26.09.06 - Matthew Macklin says he's ready to claim the British light middleweight title in Manchester on Friday night. Macklin faces defending champion Jamie Moore in what promises to be one of the domestic clashes of the year if not the decade but he's in no doubt about the outcome. "No disrespect to Jamie but I'm going to be leaving that ring with the Lonsdale belt strapped around my waist. I've waited so long for this opportunity that there is no way I'm going to let it pass me by."
Macklin was speaking after wrapping up preparations for the bout which included sparring with leading super middleweight contender Brian Magee and a 15 round session on trainer BIlly Graham's famous body bag. (See photos below.)
"I've worked so hard for this," said Macklin. "I know fighters say it all the time but I really do feel in the shape of my life. My weights been good, I've been happy with my sparring and I'm more than ready to answer any questions Jamie thinks he can ask me."
The fight is widely seen as a 50-50 matchup with the established champion taking on the young up and coming contender but Macklin feels he holds all the aces.
"We all know what Jamie's capable of and there's no doubt he is a very good fighter but I honestly think people have only seen a fraction of what I can do yet. People talk about Moore being a pressure fighter who sets a fast pace but what if I can set an even faster pace than him?
"I've just done 15 rounds on the body bag with Billy to finish my training and the only other fighter who has ever done that is Ricky Hatton. Billy said he couldn't believe how I kept the pace going and actually stepped up the intensity in the later rounds so I think that speaks for itself really."
Macklin says he also benefited from sparring with former European super middleweight title challenger Brian Magee. "Brian came over from Belfast for sparring last week and it was just what I needed," said the 24-year-old.
"Obviously he's a southpaw like Jamie and a quality fighter but he's also a big strong guy who has a natural weight advantage over me. He's not trying to make weight for a fight at the moment so he was over the 13 stone mark while I'm obviously nearer to 11 stone."
"It just the kind of work I needed because I'd had a few natural light middleweights in at the start of my sparring work and I was just blowing them away to be honest. We brought in a few decent southpaws from France but they couldn't live with the pace I was setting and my body shots were crippling them so then we decided to being in bigger stronger guys."
"I felt very comfortable in there with Brian though. He couldn't believe how strong I was for a light middleweight and he told me that I hit harder than a lot of the big names he's met in the super middleweight division."
Although confidence is high in the Macklin camp he's keen to stress that he is not looking past Moore. "There's no way either myself or Billy are going to underestimate a fighter of Jamie's class. He's been a great British champion and I have the utmost respect for him but this is my time to come through now and I will win the British title on Friday night."