It was a night of early knockouts in Liverpool, United Kingdom. The main event ended in early and dramatic fashion, while the chief support simply ended way too early.
Paul Butler kicked off a pre-birthday celebration (he turns 24 on Sunday) with a 1st round knockout of John Donnelly in Friday's main event at Olympia Halle. The co-feature saw Christmas come early for Ovill McKenzie, who benefited from the inept officiating of Ian John Lewis in being granted a 2nd round stoppage of former cruiserweight champ Enzo Maccarinelli.
The closing moments of his 23rd year of life were perhaps the biggest of Butler's budding pro career to date. A breakthrough performance was delivered earlier this summer, when he dominated previously unbeaten Ashley Sexton over 10 rounds.
On this particular occasion, Butler was simply explosive. The super flyweight prospect played Liverpool in all but two of his nine pro fights thus far, thus negating any hometown advantage thought to be enjoyed by Donnelly. This one will leave a lasting impression, as Butler came out firing from the opening bell.
Donnelly's plan apparently was to ride out the storm, but that opportunity never came. A left hook upstairs froze the local fighter, and Butler didn't waste any time in capitalizing. A perfectly placed left hook to the body took a few seconds to set in before Donnelly crumpled to the canvas.
The full ten count was issued, with Butler wildly celebrating on side of the ring while Donnelly bore a look of a man in severe pain.
The official time was 1:09 of round one.
Butler improves to 9-0 (4KO) with the win, his fourth of 2012. Donnelly falls to 13-4 (2KO), having now lost twice in his past three fights.
While Butler's star is on the rise, Maccarinelli's decision to continue to fight remains largely questioned. In his defense, the line result for his latest ring appearance hardly does justice to the severe injustice which took place.
McKenzie, a career spoiler, was favored to claim another notable scalp. The fight didn't go according to script in the opening round, as Maccarinelli offered a respectable account of himself.
The tide turned in round two, but not to the point where anyone needed to hit the panic button.
Referee Ian John Lewis felt different, badly jumping the gun in a fight-ending decision that had many calling for his immediate banishment from the sport.
McKenzie appeared to have Maccarinelli hurt and perhaps well on his way to a spectacular stoppage. The 32-year old wisely covered up, looking to avoid getting caught with anything major and waiting for his opportunity to return fire.
The third man misinterpreted the moment as a sign that Maccarinelli was done, stepping in to rescue a man who wasn't in need of a life preserver.
The crowd rightfully booed the decision, and there was even enough of a pause to where Lewis could have stepped back and allowed action to resume. Instead, it goes in the books as a second-round stoppage, as McKenzie advances to 21-11 (9KO). The win is his third straight, following a pair of hard-fought losses against Tony Bellew.
Maccarinelli's own three-fight win streak comes to an end as he falls to 35-6 (27KO). All six career losses have come inside the distance, though he deserved a far better fate on this night - or at least a conclusive ending.
Both bouts aired live on Boxnation in the United Kingdom.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox