By Frank Warren
I’m very tempted to invest in the 9-2 odds that bookmakers are offering on Enzo Maccarinelli becoming Wales’ only ever two weight world champion.
Tonight the 33 year old former WBO cruiserweight king from Swansea meets veteran German Juergen Braehmer for the WBA light-heavyweight title at Rostock on Germany’s Baltic coast. BoxNation televise live.
Victory would establish ‘Big Macc’ as the first Brit to win a second world title by dropping down a weight, since Cornishman Ruby Bob Fitzsimmons in 1903.
It is impossible not to like the amiable Welsh-Italian who I’ve been involved with almost from the onset of his pro career fifteen years ago.
He has been a fabulous ambassador for our sport and that is why I headed the queue of those imploring him to retire after he endured six disturbing stoppage defeats.
However, closer scrutiny reveals that almost all occurred against world class, brutal punching cruiserweights who’d routinely outweigh Enzo by two stones come fight night.
In several instances, he was well ahead on the judges’ cards only to get carelessly clipped whilst chasing a highlight reel kayo to satisfy his army of fans. His defence on occasions hasn’t been the stoutest but, since dropping to 175lbs, he now competes against smaller, less powerful beasts, but to me this chink in his armour was letting his heart rule his head.
Defending champion Braehmer, though unquestionably a class act, is a controversial and unpredictable character who has served three stints in the slammer.
Two years older and four inches shorter than Maccarinelli, the German maybe the weakest of the reigning world champions. His southpaw stance is unlikely to inconvenience a man who sparred hundreds of rounds with compatriot Joe Calzaghe – the greatest portsider of them all!
And an examination of Braehmer’s CV suggests he is yet to face anyone who hits anywhere near as hard as the boyo from Bonymaen.
In this instance, fighting abroad is unlikely to be a key factor. With 61 stoppage wins between them, it would be a surprise if the judges are needed. All the pressure will be on the German to satisfy his home fans and Macc has won overseas before, bagging the European title in St Petersburg, Russia.....on a first round knockout!
The term ‘puncher’s chance’ may have been coined for Enzo who is not only a seriously concussive hitter with either glove but also the most spiteful executioner once he has an opponent wounded.
Thirty of his 38 wins have come by stoppage and, if he connects flush, he has the raw power and timing to knock men out for ten minutes, never mind the required ten seconds.
His phenomenal kayo ratio means that many additional technical qualities are overlooked. More importantly, he has a fabulous jab and new coach Gary Lockett deserves props for tightening his defence and instilling greater control and patience.
Enzo has profited from a full eight week training camp and lands in good form; triumphant in six of his last seven. Always a ferocious competitor, he claims to be as hungry as ever.
As coach Lockett stresses, if Enzo can stay in the fight, he’s almost certain to land clean once....and that might be enough for him to enter the history annuls. Fingers crossed.
What was dubbed the biggest night in north-east boxing history fizzled to an anti-climatic conclusion at Newcastle last weekend.
Just 35 seconds into the second round, the IBF bantamweight title fight between Darlington’s Stuey Hall and West Rainton traveller Martin Ward was declared a ‘technical draw’ after the principals accidentally cracked skulls, leaving Ward unable to continue.
Alas, a rematch is highly unlikely. Champion Hall’s mandatory obligation looms large but I’m hoping to facilitate the fight British boxing craves; a summer showdown with unbeaten Ellesmere Port sensation Paul Butler.
The Metro Arena was still rocking, largely due to the buzz building around Sedgefield light-welter Bradley Saunders who personally shifted 1,200 tickets.
The 28 year old Beijing Olympian might have been the most experienced English amateur international of this Millennium but he carries the stone fists and spiteful mindset which are tailored for the pros.
Last weekend, Saunders looked absolutely unstoppable mowing down ex Commonwealth challenger Mitch Prince in four rounds to record his ninth paid win.
The grapevine has it that Bad Brad has been obliterating decent middleweights – 20 lbs heavier – at the MGM gym in Marbella, Spain, where he is based.
Last week reigning British champion Curtis Woodhouse rejected my substantial offer to defend against Saunders while Commonwealth king Willie Limond and ex European boss Paul McCloskey are also swerving Bradley’s public challenges.
Nevertheless, money talks and I’m confident of delivering him a credible champion to devour sooner rather than later.
Provided he remains focussed, I believe Saunders has the tools and temperament to re-ignite big time boxing in the north-east and become the region’s best ever fighter.
Amateur boxing is presently booming in Britain and that can only auger well for the sport’s future.
Last week, boxing was one of the few sports to have its central funding increased, post London 2012, after a significant rise in the number of participants.
Last weekend, 3,500 spectators – including 500 corporate clients – attended the Scottish ABA finals at The Emirates Centre in Glasgow. If you exclude the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the 2012 Olympics, this was the biggest crowd at a British boxing event since the ABA finals moved from Wembley Arena back in the 1980s.
The Repton ABC in Bethnal Green, east London is the oldest and most famous boxing club in Britain.
Founded in 1884, it has proved a nursery for future world champions such as John H. Stracey and Maurice Hope.
This weekend, the club boasts a record 13 finalists at the national schoolboy finals in Huddersfield, including a pair of grandsons from the club’s chief junior coach Bobby Beck Snr.
Hats Off! Next week, the English ABAs commence and boxers shall compete without head guards for the first time since the 1988 Seoul Olympics. It’s a move I’ve long advocated.
There is negligible evidence to indicate that the guards limited injuries. Indeed, they simply increased the target area and restricted boxers’ peripheral vision.
They also served to de-personalise the fighters as individuals. Their removal is a huge step in advancing amateur boxing as a spectator sport.Tags: Frank Warren , Enzo Maccarinelli , Juergen Braehmer , Bradley Saunders , Braehmer-Maccarinelli , Braehmer vs. Maccarinelli