25 March 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Matthew Macklin set his sights on the European middleweight title after registering an impressive points victory over Luis Ramon Yori Boy Campas at Dublins National Stadium on Saturday night.
The likeable 25-year-old completely outboxed his wily Mexican opponent on his way to a victory his fourth in a row since losing an epic battle with British light-middleweight champion Jamie Moore in 2006 which established him as a genuine force at 160lbs.
Indeed, Macklin is hoping that the win, in what was his first outing under the tutelage of Buddy McGirt, will act as the first significant step on a road that he hopes will lead to a shot at Sebastian Sylvester, who defends his European title against Javier Castillejo in Germany in April.
Im very pleased to have gotten Yori Boy out of the way. He was a very dangerous opponent, Macklin, the victor by a score of 98-95, told reporters at the post-fight press conference.
Hes very tough and is a very good fighter. He gave me a great fight and Im sure that in my next outing Ill be much the better for this fight.
It was my first fight with Buddy. Wed be working on jabbing more and being more disciplined. I did make some mistakes but Buddy kept me focused, he kept me controlled and we boxed to plan.
The fight was tough but I won it clearly and now Im ready to move on to bigger and better things now.
Im not really bothered about the British title. It would be a big fight in Birmingham because Wayne Elcock is a local lad, too.
But the European title is the one for me. And the long term goal is, obviously, a world title, please God.
Macklins victory could not have come at a better time for Irish boxing, with Andy Lee suffering his first professional defeat less than 24 hours previously and John Duddy blowing his shot at undisputed middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik by sustaining a number of serious cuts in his horribly unimpressive win over Walid Smichet the month before.
It was also hugely significant on a personal level for Macklin because, after being consigned to the shadows by his two fellow Irishman over the past two years, he is now being afforded some time in the limelight.
Youre only as good as you last fight and nobody knows that better than me, he mused, when asked about the significance of his win to his career prospects.
I turned pro after a top-class amateur career and was then given a ten-rounder after nine fights. I was probably rushed a little bit, in hindsight, and I was beaten [by Andrew Facey].
One minute youre the golden boy and then the next, people are rushing past you to get to the latest golden boy.
But thats when you find out how strong you are as a person. You have to rebuild.
Then, when I was going well again, I lost to Jamie Moore. But I came back again and, after three good wins, this was my first real test.
[Alessio] Furlan was tough but he didnt come to win. He wasnt in the same class as Campas.
I think I showed against Camps that I can box, as well as fight. I was controlled and I was disciplined.
Obviously Ive got fighters heart, a fighters instincts but Buddy kept me under control. There was a couple of times when I nearly got sucked into a brawl but Buddy told me to stick to the plan, stay focused and stay behind the jab.
In the fourth or the fifth, I did get drawn into a war a little. And that was a problem for me earlier in my career: when I did get sucked in, I couldnt go back to boxing on the outside.
But I was able to get back to my boxing against Campas. It showed that I can regain my composure, that I can think on my feet. It was a mature performance. I proved that I adapt and change as the fight progresses.
Indeed, Macklin is now hoping that the impressive way in which he dealt with the threat posed by Campas, a former opponent of Duddy, will boost his profile within Ireland.
Duddy got a lot of hype because of what he was doing over in New York but it was touch and go when he fought Campas, he pointed out.
It was a brilliant fight and it really could have gone either way. But I think I did a much better job than Duddy. I thought I beat Campas much more clearly. So hopefully peoples perceptions of me will change.