Fair play to Fitzgerald, he fought hard and brought the fight to me. What he lacked in technical skill he made up for in heart and determination. I’m sure if he fights like that in the future, he will beat a lot of guys.
From the first bell he charged at me, but this came as no surprise; I expected it. I could tell from the look in his eyes that he was hyped up and had come to fight. This was, after all, the biggest fight in his career to date.
It takes a lot of control to beat a man as inspired and motivated as that. You have to be careful not to engage with him emotionally, because doing so will only lead you down the path of being drawn into a brawl; essentially fighting his kind of fight. It is wiser to systematically break him down, all the while using his emotion against him.
I’ve since reviewed the fight with my coaches Adam Booth and Paddy Fitzpatrick and we all know where I have to improve.
Interestingly, in the days afterwards, Matthew Macklin ‘called me out’ in a Brian Peters press release, one that attempted to portray me in a negative light. The call-out came as a surprise, and I can only guess it stems from a throwaway comment I had made in a video interview before the Fitzgerald weigh-in. Naturally, during the interview I was asked about my middleweight rivals and Macklin’s view that he was a level above the rest of us on the domestic scene. I replied by saying I felt Macklin would be one of the easier fights for me, but no disrespect was ever intended by it. It was an off-the-cuff remark made just minutes before I weighed in. And, in all honesty, I had completely forgotten about the whole conversation until I was emailed a copy of Macklin’s press release the following Monday.
Of course, it goes without saying, Matthew Macklin is a good fighter, as well as a good guy, and on his day he would give anyone a hard fight. Either Matthew and his management are so insecure that they feel the need to issue a nationwide press release after one throwaway comment, or the call-out means something else.
Given time to gather my thoughts, I read the situation like this. Ever since my fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in June, I’ve said, quite publicly, that I want to fight Matthew Macklin. Yet, back then, he repeatedly stated he was a level above me, and that he was only looking towards big fights against the likes of Chavez and IBF world champion Daniel Geale.
Fine by me, I thought to myself, there are other fights out there. Recently there has been a lot of talk, both publicly and professionally, about me fighting Darren Barker in the future. While the Barker talk has gained momentum, Macklin’s big fights have failed to materialise. He now has no clear avenues to pursue, so now he’s calling me out.
For the record, the Barker fight looks like it will happen for me, just not next. Why not now? Well, before the Fitzgerald fight I sat down with Adam Booth and agreed with him that it would take time, perhaps two or three fights as well as the training camps that lead into those fights for me to become fully adjusted to a new style of fighting. Obviously, the idea of fighting Macklin now, or in May, is tempting, and a big part of me wants to go for it but I believe in what I am doing in the gym and the career plan my team has set out for me.
This means I will likely fight another tune-up and then go up against Darren Barker. If, after that, Matthew Macklin remains interested in proving he’s a level above, I will be more than happy to argue the point in the ring.
Until then I wish him all the best.