Maccarinelli faces McKenzie this Saturday night at Motorpoint Arena
Swansea warhorse Enzo Maccarinelli will be seeking to recapture the kind of big hitting form that saw him reign on the WBO World Cruiserweight throne for 17 months in 2006-8 when he reconvenes with Jamaica’s Commonwealth light heavyweight king Ovill McKenzie at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena this Saturday.
Their initial meet last November proved inconclusive with most feeling that ‘Big Macc’ was stopped prematurely in round two. He finally has a gilt-edged chance to atone.
Remaining tickets are available from the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena Box Office on 02920 224 488 or Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or www.eventim.co.uk
Watch the whole ‘Red Mist’ event – headlined by the unmissable WBO World Light-Heavyweight collision between Nathan Cleverly and unbeaten Russian KO king Sergey Kovalev, plus Gary Buckland’s British Super-Featherweight title defence against Stephen Smith and Commonwealth Light-Heavyweight Champion Ovill McKenzie’s rematch against Enzo Maccarinelli – live and exclusive in the UK on BoxNation (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546) from 7pm. Join at www.boxnation.com
Enzo’s quest shall certainly be bolstered by the presence of Gary Lockett, both throughout his preparation and fronting his corner on fight night.
Himself a monster hitting middleweight, who held the WBU title and challenged Kelly Pavlik for the WBC and WBO belts in Atlantic City, ‘The Rocket’ is now one of the brightest and most respected young coaches in British boxing.
The 36 year old discussed his 20 year association with Maccarinelli with boxing writer Glynn Evans.
“I first met Enzo back in 1993 when he was just 13. I was three years older. We were both part of a Welsh schoolboys squad that won a record eight British titles at the Assembly Rooms in Derby that year. Enzo was very big for his age and, even then, a huge hitter. I remember our fathers got on very well. The Maccarinellis are very nice people.
Later, as pros, Enzo and I trained together for a period at Enzo Calzaghe’s gym in Cwmcarn. We certainly weren’t enemies but we weren’t especially friendly outside the gym because, at that period of my career, I just wanted to get my training done and leave. I’ve never really associated or socialised with boxing people. Enzo, Gavin (Rees) and myself were all very similar in that respect. However, we always respected each other.
Enzo was WBO cruiserweight champion and really flying at the time; very dedicated and with a fantastic attitude. We did spar occasionally but they were always light spars because Enzo was too big and had to hold back. He was a massive hitter.
I left the Calzaghe gym but, like everybody else, I was very concerned for Enzo’s welfare after he had a string of bad knockout defeats a few years back.
To me, it seemed that he never really recovered his confidence after losing so decisively and so quickly in his world title unification fight to David Haye in 2008. David was a truly world class fighter who immediately moved up to heavyweight and succeeded up there.
Had Enzo been able to regroup, he could easily have regained the cruiserweight title and cleaned up. However, he struggled to draw a line and move forward. His confidence had gone.
That said, people seem to forget that against Ola Afolabi and (Alexander) Frenkel – both very, very good fighters -Enzo had proved himself technically superior and was well ahead on points. But, in his eagerness to impress and land a big finishing shot, his defence let him down. He’d started to neglect the basics.
Enzo’s chin might not be the very best but the shots that finished those two fights landed bang on the button and were delivered by two very heavy handed, proven world class guys. Those punches would probably have stopped any cruiserweight in the world. But it’s not as if Enzo’s taken a lot of stick in prolonged wars.
Dean Powell approached me to work with Enzo, following his British title win over Shane McPhilbin. Though Enzo had been dropped twice early in the McPhilbin fight, to be fair, the shots landed to the back of his head and really the ref should’ve warned Shane. Also the fight came shortly after Enzo’s dad died – they were extremely close – and his son was diagnosed with autism just a couple of days before the fight.
Even still, I have to admit that I was apprehensive about working with Enzo. I knew I had to speak with him first, see what was going on in his head. He opened up to me, told me he still wanted to be a world champion but I told him we needed to be realistic, look at the British scene first and take things from there.
