By Terence Dooley
Birmingham’s Matthew Macklin revealed that he is heading back down to 154lbs at a press conference on Tuesday, a move that has surprised a lot of boxing fans and pundits. He will feature on Eddie Hearn's October 17 bill at the Second City's Barclaycard Arena, taking on Jason Welborn at 154.
The former three-time world title challenger has not fought at light-middleweight since losing to Jamie Moore by 10th-round KO in 2006; he partially blamed the rigours of chipping the weight away when reflecting back on the loss.
However, the 33-year-old has told BoxingScene that his body composition has changed since that night, arguing that it has altered to the point where he can safely make the 154lb limit.
“I’m probably mentally scarred from the Moore fight, when it killed me to make the weight, but I was lifting a lot of weights and, from a muscle mass point of view, I’m probably smaller now than I was then,” he said.
“I could probably do it easier now than I did then. I always made 160lbs easily, never struggling to get down to the weight.”
The former British and European middleweight titlist is now trained by Moore following stints with, among others, Billy Graham, Buddy McGirt Richie Woodhall and Joe Gallagher, who also stepped in when Moore was shot in Marbella last year and could not train Macklin for his fight against Jose Yebes (W8) in September.
“I can’t keep up myself, to be honest,” he said with a laugh when asked who will work his corner for a warm-up in Marbella on the 28th of this month.
“Nah, I’m with Jamie. The last fight [W KO over Sandor Micsko in May] was a five-week camp. I had the flu and was going to pull out, but it was in Birmingham, I’d sold tickets and didn’t have to make 160lbs so took the fight and got the win to move in a positive direction again.”
Prior to that, he suffered a KO loss against Jorge Sebastian Heiland in Dublin on November 15th. The 32-6 (21) contender told me that he had spent much of 2014 training for fights that never came to pass and left his best form in the gym as a result of this stop-start schedule.
“I think I was burned out over the whole course of the year,” he argued. “I was training for a rematch with [Felix] Sturm, which was supposed to happen in early April but didn’t happen. Then for a fight with [Peter] Quillin in April that didn’t happen.
“Then [Daniel] Geale was signed for the end of May only to get scrapped at the beginning of May, so I was only out of the gym for a few weeks then back in for an August date—the original Heiland date. Jamie got shot in the leg, it got scrapped and I did a camp with Joe Gallagher for a fight in Germany that went eight rounds.
“I had a week off then was back in the gym for six-weeks. I bruised my knuckles, then they flared up in sparring so I did a lot of circuit training. Plus I did a lot of strength and conditioning to try to replicate the intensity (of sparring).
“In hindsight, I did too much. I looked the part on the scales. I felt mentally up for it, but after three rounds I felt sapped—it was like someone had pulled the plug out—so I tried to bluff my way through the rounds.
“I didn’t have the energy to fight bell-to-bell, so I tried to fiddle my way through and tried to finish strong, but I knew I didn’t have the energy in me. By the lights out round, I had nothing left.”
He added: “At the end of the fight, I was thinking: ‘Am I done? Has a hard career caught up with me? So had to answer those questions first.”
The move to light-middleweight opens up new title avenues. However, with Father Time in the other corner Macklin knows that he has to secure a world title shot sooner rather than later—either at his new old weight or, if he struggles, up at 160lbs.
“I still want a world title,” he said. “I believe I can do it. End of the year or early next year, I’ll be looking for a world title. I should have had it in Germany (against Sturm), but didn’t get it. I believe I’m in that mix of fighters who can win a world title.”
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