10 December 2009 – By Cormac Campbell
In terms of talent, British and European title victories have identified Matthew Macklin as a threat on the World stage. But perhaps more important is his marketability.
Around 2,000 fight fans parted with their hard earned cash to watch Macklin outclass Rafa Sosa Pintos at Dublins National Stadium in a non-title affair last Saturday in the belief that many more big nights are to follow in the Irish capital. Macklin may speak with a Birmingham accent, but the son of a Roscommon father and Tipperary mother has left little question as to where his loyalties lie.
“This was a homecoming for me and it was wonderful,” he said after the absorbing 10-round points victory. “I was the home fighter and the support I had was amazing.
“The atmosphere was wonderful and it was great going the whole ten rounds just to soak that up. The response all week has been wonderful, even just walking around OConnell Street killing a bit of time people have come up and wished me the best. It has been one of the most enjoyable nights of my career.”
Enjoyable as it may have been, it is unlikely to rank as one of the most important both in terms of past and future contests.
Defeats to Andrew Facey (2003) and Jamie Moore (2006) slowed Macklins progress but improved his resolve helping develop him in to a more complete fighter. Rebuilding took time but a comprehensive victory over an admittedly faded Yori Boy Campas at the National Stadium in March 2008 convinced those in the know that the time was right to let Macklin off the lead again.
In March of this year Macklin blasted out Wayne Elcock in three rounds for the British title; in September he did a job on Amin Asikainen for the European crown in just one.
Whats next remains to be seen. A mandatory defence against Dmitry Pirog would appear most likely. But Macklin is hungry for a World Title fight and so is his coach Joe Gallagher.
“Matthew is now a mature, disciplined 27-year-old, so I think he is ready to go for a World Title,” he enthused.
“There is no need to stick around. If Brian Peters and Ricky Hatton can deliver a World Title fight then Matthews next six fights can all be World Title fights.
“When you have 10 minutes for a years work it is good that you have picked up British and European titles but if you are looking to go in at World level you need to do the distance. So that was a blessing tonight.
“The quicker he gets in there the quicker he gets back to defend them in Ireland.”
And the quicker he can defend it against fellow Irishmen John Duddy or Andy Lee?
“Everyone is reaching for that Holy Grail,” said Peters, Macklin’s manager.
“If one of them can get that World Title and I think whether it is Matthew, John or Andy, it would be fantastic then if they all met.”
Peters did imply that there are options in relation to what route Macklin will pursue.
“Pirog is a possibility,” he said. “There are a few other things we are working on that we cant really say too much about just yet. Certainly Pirog, if we end up fighting him well and good.
What is for sure is that little will happen until March at the earliest. While he may have dominated, Macklin suffered a cut above his left eye and two swollen hands against Sosa Pintos scuppering any prospect of an immediate return to action.
“I dont think the cut is too bad maybe two or three stitches,” he revealed.
“Both my hands are sore. They are both swollen up around the knuckles. I dont think they are badly hurt I dont think anything is broken or that there is any ligament damage. You get bumps and bruises – its not a tickling contest. It niggled a little when I landed, but that is part of the game.”