Saturday night, November 15, 2014, the Irish capital of Dublin saw the return of the Mack, a homecoming for County Tipperary boy Matthew Macklin as he squared off against Argentinian Jorge Sebastian Heiland, hoping that a victory could earn him another shot at that evasive world title he craves.
Against the odds though, that script was soon ripped up, when the underdog Heiland blitzed the weary Macklin for most of the fight. A sledgehammer right hand ended the 32 year old’s night early, seemingly along with his world title hopes, leaving him pondering his future in the ring.
Macklin started the fight very well as his boxing ability was paying dividends against the tricky southpaw. After a few early range finders along feeling each other out, the home town favorite enjoyed a lot of success, always having the last word in exchanges.
In the second and third, it was Heiland’s turn to take the initiative, pushing Macklin back on to the ropes. The 32 year old did fight well on the back foot, however Heiland was working at a frantic tempo, forcing Macklin to increase his work rate, which would be tough for a man who has had a long, extremely hard career.
Better work followed for Macklin in the fourth, as he used his experience as well as his boxing nous to evade Heiland’s shots. Albeit at the end of the round, a late surge from the away fighter proved that Macklin would not have a minute in this fight.
The next six minutes were extremely worrying for the man from Tipperary, with Heiland looking fresh and strong, smothering Macklin at every opportunity, who was rapidly tiring with exhaustion which written all over his face.
More of the same pace continued in the seventh with Macklin’s tank looking dangerously low as Heiland mixed his attack from body to head. It was clear that the good defensive work early on from Macklin was a distant memory, as he struggled with the furious pace.
Constant pressure came from the Argentinian in the eighth, even at stages when Macklin was boxing intelligently, with any punch he landed seemingly having little to no effect on his steamrolling opponent. We knew it would be a hard night for Macklin, but we did not envision what was unfolding.
Open scoring was used for this bout as Heiland was announced to be up by two rounds on all judges scorecards going into the ninth, but no one could have any complaints. The Argentinian’s engine was impressive in the next session as the pressure just kept on coming and it was clear that Macklin’s punches had no snap.
The 10th was the beginning of the end. The Sky Sports pundit was massively struggling to keep his fresher counterpart off him. Then, as he pushed Macklin back to the corner, Heiland landed a straight left hand followed swiftly by a crushing right hook that sent the former European champion to the canvas instantly. To the dismay of the partisan crowd, the referee was left with no option but to stop the fight.
“Maybe burnt too much energy at the beginning, maybe I’m getting old, I don’t know,” said Macklin, who was looking for no excuses. Macklin was undecided though about his future and what path he will take, as he must reassess his position in the fight game.
“That’s a fighter I thought I would be beating if I’m as good as I was, definitely. I will have to analyse the performance, what am I now, I’m getting on. I’m not going to make any hasty decisions, but certainly I believe I am the best, I’m world class capable of winning a world title, see where I go from here definitely,” said the brave Macklin.
Therefore with this defeat, the retirement question looms large in the minds of the boxing world. Macklin still believes he has the ability to go on and win that elusive world title, which has passed him by for so long.
Needless to say, it is clear to see that Matt Macklin is a shadow of his former self and should really think wisely contemplating his future in boxing.
I am regrettably almost certain that Macklin will never reach his previous heights at world level, despite this, at British level, Macklin may still have a future. Nevertheless, it is a long road back.