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Maccarinelli’s loss was only the start for Enzo Calzaghe

By Nick Kelly: Saturday night saw Enzo Maccarinelli defeated by David Haye and whilst the loss was crushing for Maccarinelli, it might have been the other Enzo in the corner looking just as worried.

Last Saturday was the first of four bouts over the coming months in which Enzo Calzaghe’s reputation at one of the best trainers in the world is put to the test.

Heralded by both the BBC and the Ring Magazine as the trainer of the year for 2007, 2008 will determine whether he can measure up to the level of Floyd Mayweather senior, Emmanuel Steward and Freddie Roach.

In Calzaghe’s first test Maccarinelli was beaten convincingly by David Haye in the second round, but the early outcome meant his role was not easily discernable.

Maccarinelli even admitted post fight that he failed to stick to Calzaghe’s gameplan, but did the Welshman lose because of his overall deficiencies or failing to adhere to Calzaghe senior’s instructions?

Being fed less than stellar opponents in Bobby Gunn and Mohamed Azzaoui over the last year it was difficult to gauge Maccarinelli’s true ability. Even Wayne Braithwaite the ‘name’ on Enzo’s record was coming off two losses in three. Maccarinelli can punch as hard as most in the division but his defence is seldom put to the test because of Sports Network’s matchmaking.

It would not perhaps be unfair to say Maccarinelli like many in Frank Warren’s stable was riding on a wave of hype, and was not at the level of a genuine world champion. Alex Arthur is another example that immediately springs to mind.

Enzo Calzaghe has helped Maccarinelli’s career, there is little doubt, and fighting for three of the four major belts is an achievement in itself, but whether one of the other aforementioned trainers could have taken him to the next level is entirely up to debate. We’ll probably learn more about Maccarinelli in how he bounces back from defeat, as he is still young enough to make an impact on a division that is now wide open.

Next up for Enzo, he is in the corner of another fellow Welshman in Gavin Rees who will take on Andreas Kotelnik. Rees won the WBA Light Welterweight title on points against Souleymane M’baye in July of last year in only his third 12 round contest. It was a massive upset considering the opponent Billy Smith, who Rees fought prior to M’baye had a record of 9 victories against 47 defeats.

To what extent it was a horribly off night for M’baye or brilliant training by Calzaghe is contentious. M’baye had fought Kotelnik four months earlier and was extremely lucky to escape with a draw, so his recent form has been sketchy at best. Scores of 118-110, 117-112, 117-113 for Rees though, are margins large enough to give the majority of credit to the handiwork of Calzaghe.

Kotelnik is arguably a better fighter now than M’baye and will enter the bout with Rees as nearly 2 to 1 on favourite. He will undoubtedly give Rees his strongest challenge and could be the bout that makes or breaks Enzo’s worldwide reputation.

The only world champion to be entering the ring as favourite for Enzo Calzaghe is his son’s debut in the US. Joe Calzaghe is clearly the bookies favourite in the UK, but a victory over the wily old pro that is Bernard Hopkins would be a fantastic achievement. Victories over Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright showed that despite his age Hopkins is tactically as good as any fighter in the sport today and with the step up in weight it is no walkover for Calzaghe.

Finally and clearly with the least chance of victory is Gary Lockett. Despite being a pro for 11 years Lockett has never really reached European level and though his record of 30 victories (21 Kos) to one defeat looks good on paper he has never fought anyone of note.

The task is made all the more difficult in that Lockett has never fought outside of the UK and will be making his debut in the iconic Madison Square Garden against the exceptional, undefeated Kelly Pavlik. Bob Arum went as far to compare Pavlik to the Hitman Thomas Hearns and even the anticipated mauling of Lockett would be no fault of Calzaghe’s.

Like so many trainers before him, Enzo Calzaghe’s crowning glory will always be his son’s achievements. Enzo can only teach the likes of Maccarinelli, Rees and Lockett so much, but after 20 years of tutoring Joe, there is a both a fatherly and training bond that cannot be replicated with a fighter coming under his stewardship midway through their career.

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