This Friday on BoxNation (2 p.m. ET) in the United Kingdom, popular battler Enzo Maccarinelli returns to the ring to face Dmytro Kucher in a 12-round cruiserweight bout for the vacant European title.
Here's a look at this matchup.
Enzo Maccarinelli vs Dmytro Kucher
Record: 41-7 (33 KO) ... Streak: W3 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6'4" / 74½" ... Age: 35
Thoughts: Maccarinelli is never a boring fighter. He's easy to like, he's got a lot of heart, he's got big power, and he's made a nice career rally overall since being stopped by David Haye, Ola Afolabi, and Denis Lebedev over a four fight stretch in 2008-09. So the action potential, and the constant "edge of your seat" feeling that Enzo brings to a fight, certainly makes this worth tuning in for just on sheer entertainment, and the fact that it's for the vacant European cruiserweight title makes it somewhat significant, too.
After his '09 loss to Lebedev, Maccarinelli stayed at cruiser for a little while longer. He stopped Alexander Kotlobay to win the European belt in 2010, losing it five months later to Alexander Frenkel. After that, at age 31, Enzo embarked on an ambitious plan to move down to light heavyweight. At 6'4", he looked gaunt at the weight, but fought healthy in a couple of toe-dipping fights just over the 175-pound limit. He weighed in at 189 to beat Shane McPhilbin for the British cruiserweight title in 2012, then went back down and was stopped by Ovill McKenzie in a Commonwealth light heavyweight title fight.
But he stayed at light heavy. He beat McKenzie in a rematch in 2013, and wound up with a world title shot (sorta) against Juergen Braehmer in 2014, where Enzo was battered and stopped after five rounds. Since then, he's gone back to cruiser, won three straight, and knocked out Roy Jones Jr in December, which put him back in the news.
Knocking out Roy Jones Jr isn't the most difficult thing anymore, and frankly was sort of predictable. Jones has little to no punch as a cruiserweight, his speed is largely gone, and he still tries to fight like he did when he was a younger man, which tends to get him cracked by bigger guys if they're any good at all. And Enzo is still pretty good, so he found Jones with a big shot and ended the fight. Anyone surprised was just being foolish going in.
Here he's against another legitimate cruiserweight, though, and a decent fighter in his own right.
Record: 23-1-1 (17 KO) ... Streak: D1 ... Last 5: 3-1-1 ... Last 10: 8-1-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6'2" / N/A ... Age: 31
Thoughts: Kucher is no world-beater, but he's a solid fringe contender sort of fighter with some decent wins, some skills, and his two pro setbacks weren't really anything to be ashamed of.
His loss came to Junior Makabu in 2013, a fight in Monaco that Makabu won by majority decision on scores of 115-113, 115-114, and 114-114. And the draw in his last fight came against Bilal Laggoune in Belgium, a country that has some very questionable hometown scoring at times. Kucher won one card 118-112, lost one 115-113, and the other was 114-114.
Kucher, from Ukraine, looked a decent prospect for a while. He beat guys like Steve Herelius and Julio Cesar dos Santos with ease, knocking Herelius out of the ring. Kucher isn't some sort of devastating, massive puncher, but he's got enough power that you have to respect it, and Enzo Maccarinelli is not known for his punch resistance. His toughness, sure -- he's a very tough guy. But he has defensive lapses and has been stopped seven times. So every time he's lost, he's been stopped. Enzo Maccarinelli has never lost a decision.
Kucher, on the other hand, has never been stopped. Maccarinelli has the power to stop just about anyone if he lands clean, but Kucher doesn't have the same defensive issues that Enzo has, either, and can be tougher to hit truly clean.
Matchup Grade: B-. It's not the most significant fight in the world, but it's not irrelevant, either. The winner gets the European title and could find himself in a world title fight by the end of 2016. Plus, again, Maccarinelli is just not in boring fights. There should be some action here. All in all, not a bad fight. It's not the elite world level, but there's enough to like.