Tonight in London on the big O2 card, middleweights Matthew Macklin and Brian Rose engaged in a gruelling, tiring and very likely ageing battle. Macklin, in a must-win fight he said he would retire from the sport with if he lost, edged Rose over 12 tough rounds via majority verdict. Now 35-6(22) the 33-year old prevailed by scores of 115-111 twice (which seemed far too close) and 113-113. Rose, the younger man by two years, falls to 28-4(8).
Both men ended the hard night’s work busted up; Macklin suffering from two badly swollen eyes, Rose his nose a real mess and his right eye also damaged. The action was intense, though at times messy. Macklin, the shorter man, tried to get inside and make it his type of fight in the early and middle rounds, while Rose boxed and used his height and reach. Rose countered well but Macklin was putting in more work, more pressure. In the final few rounds it was a simple war of attrition, with Rose fighting a physical fight with the more experienced man.
There were no knockdowns and neither man ever really looked like scoring a stoppage. Both warriors, who were tired by the last third of the bruising encounter, had points deducted by the referee – Macklin for a low blow in the 10th-round (he had been warned a number of times), Rose for holding in the 12th. Both men gave it all they had in what was a dramatic final round, Macklin biting down and really pushing his exhausted body forward.
The fight was a desperately close one to call and Rose and his fans will certainly be able to make the argument that Macklin was somewhat lucky tonight. Still, Macklin really gave it everything he has left in order to win (this writer had him winning by a solitary point) and it’s hard not to feel he deserved the close win. Macklin does not look much like the full of energy fighter he once was, however. It’s tough to see the former three-time world title challenger making it to the top before he calls it a day, which is what he says his goal is.
It will be a tough road back for Rose also.