by Chris Williamson
On Friday night at East London's famous York Hall, Ovill McKenzie should have been challenging for the EBU Cruiserweight title against Ukrainian, Dmytro Kucher. McKenzie, though, picked up an injury four weeks ago and in stepped Ovill's old adversary and now friend Enzo Maccarinelli.
The two split a couple of memorable bouts at light-heavyweight, the first of which Ovill won via controversial second round KO in November 2012, before Enzo gained revenge with a brutal eleventh round stoppage nine months later.
Kucher won the EBU title on Friday by knocking Maccarinelli out in the first with an impressive display of composed power punching, finishing with a short left hook that floored the Welshman. Maccarinelli bravely beat the count but the referee wisely stopped the fight.
BoxingScene.com caught up with McKenzie (25-12-1, 13 KOs) for the latest on his injury, his view on the Kucher-Maccarinelli result, his old nemesis and now WBC champion Tony Bellew, and who he'd like to face next.
“I'm back in training now,” McKenzie confirmed, before providing his view on Enzo's performance against Kucher: “He (Enzo) started too slow and wanted too much time,” he said. In a nice touch, McKenzie was on hand at ringside to lend his support and consoled Maccarinelli as he left the ring.
The 36-yeart-old is excited about returning for the first time since an impressive draw with then IBF cruiserweight champion Victor Ramirez, a challenge staged in Ramirez's home country of Argentina.
“I'm mandatory for the EBU,” stated McKenzie. When asked if home advantage is important (something that was secured by promoter Frank Warren for the scuppered Kucher challenge), he responds with a smile: “I'm happy either way.”
“I'm ‘The Upsetter’. I'll go anywhere," he added, referring to his ring alias.
This writer was ringside when Denis Lebedev crushed Ramirez to add the IBF title to his WBA belt and McKenzie says of Ramirez: “He should have given me the rematch. Lebedev is the one I really want now.”
We go on to talk about newly minted WBC champion Tony Bellew, who McKenzie dropped twice, once heavily, before being stopped in the eighth of their first 2010 bout, going down to a clear decision loss in a rematch seven months later.
“Tony (Bellew) doesn't want to give me another shot at him until I have a world title,” he revealed. “He (Bellew) told me: ‘I've beaten you twice already’. and what can I say to that?,” asks McKenzie rhetorically, before adding with his trademark smile: “He's right!”