Return of the Mack
Matthew Macklin has had three unsuccessful shots at the world title but has returned to trainer Joe Gallagher in a bid to resurrect his championship ambitions. We caught up with the 'Irish Brummie' at the start of camp ahead of his comeback later this year.
By Adam Norman: Twitter @SkySportsNorm. Last Updated: October 7, 2013 6:06pm
Matthew Macklin is hoping to get back in the world title mix when he returns to action later this year.
The 31-year-old has returned to Manchester to train with Joe Gallagher's increasingly successful young team following a stint in the States with Buddy McGirt.
Gallagher, whose stable is led by WBA super-bantamweight champion Scott Quigg, guided the Birmingham-born Irishman to British and European titles and appeared to have his first world champion when Macklin fought Felix Sturm in Cologne more than two years ago.
"When I fought Felix Sturm I had a great camp and I could honestly say I could have gone through a brick wall that night."
However, two judges gave the German a narrow verdict and after the fighter signed up with American promoter Lou DiBella the pair went their separate ways.
But after two more world title defeats, to Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin, Macklin has returned 'home' as he looks for one last shot at the big time.
"I'm not really based anywhere, it just happened that way," Macklin told Sky Sports. "When I was training with Joe for Felix Sturm I was living over here but I did a deal with Lou DiBella, and based myself in the States.
"I felt good out there, and spent a lot of time in Spain between fights and trained there for Joachim Alcine, Buddy came out and it wasn't a problem.
"Things weren't as straight forward for the Golovkin fight, the organisation was a nightmare and I had to go out there five weeks before to sort things out. I'm not with Buddy any more - not because I lost but one or two other things, so I'm back in Manchester now."
After losing to Sturm and Martinez, Macklin found the right fights hard to come by, and although he makes no excuses for the defeat to Golovkin in June he admits his preparation was not all it could have been.
"I had an operation on my nose, which I'd been meaning to do for years because my breathing had been horrendous, so I got that done over Christmas and was one of the reasons why I didn't box for a while," he said.
Beat by a better fighter
"But you get the stage where it's a case of who is going to fight you? There were fights that didn't make sense from my point of view in a risk/reward sense so you have to be careful how you make your moves.
"But I want to be busier now because a busy fighter is a better fighter, sharper. I think I'd been nine months out of the ring when I fought Golovkin and with all the things that went on leading up to it you're not in a good state of mind to take on a fighter like that.
"You're not going in with the confidence you should do. When I fought Felix Sturm I had a great camp and I could honestly say I could have gone through a brick wall that night.
"I'd be lying if I said I felt that way against Golovkin. You've got mixed emotions - you tell yourself you can do this and that, you've got to be like that - but not as much as I should have been.
"It was me that suggested the Golovkin fight and I got a very good offer, it was a shot at the world title and HBO said there were very few fights out there. The Daniel Geale fight was explored but they didn't want it so there was no point holding out for that.
"I thought that it might be the time to get him. He's relatively inexperienced, he'd never been 12 rounds, but in the end it was far from ideal.
"We were back and forth with Lou DiBella as I didn't really want to fight in June as I'd done one round in 15 months and he'd already had two fights this year.
"It didn't feel like a level playing field, and on top of that I damaged my hand four weeks out, did minimal punching and it wasn't really what I wanted.
"We had a gameplan and I think it was the wrong one, trying to box him. It's easy to say that now but even a few weeks out I didn't think it was the right thing to do but I thought we'd give it a go and if it didn't work we can always adapt.
"But by that time I was well and truly under the cosh. His tail was up and I needed to go out with a different approach, but it's easy to say that now."
Macklin has been back training in the UK for three weeks and although he is hoping to spend some time at his brother's gym in Marbella, Gallagher wants him to remain in Manchester until he gets a confirmed date for a return.
"I think if Matt gets his head down and works hard there's plenty of quality sparring to be had here."
Promising light-middleweight Willie Nelson is the name in the frame and while several dates in November and December have been thrown around, Gallagher's obligations to his fighters could hinder Macklin's plans.
"Ideally I'd like Matthew to fight on November 30 or December 14, I've told him November 16 and the 23rd are a no-go as we've got Anthony Crolla and others on a stacked show in Manchester," he told Sky Sports.
"It's a great stable and I think if Matt gets his head down and works hard there's plenty of quality sparring to be had here with the Smith brothers, Hosea Burton and Callum Johnson.
"But as far as Marbella is concerned I don't think it's going to happen, even though Matt might be hanging on to that.
"I just think that no matter where your gym is you've just got to knuckle down. Knowing Matt I think we've got the perfect environment. He's been training for three weeks now but until we get sparring again it remains to be seen whether he's still got what it takes to be world champion.
"He's got the potential and he's not been in that many brutal fights so I think he's still got a couple of years left in the sport."
Macklin had his ribs broken by the left hook that Golovkin delivered to end their fight in Connecticut earlier this year, and 'Mack' admitted the feared Kazakh is one of the best fighters on the planet.
"There's different kinds of power, there's explosive shots that can disorientate you but he's more heavy handed and accurate, and he doesn't waste anything," he said.
"He was in first gear and I was in fifth in reverse. They were the completely wrong tactics. Buddy said stick with it and we can change but that's okay with a certain type of opponent, but against someone like that, his tail was already up.
"I was cut badly, working hard and breathing heavily. I trained for 12 rounds but I knew the pace I was working at wasn't sustainable, but he hadn't broken sweat.
Barker eyeing big bouts
"I did come out and change things around in the thirs and I was having some success but then I got caught with the shot. He's a good fighter, I do think he's something special and he could go on and be the superstar of the sport after Floyd Mayweather.
"You can always diffuse a puncher and nullify that but it's more his ability than his power. Obviously he hits hard but it's his composure, his sense of distance and timing."
Fans want to see domestic middleweights Darren Barker, Martin Murray and Macklin fight each other and while Macklin has never backed down from a challenge, he pointed out the logistical problems with setting up the fights.
"I think Darren winning the world title could open things up, especially as he did it on HBO. My last three fights have been on HBO as is my next one," he added.
"It's not really a case of whether we want to fight each other - I'm sure we all do - but you've got three different promoters, three different television networks.
"I will fight anyone, I think everyone knows that, but there's a lot of logistics to be sorted out that the casual observer probably doesn't realise. Sometimes I don't understand it so how do you explain it to Joe public?