Maccarinelli takes the model approach
Preview by Daniel Heath (January 20, 2005) 
Enzo Maccarinelli
The British boxing year gets up and running on Friday at the Bridgend Leisure Centre. Heading the televised bill is Swansea’s Enzo Maccarinelli, who defends his WBU cruiserweight title against experienced American Rich LaMontagne.

It starts what is likely to be an important twelve months for the 24 year-old Welshman. A challenge for Johnny Nelson’s WBO title is inching ever closer, whilst potential domestic clashes with the likes of former amateur star David Haye and British and Commonwealth champion Mark Hobson could still materialise. It is lofty times for the, usually unfashionable, cruiserweight division in this country and Enzo seems determined to prove his worth.

He has certainly produced over the last 18 months. Maccarinelli’s career had been burning slowly until June 2003. Enzo had been feasting on the usual cast of journeymen and when he did step up in class, against the useful Lee Swaby, he was beaten convincingly in three rounds. A match with battle-hardened veteran Bruce Scott for the vacant WBU cruiserweight belt seemed a little ambitious. That view seemed to be vindicated in the first round when a Scott left hook sent the youngster stumbling to the canvas. Enzo looked in serious trouble. However, he regrouped behind his jab and in the fourth uncorked a spectacular left hook of his own. Bruce was out before he hit the floor.

Enzo has not looked back since. He earned main event status and followed up with two first round wins (over durable Estonian Andrei Kiarsten and South African champion Earl Morais). Perhaps his most impressive performance to date came against Garry Delaney last February in Newport. Maccarinelli sent the London hard man to the deck seven times (primarily with body shots), before the Englishman was rescued in the eighth. Enzo negotiated all twelve rounds for the first time against the resilient, but ultra-defensive, Ismail Abdoul in his following contest. Last time out body shots did the damage again, extending Maccarinelli’s record to 19-1 (14). This time it was the decent Dane, Jeper Kristiansen, who was unable to handle Enzo’s power.

LaMontagne’s survival chances look slim too. The 35 year-old Massachusetts man is certainly an interesting character. He’s a part-time model, actor and carpenter as well as a proffessional fighter who has amassed a 29-6-1 (24) record (mainly on the New England club circuit). He is the ambitious sort too and will be coming to win.

The evidence suggests he will be out of his depth, however. On paper this does not look a highly competitive match and even the chairman of the Massachusetts State Boxing Commission has expressed concern over Rich’s safety. LaMontagne has mixed in decent company. His claim to fame is lasting the full twelve with Vassiliy Jirov back in 1998. Since then he effectively ended the career of US Olympian Michael Bennett with a come-from-behind eleventh round stoppage victory in 2002. His next fight saw him stop decent journeyman Ernest Mateen in six rounds. They are probably his career best wins.

It has been downhill since then though for the man nicknamed ‘The Mountain’. He stepped up against fringe world-class Canadian Dale Brown in August 2003 on an ESPN televised card. Brown exploited LaMontagne’s leaky defence, lack of technique and questionable chin, putting Rich down twice en route to a lopsided ten round decision win. It was a thrashing. It got worse when Chris Thomas became the first man to stop LaMontagne next time out. The Chicago club fighter needed less than two rounds. Rich puts these losses down to distractions outside of the ring. He got back to winning ways in his last fight, although his opponent – Allen Smith - had to retire after just one round with a shoulder injury.

On balance then it looks a soft defence for Maccarinelli. A thunderous puncher to both body and head, with a solid jab and an improving defence, it’s difficult to see the Welshman slipping up. LaMontagne has a fair jab of his own, but with his wide-open defence and seemingly deteriating punch resistance make him an ideal opponent for Enzo. The fact he still harbours ambitions of his own could well mean this one is short and sweet. Look for Maccarinelli to triumph within three rounds.
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