Nelson Out, Maccarinelli Takes On Hobson

22.09.06 - Long reigning WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Johnny Nelson has conceded defeat in his battle to regain full fitness in order to face the Interim champion Enzo Maccarinelli on Saturday 14 October at the M.E.N Arena. Despite making a miraculous recovery from an horrific knee injury, a persistent back injury has restricted Nelson's movement that left him unable to train properly for the fight that was to be chief-support to Joe Calzaghe's WBO/IBF World Super-Middleweight title defence against Sakio Bika..

Maccarinelli will now face Yorkshireman Mark Hobson, who stepped in to replace Nelson in March this year, in a re-run of their thrilling encounter. Hobson gave Maccarinelli a scare in the first two rounds by shaking up the then WBU World Champion but was dropped in the third by a big combination before taking the Welshman to the scorecards.

To Nelson's credit, rather than again postpone the fight against Maccarinelli, he has decided to relinquish the title that he has defended 14 times since defeating Carl Thompson in March 1999, in order to allow Maccarinelli, subject to WBO approval, to be elevated to the status of full champion.

Dominic Ingle, Nelson manager, said, "Johnny is absolutely devastated that he cannot face Maccarinelli in what, win or lose, would probably have been his last fight anyway but the continuing problem of the back injury meant that he couldn't train properly and had he gone through with the fight, it would have put him in distinct disadvantage against a dangerous fighter like Maccarinelli. Johnny's future is undecided at this moment but he felt that it was only right to vacate the title to allow Maccarinelli to wear his crown,"

Promoter Frank Warren said, "I feel sorry for Johnny as he has been a great champion and ambassador for the sport of boxing and I respect his honest decision to withdraw from the fight. However, on a positive note, the fans at the M.E.N Arena will now get the chance to see a repeat of the thrilling encounter between Enzo and Mark with the WBO World title at stake."

Huddersfield scrapper Hobson defeated Pavol Palakovic earlier this month in London and has been asking for a rematch with Maccarinelli.

He said, "My dream has come true and I'm delighted that I've been given the chance to get my revenge on Maccarinelli. The first fight was a great one but this one will be better. I've been more active this year and haven't had a rest in between fights so I'm in great shape and my weight is perfect. We both know what to expect from each other and one thing's for certain, when I hurt him, this time I won't let him off the hook."

Big Mac won the Interim title with a stunning knockout of Marcelo Dominguez in July and is expecting a tougher fight from Hobson in the rematch.

He said, "It's a big blow that Nelson is out because I've been gearing myself up to fight him for so long. He's been a great champion and a good role model for the sport over the years and it's just a great shame that the two best cruiserweights in Britain did not get to meet each other. However, Hobson will really be up for this fight and I reckon he will be more prepared this time. The last fight was a good scrap for the fans but this time I'm not going to go the distance - I will knock him out."

Calzaghe v Bika headlines a fantastic fight card that also features the WBU World Featherweight Championship between Stephen Foster Jnr and Derry Matthew, The English Light-Middleweight Championship between Andrew Facey and Matthew Hall, a Final Eliminator for the British Super-Featherweight Championship between John Murray and Ricky Burns plus The Central Area Middleweight Championship between Paul Smith and Dean Walker.

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Article posted on 22.09.2006

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