16 January 2008
The build up begins. We’re just over seven weeks from the Enzo Maccarinelli fight on March 8 and the days are ticking down at an alarming rate.
I flew out to North Cyprus on January 9, giving myself a solid eight weeks to whip my body into the best condition of my career. Having spent much of 2007 in North Cyprus training for the Jean-Marc Mormeck fight, it’s now a case of solidifying and then bettering the kind of shape and form I felt before that fight.
Before leaving for North Cyprus, I spent a few days in London and attended a pre-fight press conference at Greenwich’s impressive O2 Arena. Despite various venue rumours beforehand, the Maccarinelli fight will take place at the O2 – which is great news for my London fans. The O2 is located in South London and I was born and raised in South London - so it’s a nice fit.
As I said before, though, I had no problems going to Wales and boxing Maccarinelli over there. I would have taken this fight anywhere in the world – it doesn’t bother me one bit. On fight night, the crowd - whether English, Welsh or from the planet Mars - all becomes a blur.
At the press conference I came face-to-face with Maccarinelli for the first time since the fight was signed, and also discovered that American cable giants SHOWTIME will be televising the fight live in the USA. That’s great news for me, as it will extend my profile beyond the British Isles. My eventual goal is to compete in America against the best heavyweights in the world, and the exposure from channels like SHOWTIME will go some way to enabling me to do that.
Even on this side of the Atlantic, the interest for this fight has been mind-blowing. Because I’ve been away in North Cyprus for months on end, it’s always a massive culture shock when I come back to London for a few days. It’s not so much the change in weather and temperature – though that is a major shock also – but more due to the interest this fight has generated over here. When I’m away in North Cyprus I can enjoy some anonymity - nobody really bothers me, and nobody really knows who I am or what I do.
Yet when I travel back to England, I’ve barely stepped off the plane and there is a queue of people asking me when and where the Maccarinelli fight is happening and how I’m going to knock him out. It always takes me by surprise. I guess this is what people mean when they compare this fight with Maccarinelli to the Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn clashes of the 1990s. An all-British match-up will always grab the attention of the nation.
Although Enzo and I are in no position to boast the kind of profiles Eubank and Benn had back in the day, you could argue our fight is bigger and more meaningful on the global stage. After all, I hold the WBC and WBA titles (the most respected belts in the world), as well as the Ring magazine belt, and Enzo takes the WBO title into the ring. We’re the two best cruiserweights in the world going in against each other for all the marbles. It’s also a guaranteed tear-up, whereas Eubank always had the option of outboxing Benn if and when he chose to.
I believe I have those kind of options in this fight, too, but we’ll see on the night. If I had been looking at a Benn and Eubank fight all those years ago, I’d have probably picked Benn to win every day of the week. He was the bigger puncher, more exciting and fought with his heart on his sleeve. It’s only when you’re older, and wisen up a little bit, that you see the difference between a big puncher and a clever puncher. Eubank was the clever puncher and it told. I see myself as the clever puncher in this fight with Maccarinelli.
Whatever the eventual outcome, the winner on March 8 will be given the opportunity to go and establish himself as a British boxing star, a la Benn and Eubank. This fight on March 8 is the biggest all-British clash since Eubank and Benn met for the second time in 1993, and that was one of the main reasons I decided to stick around at cruiserweight and make this fight a reality.
Just like Ricky Hatton’s brave effort against Floyd Mayweather last December, this is the kind of fight that will elevate and return British boxing to the level it used to occupy. Boxing deserves to be on the back pages again, and this fight with Maccarinelli is the kind of fight that will capture the public’s imagination.
Everyone’s got their opinion on this fight and, most of the time, the opinion is split. I realised that as soon as I touched down in London again. Interestingly, on the night Maccarinelli and I touch gloves at the O2 Arena, Millwall and Swansea City football clubs will meet in Swansea. With me being from Millwall and Enzo coming from Swansea, it’s an interesting little starter before the main course in Greenwich.
I’m now facing over seven weeks of graft in Hell’s Kitchen to prepare the recipe I’ll be dishing out to Enzo Maccarinelli on March 8. I’ll report back when the ingredients start falling into place.
No comments have been posted.
RAILTON ROAD SE24,
Leasehold, For Sale
TEA TRADE WHARF SE1, £1,295,000 , For Sale
TOWER BRIDGE WHARF E1W, £550 , per week, For Sale
PROVIDENCE SQUARE SE1, £1,600,000 , For Sale