Three weeks before he leads Matt Macklin into the ring at Madison Square Garden, trainer Buddy McGirt says his Irish challenger is shaping up well for the world title match with champion Sergio Martinez on St. Patrick's Day. "The train is running on schedule; by fight night [Macklin] will be ready," the highly rated McGirt declared on Sunday.
A Brentwood, L.I., native and former world welterweight and light middleweight titlist, McGirt has been putting Macklin through his paces in lower Manhattan with the aim of pulling off the upset against Martinez [48-2-2, 27 KOs].
The California-based Argentine, who turned 37 on Tuesday [eight years older than Macklin] holds the World Boxing Council Diamond belt.
"We've been working on defense and being in a position to punch at any time in the fight. We're preparing for 12 hard rounds," said McGirt, whose previous charges have included world champions Antonio Tarver, Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila and the late Arturo "Thunder" Gatti.
Helping Macklin get into fighting form are sparring partners Sechaw Powell, a veteran [26-4] light middleweight from Brooklyn who was once on John Duddy's radar, and 23 year-old youngster Denis Douglin [14-1] who hails from Marlboro, New Jersey.
The two Americans have been hired to work with Macklin because both are southpaws. Martinez is a vastly experienced fighter who also leads with his right hand.
This will be Macklin's second consecutive title match following his disputed points loss to World Boxing Association holder Felix Sturm in Germany last June. That defeat dropped Macklin's record to 28-3 [19 KOs]. The Macklin-Martinez fight will be the main event on DiBella Entertainment's St. Patrick's Day show at The Theater at the Garden.
Dublin-born heavyweight Thomas Hardwick is also leaving no stone unturned ahead of his appearance on the St. Patrick's Day card.
A brick layer with Irish-owned H & F construction company, Hardwick [4-0, 2 KOs] will take the last three weeks off from work to train full time for his match against an opponent to be named.
He's sparring once again with buddy and popular Long Island light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan [12-0, 8 KOs], and with hard hitting local heavyweight Tor Hamer [13-1 9 KOs]. Monaghan is also on the March 17 card.
"I'm working on sitting on my punches, moving the head and cutting off the ring," said Hardwick.
Tickets for the St. Patrick's Day show are priced at $505, $355, $205, $125 and $65. They are available from the Madison Square Garden Box Office, online at ticketmaster.com, or by calling (800) 745-3000. Call DiBella Entertainment at (212) 947-2577, or visit www.dbe1.com and @loudibella on Twitter for more information.
James Moore is back in the gym eyeing a 32,000 pound sterling payday in promoter Eddie Hearn's proposed "Irish Prizefighter" tournament planned for May 5 in Belfast.
Eight Irish middleweights will be selected for the one-day knockout competition whose victor will have to win three fights over the course of a few hours.
"I was contacted at the weekend if I was interested," the Queens-based Moore told the Echo.
He's been back in the gym since Christmas and is interested. His father, Jim Moore, the now retired amateur trainer associated with most of the recent successes by Irish youth fighters, is due in New York in a fortnight's time and likely to lend a helping hand in the gym.
"I've plenty of time [before May 5] and hopefully it comes off," Moore noted.
At any rate, Moore, who turns 34 this Sunday, is looking to ending a nearly two-year layoff. The last fight on the Arklow product's 17-3 [10 KO] ledger was a ten-round points loss to Pawel Wolak at Yankee Stadium on June 5, 2010.