British Scene: Ovill McKenzie vs Enzo Maccarinelli Preview

Enzo Maccarinelli with trainer Dean Powell. - Scott Heavey

Dave Oakes previews Friday's Liverpool Olympia show, headlined by light-heavyweights Ovill McKenzie and Enzo Maccarinelli. The co-feature has undefeated Paul Butler facing John Donnelly in a clash for the British super-flyweight title.

Former world champion Enzo Maccarinelli returns to the ring this Friday night, taking on Ovill McKenzie for the light-heavyweight Commonwealth title.

Mckenzie will be making the second defence of his second reign as champion, having regained the title inside a round versus Jeff Evans before bludgeoning Tony Dodson inside three rounds in his first defence.

Despite the eleven losses on his record, McKenzie is a decent operator at domestic level. He’s experienced, carries knockout power and has a sturdy chin.

I think it’s fair to say that most people would have preferred it if Maccarinelli had stayed retired after his brutal knockout loss to Alexander Frenkel - one of five bad knockout losses on his record.

He’s marked his return to the ring with three consecutive victories but hasn’t looked like the fighter he was five years ago when he was defending his WBO belt. He won the British cruiserweight belt last time out, albeit in a somewhat controversial manner – being saved by a ludicrously early bell in the first round against Shane McPhilbin, having been floored heavily and being on extremely unsteady legs.

It took the best part of six rounds for Maccarinelli to fully recover from the effects of that first round, and by that point, McPhilbin was himself beginning to wilt. Enzo eventually won the fight on points but came away with little credit after a turgid fight that showed just how little he’d got left in the tank.

One feels the move down to 175lbs won’t help matters, add that to the fact he’s been inactive for over six months (due to a drugs ban) and his chances of a victory here look slim. One thing the Welshman still has is his power, the kind of power to end any fight at any time, so whilst he’s not the fighter he was, and is the underdog, he can’t be completely written off.

Maccarinelli is the more rounded boxer but with the knockout power they both possess, the fight will most likely end early, very early. I can see this being a case of who hurts who the quickest winning the fight, and with Maccarinelli’s vulnerable chin, the pick is for McKenzie to get the job done inside four rounds.

The co-headliner sees Paul Butler face John Donnelly for the vacant British super-flyweight title. Both are from the Merseyside area and the atmosphere inside the arena should be electric.

The inexperienced Butler, 8-0 (3), has been a pro less than two years, whereas Donnelly has fought fifteen times in his five year career and has challenged for the British title previously – suffering a five round stoppage up at bantamweight.

Donnelly likes to fight on the front foot but is less comfortable when pushed back. Butler is undoubtedly the more talented of the two, he’s a well-rounded boxer who is willing to stand and trade despite preferring to control fights using his skill and footwork. The way he judges the distance between himself and his opponent is very impressive.

Neither are big punchers, so it looks likely that the fight will go the distance. Butler, despite his inexperience, is the clear favourite and should be able to outbox Donnelly. If Butler can control the fight from centre ring early on, he should discourage Donnelly enough to gain complete control of the fight by the end of the fourth round, taking every round thereafter to win somewhere around the 118-110 mark.

Two of the Smith brothers fight on the undercard. Liam takes on Gary McMillan in a British title eliminator at light-middleweight and Paul takes on Tommy Tolan in his first fight for twelve months.

Liam has impressed thus far in his career and seems to be improving with every fight. McMillan is a tough foe but doesn’t possess the punch to discourage Smith, he’s only lost three times and has never been stopped, or even dropped, if my memory serves me correctly.

I expect Smith to win, if he manages to do it inside the distance then it will be classed as an impressive win.

Paul Smith is fighting for the first time since getting knocked out by George Groves inside two rounds last year. He’ll have a bit of ring rust to shake off but Tolan shouldn’t cause him any problems.

Ideally, Smith would get some rounds under his belt, but I can see him taking Tolan out inside two or three rounds, most probably with the help of bodyshots, something that Tolan has been susceptible to in the past.

e-mail Dave Oakes

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