- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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In 2006, Matthew Macklin was knocked out by Jamie Moore in the 10th round of an action-packed British junior middleweight title fight. When Macklin heads into his next fight, it will be his old foe Moore manning the corner as his head trainer.
Sounds a little like Apollo Creed training Rocky Balboa or Micky Ward training Arturo Gatti, doesn't it?
Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs), an Irishman from England, is coming off a third-round knockout on a crushing body shot on June 29 in a middleweight world title bout against Gennady Golovkin and makes his return to face Willie Nelson (21-1-1, 12 KOs) on Dec. 7 (HBO) in Atlantic City, N.J., on the undercard of unified junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux's defense against former bantamweight titlist Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko.
"I think working with Jamie will definitely be a fresh start for me and I'm very excited about working with him," said Macklin, who is replacing Buddy McGirt with Moore. "We've have known each other for years and our fight back in 2006 only strengthened the respect we have for each other and obviously he brings a wealth of experience from his own career."
Moore (32-5, 23 KOs) had a good career as one of Europe's top junior middleweights for most of the 2000s before retiring in 2010 after his second consecutive knockout loss.
"When you go through a fight like we went through then you form quite a bond," Moore said of his relationship with Macklin. "I was already friends with Mathew before we fought and that only strengthened the bond and over the years we have always kept in touch. Since our fight I've watched him improve, adapt and become a world class fighter and I want to help him realize his dream of becoming a world champion. To be part of that journey would be very special for me, as well, because of what we went through in our fight.
"It's not about making any major changes to Matthew's style at this stage in his career. It's more about ironing out wrinkles and getting Matthew to box to his strengths and come up with the right game plan. I actually covered Willie Nelson's last fight for [British broadcaster] Sky and he's a very capable fighter and has a decent pedigree, but I believe that his style will suit Matthew and I know he'll want to put on another devastating performance to get himself back in the world title picture again."
Moore was a commentator on Nelson's 10-round decision win against Luciano Cuello, which came on the undercard of Macklin's loss to Golovkin at the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn.
Macklin said he is ready to bounce back after the loss to Golovkin, whom he said was the best opponent he ever faced.
"Obviously, I was very disappointed with the loss to Golovkin but I have to keep things in perspective and it's pretty clear that Golovkin is a special fighter," Macklin said. "In hindsight, I probably used the wrong tactics in that fight but I've no excuses. He's the best I’ve ever fought. That was my third world title fight but I was robbed against Felix Sturm in Germany in my first attempt and then pushed Sergio Martinez very hard in my second crack.
"Obviously, things didn't go my way against Golovkin but both he and Martinez are in pretty much everyone's top five pound-for-pound list so I know I still have what it takes to win a world title."