Technically, Enzo is very capable but he’d been neglecting his defence, failing to cover his left side when he unloaded the right and vice-verse. Having been coached for a long period by Brian Hughes, the master of defence, I thought I’d be able to help him; tighten him up and hopefully instil a bit of the old confidence.
Look, lots of people whisper that Enzo shouldn’t be fighting and question why I should risk my reputation by coaching him. But, trust me, Enzo ain’t going to retire. He’s still very ambitious. Therefore it’s crucial we get him into the best possible condition we possibly can and that he’s looked after by the person who believes in him most.
Obviously Enzo copped a six month ban for failing a drugs test after the McPhilbin win. It’s my view that if an athlete tests positive for a banned substance that they have to be held 100% responsible. The reason that Enzo’s punishment was so light was because the banned substance was not listed on the package of the supplement Enzo took. WADA accepted that. Enzo’s no cheat.
Enzo’s a model professional. I’ve got a great set of lads at my gym and, alongside Kerry Hope and Gavin Rees, he’s a fantastic role model to them all. His attitude is spot on and his hunger, particularly, is really refreshing at this late stage of his career.
Enzo’s always positive, always laughing, always enthusiastic. He’s a great dad and a great husband. He’s a God in Swansea and a God in Welsh boxing because of everything he’s achieved as a world champion in this sport and all the youngsters look up to him.
I always remember when he first defended his (WBU) title against Mark Hobson. In about the second round Enzo took a real crack and his legs stiffened. However, he came on really strong down the stretch, broke Hobson’s heart and won on points. At that time, Enzo was pretty much training himself.
That showed that, even working on his own, away from the boxing gym, Enzo really pushes himself. When I agreed to work with him I knew my job would just be to help with the technical and tactical side. Enzo can be relied upon to take care of the fitness, nutrition and weight-making himself.
In our first fight together, the first fight with Ovill, Enzo started hesitantly and was a little gunshy. He was allowing Ovill to bully him and drive him back in straight lines. However, he was just starting to warm into it; blocking nicely and unloading some nice little counters to the body.
Yes, he took a shot but I think (referee) Ian John-Lewis knows he made a mistake and jumped in too early. People could see from Enzo’s reaction (to the stoppage) that he was okay but by the time the referee realised his mistake it was too late. If the ref could turn the clock back I’m sure he would. I’m certainly not about to slaughter him for it.
That was nine months ago and its true Enzo’s not getting any younger but he really lives the life away from the gym. The delay shouldn’t be an issue. His diet is exemplary and he only drinks (alcohol) about twice a year. Unlike Ovill, he’s had a tune up in the interim (wrsc6, Carl Wild, in April).
I know some people are trying to drum up interest in a future all Welsh world title clash between Enzo and Nathan Cleverly but the McKenzie rematch is no certainty and I certainly don’t want to look past this fight. I’ve enormous respect for Ovill who began as a journeyman but has turned his career around and proved he’s a man to be reckoned with.
Ovill is very strong and powerful. He’s beaten quality fighters like Tony Dodson, won Prizefighter and gave Tony Bellew plenty of problems.
But I think Enzo’s got more than a good chance of winning the rematch. He’s had some excellent sparring with (ex ABA heavyweight champion) Chris Keane who’s very heavy handed yet he’s shown absolutely no sign of frailty. Personally, I’d be very surprised if Enzo turns up on the night like a rabbit in the headlights.
Enzo talks about wanting a shootout, having a blast with Ovill but he’d be better sticking with his natural attributes.
He’s sharper, has the better skills and is even stronger than Ovill. Enzo’s also the more natural banger. Ovill wings that right hand very hard from down by his heels and never seems too concerned about what’s coming back at him. Enzo’s power is more a product of exceptional timing, speed and accuracy. It’s the ones you don’t see that destroy you.
For me, Enzo’s still a better all round fighter but it’s all about delivering on the night. It’d be a really wonderful story if he can pull it off.”