By Shaun Brown
Maybe it’s the heart on his sleeve, maybe it’s the natural mind set of a fighter or maybe it’s just down to the way his last fight ended but Enzo Maccarinelli isn’t walking away from boxing just yet.
The 33 year old light heavyweight who carries a 38-7 (30) record has just about seen and done it all in a professional career that began nearly fifteen years ago: World title glory at cruiserweight, some savage and unexpected defeats, an all-British unification showdown with David Haye and problems outside the ring have given the big man a rollercoaster ride that he is keen to stay on.
In April this year, Maccarinelli travelled to Germany as a heavy underdog to take on current WBA light heavyweight champion, Jurgen Braehmer. The fight was over by the fifth round but not as many had predicted. Instead, the challenger had to be pulled out of his corner after suffering a horrific looking injury to his right eye.
Four months on and the Swansea fighter talked to Boxing Scene about that fight, the run of horrendous bad luck during his camp and why he isn’t quitting.
Boxing Scene: Since the Braehmer fight what’s been happening?
Maccarinelli: Nothing much just ticking over doing my training keeping on top of things making sure I don’t get too fat! I’m fit, I’m strong and to be honest I haven’t been out of the gym. I know my eye looked horrendous but on the Tuesday [after the fight] I went up to the hospital to have all the x-rays and everything like that and everything was clear everything and fine. The swelling had gone completely and there wasn’t even a bruise.
Boxing Scene: Have you watched the fight back yet?
Maccarinelli: Yeah. I was strong, I was fit but for an injury for that to happen so early in the fight it just took everything away from me. To be honest even after five rounds with just the one eye I thought I was still in the fight. But there was just nothing I could do, couldn’t see nothing coming at me. I got took to the doctor in the second round and he asked if I could see. Obviously with who I am I said yes but it was obvious to everyone I couldn’t see. He should’ve taken it out of Gary’s hands (his trainer Gary Lockett) there and then. As for me saying I can’t see. There was no way on earth I was quitting.
Boxing Scene: Did Braehmer do anything that surprised you or impressed you?
Maccarinelli: I knew he was sharp, I knew he was quick, I knew he was clever, I knew he had a gameplan of hit and hold and I really think in the second round he tried to finish me off because I couldn’t see. I gritted my teeth, planted my feet and I cracked him with a left hook and from then he was gonna make no mistakes so all he did was one-two and hold. That’s all he did.
Boxing Scene: Did you watch his next fight against Roberto Bolonti? (W UD12 Braehmer)
Maccarinelli: I watched bits and bobs. I knew what was going to happen. He tired towards the end but again all he did was bam-bam hold, bam-bam hold, bam-bam hold and he was getting away with it. In the lead-up to our fight I had so many things go wrong.
Boxing Scene: Like what?
Maccarinelli: I’ll go through it now. Eight weeks out I started sparring. Just some light sparring, not a southpaw [like Braehmer]. Just to get used to getting the head smacked again. Pulled my ligament in my left elbow so that was me out for two weeks. Carried on training, carried on running, keeping fit. Two weeks later I sparred again I got caught with a right hand in the left eye and I thought ‘F****ng hell, there’s a pain’! Carried on and carried on, got caught again and it was f****ng excruciating. Sparring was stopped but no-one knew there was any problem. Went in the shower and completely went blind in my left eye so went to the hospital and had suffered a corneal abrasion in my eye. It wasn’t an actual punch it was like a glove raked the eyeball. Doctor told me what it was and I was like ‘Ah f***, what’s that?’ He told me not to panic. He said it’s one of the quickest healing parts of the body and within a week I’d be back to normal which I was.
I started training again and picked up a staph infection in my left arm which put me on anti-biotics which ballooned my weight. That unsettled me. Got my weight down a little bit started and sparring again and f****ng elbow went again. Went back to running and strained my calf! The way for me to get my weight down is my runs in the morning. I can eat my three or four meals a day as long as I do my run in the morning. I couldn’t run for three weeks so I had to find something else. A week before the fight, I started sparring again with a guy called King Davidson and it went great first day. Done eight rounds that was the only sparring I done. Second day, done eight rounds and as we finish the eight rounds he comes up with his head and the glove lace went in my eye giving me a minor corneal abrasion.
On the Friday before the fight me and Gary sat down and he asked me what I wanted to do, because there was something telling me not to fight and he said it was entirely up to me. He said you’re fit, you’re strong but I hadn’t done any sparring with a southpaw but I knew how to fight one so I thought f **k it let’s get out there and do it. On the pads before I went to the ring I was absolutely phenomenal, I felt so good. I was punching hard, harder than when I was a cruiser. I felt so sharp. Then going to the ring there was no way I losing that fight and then BANG my eye closed. F****ng gutted.
Boxing Scene: Have you ever experienced that much bad luck before?
Maccarinelli: Don’t get me wrong I’ve gone through camps where things have happened but nothing like that. Nothing at all. It was only me and Gary that knew but there was no excuse. I made the decision. There’s a couple of fights in the past which I won’t say when I should never have been in the ring but I made the decision to go through with it. On fight night I was fit, I was strong, I made the weight comfortably and I looked the part. I got there and I was ready to go. Most things go wrong in a training camp, very rarely things go right but I didn’t think that would happen!
Boxing Scene? Is the Braehmer rematch the only fight you want and is he the only option?
Maccarinelli: To be honest I haven’t thought about it but that would be the one I really, really want. I like to think that I put up such a good performance with one eye and I’d like to have another shot. I think the figures we done were very well, something like 3-4m viewers on German television. I had a standing ovation when I left the arena. The general public liked how well I acted in the lead-up to the fight and with the loss after and how well I took it. There was no other way I could really take it. It happens. Nothing to dwell on, it’s happened before and it’ll happen again just unfortunate it happened to me.
Boxing Scene: If the rematch didn’t happen would that be you over with boxing?
Maccarinelli: I don’t think so. For the first time in my life I felt amazing. After everything that went wrong I felt amazing. I’ve got a great trainer in Gary Lockett who just fills me full of confidence. I feel super strong at the moment. It’s taken me a year and half to two years and I’m finally doing the weight properly. Everyone thought it’d be a big struggle at light heavyweight and it’s not. I ate three meals a day all the way up until the day before the weigh-in. I do things right. The way I put the weight back on I do it right. And like I said on the pads in the changing room I felt a million dollars.
Shaun Brown is the UK Editor at Boxing Scene and a contributor to Boxing Monthly. He can be contacted at [email protected] with any news, views or stories you may have.