Big WBO Cruiserweight belt holder Enzo Maccarinelli is presumably a realist. In interview, he strikes me as a level-headed fighter who understands the sport’s political intricacies enough to realise facing top-line contenders in every bout isn’t possible, he’ll also digest the fact tomorrow night is all about Joe Calzaghe v Mikkel Kessler. But despite that presumed pragmatism he must be frustrated by the search for a worthy opponent to tackle, he’ll certainly wish to avoid the criticism levelled at him following the Bobby Gunn fight.
That search, like so many WBO title fights – including a fair few Joe Calzaghe bouts in the past – has gone down to the wire. Unheralded Algerian, Mohamed Azzaoui is the final name in the frame following the entirely embarrassing debacle surrounding preferred choice Ezra Sellers. A selection causing even the usually compliant British Boxing Board of Control to say ‘no mas’. It has also been rumoured Rob Calloway rejected a relatively lucrative offer to step in, the American fought very recently and is growing in repute as a cruiserweight following a long career as a ‘tank-town’ heavyweight.
Humiliating for Maccarinelli, entirely the right decision for British boxing – although only if Azzaoui provides more resistance than the semi-retired veteran Sellers was believed capable. Adding to the salt in Maccarinelli’s wounds is the impending fight between David Haye and Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck for the ‘real’ Cruiserweight crown. Via claim and counter-claim, Haye and the big Welshman came close to facing one another but terms could never be agreed, or, in truth, were never offered with a genuine desire to make the fight happen or at a time viable for either combatant. Both fighters ached for the bout, but I believe their promoters were more circumspect on the benefits of the clash to the longer term fortunes of their respective fighters, and pay packets.
Haye has, thus far, had the last laugh given the credibility of his next fight. Maccarinelli is left as the pursuant in a chase likely to end in disappointment if Haye makes good on his intention to win, vacate and head up to heavyweight.
Good luck to Enzo Maccarinelli, an improving professional, tomorrow night. Even better luck to his matchmakers in 2008.