Photo ©Jane Warburton/SaddoBoxing
Birmingham born middleweight prospect Matthew Macklin, 17-2 (13), recently spared a few moments to chat exclusively with SaddoBoxing about his career so far, "that" fight against Jamie Moore and his career aspirations.
SaddoBoxing: Was the fight against British Champion Jamie Moore last September your hardest fight so far?
Matthew Macklin: "Yes it was, by quite a bit. It was a grueling fight and quite punishing for both of us. Jamie's experience at pacing himself was the telling difference; he fought a smart fight."
SB: People are talking about that fight as a contender for fight of the decade; does this make you feel proud that you were part of it?
MM: "Yes, I suppose so. I fight to win, not to take part, but I'm proud of the heart I showed. I was absolutely exhausted as early as the second and third round, yet I fought on until the tenth round, even giving Jamie trouble in the eighth and ninth rounds, and it was no easy pace!
"I had to do a lot of soul-searching but I'm proud to say that as tired as I was, I didn't give up, or more importantly, stop trying to win. A lot of fighters that get stopped have usually had their 'heart broken' by their opponent, but my body gave in before my heart did.
"I've always considered myself, mentally tough, determined etc...and I think I proved it in that fight. Also, I watch a lot of boxing and I hate it when fighters go into survival mode and settle for a points loss.
"I've always said I'd rather get knocked out, trying until my last breath to win, than to accept losing - and that's what happened in that fight. So that makes me proud."
SB: Who were your idol/idols in boxing when you were growing up?
MM: "There are so many. I'm a huge boxing fan and appreciate all styles. I loved the 'champions forever' video with Ray Leonard being my favorite. I really liked watching Barrera and Morales; attacking fighters."
SB: Was it hard making the step up from amateur to professional?
MM: "Yes and no. At the time, I was on funding and really enjoyed boxing abroad in the international tournaments and I'd just turned 19 and felt I could achieve a lot as an amateur. I think because I turned pro young and missed out on boxing in a major (senior) tournament that people forget how good of an amateur I was.
"I won a couple of gold medals at U-19 level, won a silver in the Acropolis Cup, losing in the final 12-10 to Audrey Balanov of Russia who won Gold at last year's Euro Champs. Also, he was 25, I was 18.
"But, I did have a style that was more suited to the pros and when I won the ABA's, the offers came flooding in. I didn't find the style of pro boxing any different, just that I could take my time more."
SB: Is there a point between fights where you don't train at all?
MM: "After a fight, I think you need at least a week off to let your body recover, maybe two or three depending on how hard the fight is. Ideall,y I'd have had more fights than I have, but I've suffered from inactivity, mostly down to injury.
"During this time it would be best to tick over if possible but I'm a bit of an 'all or nothing' person and find it hard to train without a goal - so yeah, there have been periods where I've not trained at all for say a month, but then I start to do the odd run or some weights."
SB: How intense is your training leading up to a fight?
MM: "The training is very intense. It takes over my whole life. I'm from Birmingham and that's where my family and friends live, so when I'm training for a fight, its like being in camp for me, because I train in the gym from 12-3.30 and then do my roadwork around 8pm on the night - these are the best of my day.
"The rest is pretty boring and lonely! Also the dieting is a hardship. I love my food but usually have to shift a stone and a half [21 lb] to two stone [28 lb], so I have to be very strict with myself."
SB: What is the best fight you have ever watched, and why?
MM: "There are too many to name just one. I loved Hagler v Hearns, Holyfield v Bowe 1, Ali v Frazier (all of them), Corrales v Castillo 1, and Morales v Barrerra 1. These are the ones that spring to mind.
"I loved them because of the action, the guts that theses fighters showed and the class. Also the fact that each fight, kept swaying in favour of one fighter, and then the other. It doesn't get more exciting than these kinds of fights."
SB: In an ideal situation, who would be your dream opponent?
MM: "I can't think of anyone in particular. I just hope the middleweight champ is a great champion when the time comes for me to fight for it. I've just turned 25 and I’m certainly not ready yet, but if over the next two years I can be kept really busy and gain the season I've lacked then, I think I should be there or there about ready. I'd like to win it in an epic battle!"
SB: Being only 25 years old, I'm sure you want to be boxing for years to come; do you have a main goal for your career?
MM: "Yes, I would be very disappointed if I didn't win a genuine world title. I was a world class amateur when I was 18 so the pedigree is there, the talent is there. Also, I showed in the Moore fight that the desire and determination is there.
"Middleweights tend not to peak until their late 20's even early 30's, so I think I've got plenty of time. I need to be more patient, not so eager to please, and I need to be fighting regularly. I think inactivity has held me back the most. You don't see footballers coming back after 3 months injury and producing the best form straight away.
"Well, I've had 11 months, 7 months, 6 months and by the time I fight again it will be 10 months since I fought Jamie Moore. It's impossible to produce your best under those circumstances."
SB: Your brother Seamus is also a boxer; is boxing something that has always run in your family?
MM: "No, not really. My Dad enjoyed watching it and then took me to the gym and Seamus followed after me. Having said that, Jimmy Moran [Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist and ABA Champ] is a second cousin of my Dad's.
"And there is a distant link to Paul Pender; his mother is from the same parish in Ireland as my Dad [Four Roads, Co. Roscommon], but I haven't got a clue how far back we are related if in fact we even really are. It could be pub talk!"