By George Ogier
Certain people may suggest otherwise but brutal knockouts are a boxing audience’s primary pay off. A huge percentage of fans watch the sport hoping to see one fighter triumph via the big finish.
YouTube is a perfect barometer of this inescapable fact. Mention Usman Ahmed to most people and they won’t have a clue who you’re talking about. Whilst perhaps not knowing his name, there is a reasonable chance that they will have seen Ahmed on YouTube. He became an Internet sensation after an elaborate ring entrance was followed up by Ahmed getting brutally knocked out in the first round.
In all probability, Zab Judah will end up an inductee of boxing’s hall of fame. Whilst Judah’s talent can never be in doubt the video of his crazy dance upon being knocked down by Kostya Tszyu will follow him to his grave. Almost two million people have watched the Judah clip and more than six million have watched the Usman Ahmed video. Proof that however it comes about, people love a knockout.
It would be a lie for me to claim to that I don’t enjoy seeing a boxer sent to the canvas on occasion. However, there have been some knockouts over the years that have made me uneasy to say the least. In recent times Manny Pacquiao’s abrupt disposal of Ricky Hatton silenced me. I was equally disturbed by David Haye’s remorseless destruction of Enzo Maccarinelli in 2008.
Many feel that Enzo never truly recovered from his defeat to Haye. Maccarinelli’s most recent outing on Saturday only added fuel to that fire.
Maccarinelli challenged Bulwell’s Shane McPhilbin for the British cruiserweight title in Wolverhampton on Saturday night. Enzo was knocked down twice on his way to a unanimous points decision win but that doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.
Maccarinelli got a huge slice of luck when the first round was mysteriously cut short by 47 seconds. This after Enzo had been floored heavily by McPhilbin. The Welshman was down again in the third round but rallied throughout the rest of the bout to claim victory.
The fight is now under investigation by the British Boxing Board of Control as a result of the truncated first round. The likelihood is that the Board will call for a rematch and Maccarinelli himself has said he would welcome such a decision. Whilst a rematch would sell tickets and ignite the fans’ interest, is it in Enzo’s best interests to keep boxing?
In another time Enzo Maccarinelli would have been an unrivalled superstar of Welsh boxing. Unfortunately for the big Swansea man his career has straddled that of two separate world champions from the principality.
Maccarinelli’s initial ascent to the WBO cruiserweight title was forever in the shadow of gym mate, Joe Calzaghe. Enzo’s attempted rise to the top in the wake of his defeat to David Haye has also taken a back seat in the affections of Welsh boxing fans. In this instance it is the burgeoning career of Nathan Cleverly that has stolen Enzo’s limelight.
We have now reached a situation where it isn’t just other boxers that are clouding people’s memories of Maccarinelli. It is performances from the man himself too. Nonetheless, it should never have been allowed to reach this stage.
Enzo Maccarinelli is the one of the most popular men in British boxing. Genial, polite, thoughtful and gracious in victory as well as defeat. At a time when boxing has suffered from serious image problems there are worse people to hold up as a role model than Enzo.
Maccarinelli’s recent work on fledgling boxing channel BoxNation has shown that he could carve a decent post-fight career for himself in the media. In spite of this new avenue of employment we are still talking about a rematch with McPhilbin and worse still, a possible all Welsh showdown with Nathan Cleverly.
Maccarinelli has participated in ten fights since his contest with David Haye. In four of those bouts the Welshman has been hurt badly. Losses against Ola Afolabi, Denis Lebedev and Alexander Frenkel have all made for uncomfortable viewing.
In each of these contests Enzo had given a decent account of himself and then got caught with a huge shot. There’s no disgrace in getting clocked by the one you never see coming but worryingly it is becoming a habit for Maccarinelli. With all due respect to the fighters dishing the big hits out, the quality of opposition is dipping each time as well.
Enzo has never been particularly hard to hit. In his early career he was knocked out by Lee Swaby, a warning of future results, perhaps. When a boxer is that easy to catch with big shots then punch resistance is key. It would appear that Maccarinelli no longer has the necessary resilience to absorb such punishment.
I am a huge fan of Enzo Maccarinelli, the boxer, the commentator and the man. His raw honesty has endeared him to many people in and around the sport of boxing. One of life’s biggest challenges is to know when to quit. Telling another adult how to conduct his or her life is also a tough task to undertake.
I would hate to see Enzo pulled away from the sport he so clearly loves. At the same time, to suffer lasting damage as a result of fighting on for too long would be a tragedy. Maccarinelli claimed the British cruiserweight title on Saturday night. It was a belt that Enzo’s recently deceased father was desperate for his to win. Perhaps now would be a fitting juncture to call time on a career that has entertained so many.