Jorge Sebastian Heiland finishes Matthew Macklin with 10th-round KO
British middleweight Matthew Macklin may have fought his final bout after suffering a violent 10th-round knockout at the hands of tough Argentine southpaw Jorge Sebastian Heiland in Dublin, Ireland tonight.
The end came when Macklin, trapped in his own corner, was nailed by a straight left hand and a massive right hook to the jaw. The former three-time world title challenger went down hard and his corner team intervened before the referee had the chance to administer a count.
The official time was 0:42.
“It was more fatigue than anything,” said Macklin, when interviewed by Sky Sports. “I was exhausted a couple of rounds earlier, if truth be told. Maybe I burnt myself out, or maybe I’m just getting old, but you have to give Heiland credit tonight.
“I’ll analyze my performance and see where I go from here. I don’t want to make any rash decisions.”
Macklin (31-6, 20 knockouts) got off to a great start, timing the right hand well to head and body against the lefty stance in Round 1. Well timed combinations, up and down, began connecting at the end of the session and the crowd rose as Heiland appeared dazzled by what was in front of him.
That pattern changed almost immediately.
Heiland’s physical strength was noticeable in Round 2 and, although a lot of his work was inaccurate, he was swarming the older man and making him fight. Macklin landed eye-catching blows but he consistently lost composure and shape, whilst on the back foot, and the visitor showed no sign of slowing down.
Macklin appeared to be tiring as early as Round 5 and, if anything, Heiland was increasing the pace and becoming more accurate, particularly with shots to the body. The pressure was suffocating but Macklin bit down and scored with a quality combination of rights and lefts to begin the sixth.
In the next round a big left hand took a lot out of Macklin. He stopped firing back and clusters of shots found the target with alarming regularity. Experience and guile kept him alive, but effective counters were few and far between and Heiland (25-4-2, 13 KOs) was a middleweight fighting at a bantamweight pace.
In Round 8 Macklin found the energy to land some brisk straight shots to the jaw, but he was paid back in full by Heiland, who was relentless. Macklin’s best punch of the fight probably landed in the ninth when a counter right snapped his opponent’s head back but, again, it registered no damage.
The finishing blows left the passionate Dublin crowd in eery silence.
The warning signs were out for Macklin in his previous outing. Jose Yebes, an unheralded 35-year-old middleweight from Spain, pushed the former British and European champion to the limit in September and was only a point or two from springing the upset. The official scores favored the Englishman by a majority decision.
A quality operator at his peak, Macklin was deemed very unlucky not to capture the WBA title from Felix Sturm in June 2011 and although Sergio Martinez stopped him in the eleventh, he was forced to work hard for it a year later. The performance against Yebes and tonight’s defeat suggests that Macklin now may have reached his expiration date.
“Matthew would have dealt with Heiland two or three years ago,” said Eddie Hearn, who promotes the Englishman. “If you want to challenge for a world title you need to take care of opponents like that, and unfortunately he couldn’t do it tonight. Heiland was very good.”
Indeed he was and, with an impressive victory in this WBC eliminator, the future is very bright for the 27-year-old pressure puncher.
Macklin weighed in at 159.5 pounds with Heiland a pound less.
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Lightweight Anthony Crolla (29-4-2, 11 knockouts) did what he wanted in a routine six-round decision win over journeyman Gyorgy Mizsei Jr. The official score was 60-54 on the lone scorecard submitted by the referee.
Crolla attacked the body throughout and whipped in uppercuts when Mizsei attempted to protect his mid-section. The crowd was far from excited by the one-sided engagement but Crolla was certainly upbeat afterwards, when Matchroom boss Hearn confirmed some dream news.
“On January 23 at the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, Anthony Crolla will challenge Richar Abril for the WBA lightweight title. The deal is done and it’s great that we’ve secured this fight on Anthony’s home soil,” said Hearn.
This will be the first world title bout of Crolla’s career.
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Exciting junior bantamweight prospect Khalid Yafai completed his first 12-round assignment with a dominant victory over crazy brave Nicaraguan Everth Briceno.
The official scores were 120-104, 119-106 and 118-105.
The unbeaten Yafai (13-0, 9 knockouts) was in control from the start and a trio of left hands, punctuated by a sharp hook to the liver, dumped Briceno on the canvas in Round 5. The visitor rose at the count of eight and, despite some terrific variety in Yafai’s follow-up burst, managed to survive the session.
Briceno was deducted a point for low blows in Round 6 and continued to fire shots south of the border, but Yafai was rarely distracted in what became a punishing and destructive performance.
Two more knockdowns, again courtesy of left hooks to the body, appeared to have ended matters in Round 8 but Briceno would not admit defeat. Yafai was merciless but he could not locate the finisher and Briceno was given a warm ovation from the Irish crowd for reaching the finish line.
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An all-Irish grudge match ended in spectacular fashion when Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan scored a one-punch knockout of Anthony Fitzgerald at middleweight.
O’Sullivan walked into punching range at the opening bell and immediately began landing heavily. He showboated, dropped his hands and scored a warning shot uppercut with the right hand. Fitzgerald paid no heed and was laid flat out by another crunching uppercut seconds later.
The official time was 1:15.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing