European middleweight champion Matthew Macklin will take on former pound for pound slickster Ronald “Winky Wright on the undercard of Juan Manuel Marquez v Erik Morales at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 9th.

Macklin was scheduled to defend his European strap against British and Commonwealth champion Darren Barker, but the Birmingham boxer looks likely to vacate the belt to pursue his big chance in the States.

Euro Champ Macklin with trainer Joe Gallagher
Joe Gallagher told British boxers last week that the only way ‘a Macklin v Darren Barker fight’ would’nt happen is if his boxer was offered a world title eliminator or better, which as now happened with this ‘Winky’ fight.
Barker can then contest the vacant title , he once held and in gave up, against another opponent (TBC), with a potential fight between the pair later in the year still a possibility.

Macklin, 28, will travel to the US for his third fight on American soil after two successful trips in 2005, when he scored stoppage victories in Atlantic City and Philadelphia against relatively unknown opponents Anthony Little and Leo Laudat.

He now faces former pound for pound number one in the world Wright, (51-5-1) who has not long turned 39 and will have been out of the ring almost two years to the day when the fighters meet, since losing a one-sided bout against Paul “The Punisher” Williams in 2009.

It marks a huge step up for Macklin (30-2-19-ko’s) against one of the best-known fighters in America and could really make his name in the States if he can put in a good performance against an aging Wright, who struggled as a 37 year-old and has been out of the ring for a prolonged period.

“The winner clearly is set up for a middleweight world championship fight,” Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer told “For each guy this is an extremely important fight.

Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright

“I think the story here is that you have Matthew Macklin, who has worked himself up the rankings and put together a pretty impressive streak of wins and now is considered one of the best contenders from Europe, so for him this is a big step up.

“A win over Winky Wright will make him a serious contender for the one of the world titles.

“For Winky Wright to come back and fight against an opponent like Matthew Macklin shows he is serious about coming back. If he wins, he’s in line for one of the middleweight world titles.

“Winky understands this won’t be an easy fight, but he also knows if he wins, he is perfectly positioned. Winky didn’t want just a tune-up fight.”

Macklin is determined to get his shot at at world title this year, he is trained in Manchester by Joe Gallagher and also has had training stints with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood.

Gallagher told British boxers that expects a hard fight, against one of the best  boxers of recent times and insists that a victory would see Macklin ready for a world title challenge against Sergio Martinez, the WBC middleweight champion.

“Well Matthew will be rolling the dices in Vegas and hopefully he can hit the jackpot, Its a big fight, against a big name who is well known to the British fans, he’s fought Ensley Bingham, Steve Foster Snr. Adrian Dodson, good fighters and he beat them over here in Britain. said Gallagher.

Winky Wright is an accomplished fighter, a great fighter and people might be saying he is 39 and he has been beaten in his last two fights, but look who they were against, Paul Williams and Bernard Hopkins, who turned 46 yesterday and was unlucky not to get the decision against Pascall last time out.” – Joe Gallagher

“I’m reading comments already that Macklin cant beat Wright he will have no where to go! Listen that is taking great credit away from Winky Wright.

“Them fighters over there in the States, Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright, they all live the life and look after themselves and that’s why they have a great longevity to their careers.

“Matthew Macklin against Winky Wright is going to be a hard fight, a tough fight and it gives Macklin the chance to pit his wits against one of the best and it will be  a great victory if he can pull it off and it would set him up nicely for the world title against Martinez.” Gallagher added

Interview with Joe Gallagher on Matthew Macklin in 2010 and future plans – Jan 13th

Washington-born Wright has just one victory in nearly five years and will need to fashion a stand-out showing against a young, up and coming Macklin, who has been touted for world honours this year and is ranked highly by all four organisations.

Macklin’s decision to fight Wright could pave the way for St Helens Commonwealth and WBA Inter-Continental champion Martin Murray  (21-0) to challenge Darren Barker (22-0) for the vacant European and full set of domestic honours, including Barkers British title.

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