Matthew Macklin emerged on the wrong side of a highly controversial split decision when he challenged for Felix Sturm's WBA world middleweight title in Cologne on June 25. Former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who was covering the fight for EPIX, a U.S. television channel, said that the decision was a “highway robbery” and one of the worst decisions he had ever seen while a viewers poll on the website of German TV network SAT.1 spoke volumes with 76% of Germans polled believing that Macklin had won the fight as opposed to just 24% for Sturm.
Since the fight, Sturm has repeatedly claimed that a contract for the rematch has been sent to Macklin and he has accused his Irish rival of ducking out of a possible return bout. Sturm's own promotional company even went so far as to design a poster for a proposed rematch in Cologne in November. However, Macklin has yet to see any contract for the rematch and believes that the whole exercise is a publicity stunt designed to make it look like Sturm is pursuing the rematch when in reality the German wants no part of it.
“After the fight I felt it was important to stay dignified and not whine or moan about the decision. It was a blatant robbery and everyone saw that so I let other people have their say on the decision and some of the world’s most respected boxing people all registered their disgust. The decision spoke for itself so I didn’t really need to say anything.
“I don't believe in negotiating in public either, I think it's unprofessional but obviously Felix has made certain statements that I feel have to be corrected. For example, time and time again he has claimed in the media that we were sent a contract for the rematch within a couple of days of the fight. It's now been over seven weeks since the fight and we have yet to see any contract for a rematch. My manager Brian Peters has had talks with them and there has been some emails back and forth but no sign of any contract.
“The terms they spoke about were a joke, they were only willing to pay me a marginally bigger purse then for the first fight but the options they wanted on my future fights were ridiculous. When I beat Felix in the rematch they wanted 40% of my earnings over the next two years. It was crazy stuff and to me it just looked like Felix only wanted the rematch if he could use it as a “cash out” fight to see him into retirement and then use me as his pension fund for the next couple of years.”
Macklin recently signed a lucrative promotional contract with New York-based promoter Lou DiBella, of DiBella Entertainment, who also promotes Sergio Martinez, the man universally recognized as the best middleweight in the world and a clash with the Argentinean is now very much on his radar.
“For Sturm to name call and diminish a fighter who kicked his ass on home soil is disgraceful,” said DiBella. “He lost and he knows that he as champion needs the rematch for his legacy. A real champion would fight the fight on neutral ground under fair terms. Felix has spent many years conducting himself as a true champion; act like it now.”
“As it stands the plan is to pursue a fight with Martinez for St. Patrick's weekend in Madison Square Garden next year, but if Sturm's people were to actually come back with a realistic offer then I would definitely want the Sturm rematch,” said Macklin. “Why wouldn't I? It would mean me getting my hands on the WBA title before the end of the year and make a clash with Martinez next year even bigger because it would be a unification fight.
“The Sturm rematch would be massive in Germany. I've been told from sources close to Felix that the first fight generated just under five million euros in revenue. That's serious money and the rematch would be even bigger. I'm not even looking for a 50/50 split to go back to his hometown and face the same obstacles all over again in terms of getting a fair decision, but the terms they are talking about are comical and insulting.
“I know what I'm going to be up against going out there again, I saw the scorecards afterwards and one judge gave Felix five of the first six rounds! I don't think even the most biased Sturm fan could have given him more than a single round in the first half of the fight.
“If he really wants the fight then why doesn't he put in a serious offer in a contract instead of spending his time moaning in the media, calling me a dirty fighter and a coward. The bottom line is Felix promotes himself so if he genuinely wants to make the fight as badly as he says he does then he can make it very, very easily.
“Alternatively, now that I'm promoted by Lou, if Sturm is really serious about setting the record straight why doesn't he leave the scene of the crime and fight me in New York with neutral officials and prove that he is a true champion.”