Moore-Macklin: UK fight of the year so far

By Sam Doleman @ ringside


Moore-Macklin: UK fight of the year so far

British light middleweight champion Jamie Moore ground out a victor over the much fancied Matthew Macklin in Friday’s British light- middleweight championship contest. Expectations at the Carnell Leisure Centre, Manchester, were high as the fight sold out in a mere 72 hours, and tickets became nigh on impossible to obtain. The two warriors who graced the ring that evening were aware of the expectations, and yet they surpassed them by some distance.

A predominantly pro-Moore crowd eagerly awaited the arrival of the two fighters. Macklin was first to the ring. Undaunted by the red hot atmosphere, he looked calm, and confident of completing the job that lay ahead. Moore was welcomed to the ring by his army of Salford fans. Cheers echoed around the arena as Moore entered through the ropes whilst locking eyes with Macklin.
As the first bell sounded Macklin looked to take the centre of the ring and use his strength to push Moore back. Working behind his left jab Macklin took the fight to Moore. It wasn’t long before Macklin landed some of his trademark body shots. At ringside I felt as though Moore had felt Macklin’s power for the first time. Moore winced as one shot connected with his rib cage, then came back with some body hooks and uppercuts of his own.

It was clear following the opening three minutes that the eagerly anticipated fight wasn’t going to disappoint. The second began as the first ended. The frantic pace continued as Macklin drove Moore back to the ropes with some hooks and body shots. Moore returned and landed some hooks of his own. Moore landed with two straight southpaw jabs which pushed Macklin back. The fact Macklin’s defence was not tight enough to block the shots was a worry for the rounds to come. During both of the opening sessions Macklin’s work rate was the higher, but the quality of Moore’s movement and defence was far superior. Moore had also landed the cleaner of the work.

For periods of the third and fourth rounds the fight was fought almost forehead to forehead. As the fight intensified, the atmosphere within the arena intensified, and as the atmosphere intensified the fighters intensified their efforts. A vicious circle, which resulted in the fight gaining even more momentum. As Moore lay on the ropes, Macklin found the target areas increasingly difficult to hit. Moore would roll his body, duck and make Macklin miss.

Moore’s experience was beginning to tell as Macklin started to look like he was tiring. The fifth was another difficult round to split. Both fighters were going almost punch for punch, but again, the cleaner work was coming from Moore.  Macklin did shake Moore towards the end of the round. Moore sat back on the ropes as Macklin threw leather, which mostly hit Moore’s gloves and arms.
Macklin was sometimes guilty of throwing punches without thinking. As Moore lay on the ropes Macklin could maybe have stepped back from time to time and pick some punches.

Moore started the sixth with a nice uppercut on the inside. Macklin continued to ensure Moore was to have no time or space and quickly responded by pushing Moore onto the ropes. Again, Moore demonstrated the greater experience when on the ropes by making Macklin miss and turning him to throw some shots of his own.  Moore began to turn the screw towards the end of the sixth and some damage appeared under the right eye of Macklin. By the end of the sixth the computer punch counting system had the two boxers split by only one landed punch in the fight - a sign of how close the fight was.

The seventh was a superb round in which the advantage swung from one fighter to the other. Moore landed some clean uppercuts on the inside, while Macklin’s custom body shots rained in on Moore. Macklin had Moore hurt with a right hand with thirty seconds of the round remaining. Moore was backed to the ropes and looked to evade the subsequent barrage of shots from Macklin.

As Macklin looked to be in the driving seat, Moore spun him on the ropes and began an onslaught of his own. Hooks to the head and body pushed Macklin back. The round had another twist as Macklin once again returned with a cluster of hooks to push Moore back to the ropes before the bell sounded. Macklin looked to have expanded lots of energy during a very brutal round.

The eighth was much like the seventh in that momentum swayed from one man to the other.  Moore looked to be roughing Macklin up on the inside and the challenger began to look like his time was up. As the mind starts thinking Macklin was spent, the Birmingham man lands a shot to truly turn the tide on Moore. As Moore looked in trouble he too would turn the tide and once more Macklin’s future in the fight looked short. Moore was now looking visibly the fresher man. Macklin’s punches had lost some of their snap from the earlier rounds, and he was gasping for oxygen in order to inflict yet more high paced attacks on Moore.

The beginning of the ninth saw Macklin stumble across the ring, clearly the one minute between rounds had not been enough respite. Moore capitalised on Macklin’s weary legs by landing a solid left to the head then some hooks to the body. It looked as though the Birmingham man really was fighting on spirit alone now. Suddenly out of the blue Macklin landed an uppercut, hook, hook combination and Moore was in trouble. Moore survived the onslaught before landing three hooks in succession, these shots would again throw Macklin’s future in the fight into doubt. As the bell sounded we had been witness to a round of the year contender. The crowd were at fever pitch by this point with both sets of supporters willing their man to victory.

The tenth was to be Macklin’s last stand. The round began with Macklin looking tired. The snap in his punches had gone, his legs were weary and his defence scrambled. Moore landed a good left at the start of the round to send Macklin into disarray. As Macklin fought to regain a foothold in the fight he stumbled forward and fell into what Moore’s crowd thought was a knockdown. The referee correctly signalled a slip. 

It wasn’t to be long before the fight was over. Macklin caught a hook before taking a left-right combination to the jaw. Macklin fell face-first to the canvas and remained motionless as paramedics were called to the ring. A wild crowd suddenly fell silent as they awaited news on Macklin’s condition. After ten or so minutes Macklin was taken from the ring on a stretcherand placed in an ambulance. Updates on Saturday suggested he was suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. Macklin had also received precautionary head scans.

In what was surely British fight of the year Moore had retained his title. At the time of the stoppage I had Moore two rounds up, although some of the rounds were almost impossible to score. Moore’s defence and experience had been the major factor in the fight. Macklin’s heart and determination was unbelievable. I for one wish Matthew, who is still only 24, the best and hope he will return to a British ring.