Enzo Maccarinelli didn't get a fair shake as he attempted to lift the Commonwealth light heavyweight title from Ovill McKenzie on Friday in Liverpool, stopped in the second round on a horrible call from referee Ian John-Lewis.
I have certainly been a critic of Ian John-Lewis in the past, as both a referee and a judge, but this isn't a time where I actually feel the need to go on about my personal opinion of his general job performance. If you haven't seen the fight, the video is already online and easy to find, and if you watch it, I think you'll see what I mean.
I felt bad for him. He knew he made the wrong call. Absolutely knew it. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he very well might have been in there with a sense that he needed to be on heightened alert in the case of Enzo Maccarinelli, who has taken some horrible knockout losses over the years, and is a fighter that fans worry about.
No matter how professional John-Lewis might have wanted to be, might have intended to be, I don't think there's any way that couldn't have been in his mind. He knew the fighter's history. He is no doubt a boxing fan himself. And this was a very human error. I'm not shy about being critical, but this time, I genuinely just feel bad for both the fighter and the referee. This was something that was a true and honest and even heartfelt mistake. This didn't come from incompetence or bias or anything like that, I don't think.
The end came when Maccarinelli took a few shots on the ropes, with his gloves up high in the guard. McKenzie had rattled his head around a bit, but Maccarinelli was alert and aware. He was playing defense. The fight was taking on an interesting shape -- Maccarinelli was keeping his hands up to avoid the big shots, and McKenzie was taking a big risk throwing so many bombs at Maccarinelli without getting much by way of results. He landed here and there, but was also running the chance of gassing himself out, and he's not known for his stamina in the first place.
Maccarinelli was boxing, playing defense, and seeing if he couldn't tire McKenzie. It was probably the exact right game plan. It may have paid off. It may not have. But now we won't know for sure.
McKenzie's record improves to 21-11 (10), while Maccarinelli falls to 35-6 (27).
Also on the bill, Paul Butler won the vacant British super flyweight title with a first round body shot knockout of John Donnelly, sending the Liverpool crowd into a frenzy. It was a left hook dead on target that sent Donnelly down on a delayed reaction, as he backed off and took a knee near the ropes. In clear pain, he tried to get himself up, but just couldn't. It was a hell of a shot.
Butler is now 9-0 (4), and Donnelly drops to 13-3 (3).
Liam and Paul Smith also won their bouts on the card, with Liam taking a 12-round points win over Gary McMillan in a British junior middleweight title eliminator, and Paul returning from last year's loss to George Groves with a four round stoppage of Tommy Tolan.