By Rory Houston.
Matthew Macklin moved closer to a world title shot with a comprehensive points victory over Rafa Sosa Pintos at the National Stadium on Saturday night.
Pintos offered Macklin a tough test in the 10-round contest but the result was never in doubt as the Uruguayan boxer was happy to stand back and take any punishment the Irishman offered him.
Macklin threatened a knockout regulary as Pintos was floored three times.
However, Pintos survived to the final bell and Macklin was awarded a 99-88 win by the judges.
From the start, the Uruguayan champion had a clear game plan of frustrating Macklin.
Macklin made a tentative start but Pintos found himself on the ground at the end of the second round thanks to a great body shot from the Birmingham-based fighter.
That was a common trait throughout the fight, with Macklin heeding advice from his corner to connect with the body as Pintos’ tremendous defence made it difficult to connect anywhere else.
The fifth round was another testament to the character of Pintos as he once again hit the canvas, this time only 15 seconds inside the round.
But he regrouped and continued to take the shots from the European title holder.
In truth, Pintos never threatened and the only danger for Macklin was complacency and to avoid any freak shots from his opponent.
It looked as if Macklin had secured the knockout he craved when, in the ninth round, Pintos once again fell to the floor.
He pleaded with the referee that it was a low blow, but the count went ahead.
Pintos composed himself and continued exchanges with Macklin to the final bell.
After the fight Macklin and his promoter spoke of their desire to secure a world title shot with Kelly Pavlik and are confident it will happen in 2010.