When Enzo Maccarinelli was knocked out by Ovill McKenzie 19 months ago, the career of the former cruiserweight champion looked over.
Maccarinelli entered the bout as the favorite, but exited a knockout loser for the fourth time in as many years. Many in the boxing community called for his retirement, but Maccarinelli refused to listen.
Despite personal problems that included the loss of his beloved father, Mario, and the discovery that his son, Romeo, had autism, Maccarinelli soldiered on.
"Enzo has suffered the kind of setbacks that would have finished an ordinary person, “ Maccarinelli's media manager, Neil Navarra, told the South Wales Evening Post.
"But he never let his self-belief waver and, slowly but surely, he has got things back on track.” Navarra said.
So, as the experts shook their heads and looked away, Maccarinelli prepared for another comeback. He stopped Carl Wild in six rounds, but didn’t impress.
Next up was an ill-advised rematch with McKenzie.
The bout was held in Cardiff, Wales, not far from Maccarinelli’s birthplace. Local fans showed up to support him. McKenzie wasn’t concerned. He figured he’d do exactly what he had done to Maccarinelli in their first match - knock him out.
Maccarinelli (38-6, 30 KOs) built up a lead in the early rounds with intelligent boxing. Mckenzie started to come on in the middle rounds - causing the Maccarinelli throng to hold their collective breaths. The gutsy Maccarinelli dug deep in round 11. He staggered McKenzie with a check hook, prompting the referee to the stop the contest.
With the victory, Maccarinelli, 33, regained the Commonwealth light heavyweight title. On April 5, he faces another challenge as he travels to Rostock, Germany to take on WBA World Light Heavyweight Champion Juergen Braehmer.
Braehmer (42-2, 31 KOs) is two years older than Maccarinelli. He captured the title four months ago by defeating Marcus Olivera via a unanimous decision.
Maccarinelli, as always, plans to lay it on the line this Saturday.
"It is an honor to get the chance fighting again for a world championship,” Maccarinelli said at a recent news conference. “I respect Braehmer, but he won his last fights because his opponents were afraid to press the action against him. I am different. I have the mentality of a world champion. Do not blink as soon as the first bell rings.”
Braehmer sees things differently.
"Maccarinelli can let his fists fly as much as he wants," Braehmer said." I will be the one landing the decisive punches and that is all that matters. “The WBA World Title will not change hands."
No matter the outcome of the bout, Maccarinelli deserves credit for reviving a career that many buried ages ago.
“Enzo has shown huge mental strength to earn this fight," said Navarra.
"His head wasn't in the right place for a while, but you can learn a lot about yourself in adversity, and Enzo has managed to come through the other end.”