By Shaun Murphy — I must admit it, from the start of his career, I had massive hopes for the Italian-Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli. I suppose, I’m biased: I love the big guys, and I love big punchers. For that reason, I saw ‘’Big Mac’’ going all the way. Maccarinelli’s promoter, Frank Warren, advertized his charge as the hardest pound-for-pound puncher in the world and, due to the huge array of British cruiserweight talent at the time, I was excited about the future fights the 6’4, Swansea-born fighter would be involved in. Enzo won the WBO cruiserweight title [by a first-round KO over the Englishman Mark Hobson], and looked set for big things..
Then, for Maccarinelli, disaster struck when he was KO’d in the 2nd rd against the rambunctious David Haye. Maybe naively, I thought Maccarinelli would KO the ‘’Bermondsey Bomber’’ and capture the cruiserweight division’s undisputed title.
After losing to Haye, Maccarinelli was poleaxed by the London-born Ola Afolabi’s right hand in the 9th rd. Consequently, many people believe, the Welshman has regressed and have written him off as a faded force.
However, at twenty-eight, the Enzo-Calzaghe trained puncher still has a chance of redemption. Maccarinelli’s still hungry and, in a cross roads fight, the Welshman has been matched against an undefeated Russian called Denis Lebedev.
Last Chance Saloon
This Saturday, in the M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, we have a chance to view how much Maccarinelli has left. In effect, this is the most important fight of Maccarinelli’s career. Because if ‘’Macca’’ loses to the Moscow-based Lebedev; his chances of reaching the top level again is effectively over.
By all accounts, the 29-year-old East European is a tidy, well-schooled fighter; and very ambitious for success in his chosen profession [although he looks a little basic]. Admittedly, I haven’t seen the Russian fight many times; however, I’ve watched Lebedev overwhelm a few limited opponents on the internet. The Russian looks capable of giving Maccarinelli a fight, but nothing else…
Lebedev, unless he’s improved, has a porous defense and, although he’s 17-0-0 , the Russian lacks conclusive one-punch power. The 29-year-old southpaw fights in the typical upright, Eastern-European amateur style; and I think he’s tailor made for Maccarinelli’s comeback fight.
Without a doubt, if ‘‘Macca’’ can fight with the skill, control and ring generalship he displayed in his third defence of the WBO cruiserweight title against Wayne Braithwaite, he will stop Lebedev very early. I predict, Maccarinelli will patiently outbox Lebedev and will knockout his wide-open opponent around the 8th rd.
The ‘’Big Mac’’ can still redeem himself
David Haye was without-a-doubt a great cruiserweight, and now he’s left the division the seemingly impossible could happen if Maccarinelli can perform to his previous level. Ordinarily, after two crushing loses, the odds would seem impossible for a fighter to overcome the physical, psychological and promotional effects and re-enter the sport’s elite.
However, the prime for the bigger guys is usually around the age of 30 so the Welshman has plenty of time left to rectify his mistakes.
Although, if I was Maccarinelli, I’d avoid Thomas Adamek and Steve Cunningham, a restored Enzo Maccarinelli could definitely win a fragment of the world title. Anyway, good luck to both the fighters on Saturday and I hope it’s a good fight