Macklin moving down to 154 pounds to chase elusive world title

Former 160-pound title challenger Matthew Macklin's quest for a world title will take him to the junior middleweight division. Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Macklin got three chances to fight for middleweight world titles and came up short each time.

He lost a scandalous split decision to Felix Sturm in 2011 that even many of Sturm's fans thought Macklin won. In 2012, he dropped Sergio Martinez in the seventh round but was ultimately knocked out in the 11th. And in 2013, he challenged the fearsome Gennady Golovkin and was on the wrong side of a rib-busting body shot in the third round.

So if Macklin is going to ever win a world title he figures he will be best served by looking for one at junior middleweight, the division he is dropping down to on Saturday at Barclaycard Arena in his hometown of Birmingham, England, where he will face 29-year-old countryman Jason Welborn (17-3, 6 KOs).

After Macklin (33-6, 22 KOs), 33, was knocked out by Jorge Sebastian Heiland in the 10th round in 11 months ago, he considered the move. Then he won two more middleweight fights in a row before finally making it official that he would return to the weight class he has not fought in since 2006.

"I still think I can win a world title," Macklin said. "After the fight with Heiland I did think maybe I am not what I was. He is a good fighter with a horrible style to fight, but after three rounds of feeling sharp, I just felt that I had no energy in there. I hadn't been out of the gym all year and at 33, training like that, something has got to give.

"So I think that I still have plenty to give but it has just been about changing the way I train a little bit, small adjustments, and I think that I am going to be more imposing at [154 pounds] and my power will be great. I had been thinking about moving down for a while."

Welborn has won two fights in a row since suffering a sixth-round knockout to Liam Smith -- who won a vacant world title last Saturday -- in their July 2014 fight for the British title.

"Jason and I have had very different careers, but to keep mine alive I have to beat him -- simple as that," Macklin said. "I want to reinvent myself [at junior middleweight] but they might see it differently and think I will be dead at the weight and draw confidence from that. It's a good fight for the pair of us and it's great for the fans to have two Birmingham lads boxing each other on the bill. I have to win and win it well."