11 MTK fighters featured on the huge Queensberry ‘Frampton Reborn’ card at the SSE Odyssey Arena, and Macklin is hoping for a return to the city early in the new year.
Headlined by the management outfit’s new glamour signing, Carl Frampton, the arena was packed to the rafters in one of the biggest Irish fight nights in recent memory.
Frampton outpointed tough Mexican Horacio Garcia in an unexpectedly competitive clash, his first since losing the WBA featherweight title in a rematch with Leo Santa Cruz in January.
‘The Jackal’ looked to box early on, but was drawn into a war in the second half of the non-title ten-rounder, suffering a controversial knockdown before claiming a unanimous decision win on the cards.
While Frampton, echoing some commentators, was critical of the performance in the aftermath, calling it “mediocre,” Macklin took a more measured view.
The Tipperary Tornado, who shared a fight for the ages with Frampton’s new trainer Jamie Moore back in 2005, said that “Carl looked fantastic for the first three rounds.”
“He definitely didn’t look like a guy who’s been out of the ring for nearly a year, but he probably traded a bit too much at times. It was still a good fight to get back into it though.”
“I’d like to see him back out in March or April – get a good win and then he’ll be all set for a world-title fight at Windsor Park in the summer.”
While Frampton is moving towards belts, there was world title disappointment in the co-main with Jamie Conlan being stopped in the sixth round of his IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas.
It was a punishing loss for the well-liked fighter who headlined MTK’s first show back in July 2015 – when he had his famous war with Junior Granados in Dublin.
His reputation for bravery has built since then and, while he rose from the canvas several times, he was no match for Ancajas.
“It’s devastating for Jamie,” said Macklin, who lost two world middleweight title challenges during his own illustrious career. “He’s someone who really deserves a world title, but the sport can be cruel and he came up against a top-class operator.”
“I know the feeling, I’ve been there and I really feel for him, but he’ll take a bit of time off and MTK will be behind him all the way.”
“Paddy and Jono had great wins and the rest of the lads on the undercard had a good night and a few impressive wins,” added Macklin.
“We’ll be back in Belfast in March or April and we’ll keep all the lads busy in the meantime.”