attach a teaser to his announcement, namely that he has a big surprise lined up for next May.
The lull in boxing action is also good chance to issue a reminder to Irish fight fans about the upcoming bouts that feature Irish fighters. On Saturday night, Donegal’s Jason Quigley will make his professional debut. Quigley won middleweight gold at last summer’s European Amateur Championships and followed that up with silver at the World Championships in October.
On Saturday he will make his debut at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on the undercard of a show headlined by Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. If Quigley can emulate his amateur successes in the professional game he may one day go from sharing a card with Alvarez to sharing the ring with him.
Two weeks after Quigley’s debut, Cork’s own resident Cuban heavyweight will be back in action. Mike Perez takes on American Bryant Jennings at Madison Square Garden knowing a win makes him mandatory challenger for the WBC Heavyweight title currently held by Bermane Stiverne. It seems strange that a Cork-based fighter is literally one win away from a heavyweight title fight and yet remains largely ignored by the mainstream media. Hopefully should Mike prevail and earn his title shot, his profile in Ireland will begin to reflect his standing in the world of boxing.
Michael McCarthy, Pundit Arena.