European Middleweight Champion Matthew Macklin will link up with new trainer Freddie Roach in Los Angeles next week as he begins preparations for the first defence of his title. Macklin defends his belt against the highly touted Dmitry Pirog in April and he will prepare for the unbeaten Russian at Roach’s legendary Wildcard Gym. Roach is generally regarded as one of boxing’s best trainers and has been the guiding force behind Manny Pacquiao’s rise to become the best pound for pound fighter in the World. Macklin believes linking up with Roach could prove crucial as he looks to make an assault on a World title in 2010.
“I spent some time training at the Wildcard at the start of my career and it’s always been on my mind to go back there at some point,” said Macklin. “When you see the improvements that Freddie has made with fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan it shows you just how good a trainer he is. The next few years in my career are going to be massive and to have Freddie in my corner will be a huge bonus.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me because not only is it a chance to work with the most successful trainer in the world but the sparring over there is unbelievable. The Wildcard Gym is full of champions so everyday you’re testing yourself against the very best.”
Roach says he’s delighted to have the opportunity to work with Macklin. “I like Matt, he’s a good kid with a lot of ability and plenty of ambition,” said Roach. “I’ve had some good times working with Irish fighters like Steve Collins, Bernard Dunne and Wayne McCullough in the past so hopefully I can have some success with Matt too.
“The middleweight division is wide open right now so I think there could be some big fights out there for Matt. We’ve got to get past Pirog first though and that’s a tough fight so we’re just thinking about that right now.”
Following an excellent 2009 that saw him win the British and European titles with a pair of sensational knockouts and an impressive win over Uruguayan Champ Rafa Sosa Pintos in Dublin Macklin is on the cusp of a World title fight with only Pirog standing in his way.
“I’ve been ticking over and I’ll travel to LA next week to start working with Freddie and preparing for the Pirog fight. It’s a big fight because as well as being a mandatory defence of my European title we’re both ranked in the top ten in the World so it’s effectively a World title eliminator as well.”
Macklin had been based in Manchester with trainer Joe Gallagher and admits he will be leaving Gallagher’s gym with a heavy heart having enjoyed so much success with him.
“It’s bitter sweet to be honest because I’m sorry to be leaving Joe but o his credit he understood that this was an opportunity I had to take. I’ve enjoyed the most successful spell of my career with him and Joe’s been a huge part of that success. He’s brought out levels of fitness in me that I didn’t even know existed and he’s always had the tactics spot on. He’s an excellent trainer and I know he’s going to go on to become one of the best trainers out there.”