Enzo Maccarinelli: “If I am honest even though I won British, Commonwealth, European and World titles I feel I could have done more.”

Enzo Maccarinelli: “If I am honest even though I won British, Commonwealth, European and World titles I feel I could have done more.

There is always some trepidation when I interview retired fighters. Many struggle in retirement, missing the limelight and the buzz of the sport. Boxing is the hardest sport of them all they say, but for many, retirement is often the bigger fight. Thankfully, apart from an ongoing battle with long Covid, the former cruiserweight champion of the world Enzo Maccarinelli is doing just fine.

The lingering effects of the virus leaves his body depleted at times, but as you would suspect Enzo is winning his battle. The time isn’t empty, the problem for many of his contemporaries, Enzo over Zoom told FightPost he is doing well in retirement:

“I’m doing ok in retirement. I run a little amateur club, I’m obviously lacking a bit of the motivation at the moment due to the long Covid issues, I’m just drained more than anything. I also do property and some other bits and bobs, I’m doing ok.”

Enzo was in Leeds last month helping the Australian Ebanie Bridges with her latest fight on UK soil. He still cuts an imposing figure with a handshake to match. Trust me, he has some grip. You have a feeling even his fist bump could do some serious damage.

Enzo 41, still looks near his old fighting weight and there has been talk of a comeback. There always is in boxing. Unfinished business, boxing is a hard drug to replace, or more often than not, they need the money, fighters seemingly always have one eye on a return to the ring in retirement. Enzo is no different, the reasons are different but thoughts of one last dance are never far away:

“I have always had this dream of fighting again, but every single time I get to the point where I feel as good as I did 10 years ago something happens that puts me back. So there is some higher power telling me not to do it. My running times are better my punch output is better than it’s ever been. I won’t tell you who I have been sparring with but I have been to London and it’s been easy. But then something happens and someone is telling me not to bother.”

The reasons for a comeback are slightly different for Enzo. Too many fights taken at the wrong time, leaves regrets and a big dose of what if. It is about closure, just one last time with a healthy body:

“When I look back on my career, half of those fights I shouldn’t have even been in the ring. Some I lost some I won. I don’t blame anyone for those that I lost. But at my age, I would like to go in there one last time as 100% as I can be, but if it doesn’t happen I am alright.”

Enzo is perhaps one of the most underappreciated British fighters of recent times. Maybe remembered for his defeats rather than his entire resume, Enzo deserves better. He has a full set of titles, and win or lose brought excitement and drama to his sport. The record and achievements are better than most but Enzo told me that he still feels he could have achieved more:

“If I am honest even though I won British, Commonwealth, European and World titles I feel I could have done more. There were certain fights I shouldn’t have gone into. If I was doing an office job I wouldn’t have been allowed to go in let alone a boxing ring. I look back on some of those nights and think what was I doing, I look back now and think how stupid I was.

“At least twenty of my fights I trained myself. When I say I trained myself it was a stopwatch on the floor punching a bag and no sparring. So I look back at what I have done and I am happy with what I achieved but I think when I look back on certain nights I could have done more. But winning the grand slam in British boxing and winning the world title I have still got to be happy.”

Every fighter has regrets, the earlier comments about taking certain fights when he should have declined or pulled out obviously are still in his thoughts. They drive the possible comeback, losing to fighters he thinks he should have beaten, those thoughts are hard to let go of:

“There were some fights I went into that I can honestly say I didn’t lose to the better man. Again no fault of anyone else I was the one who went through with it. That eats away at me a little bit, but as someone said, hindsight is a bitch get over it.”

There is one fight that stands out for Enzo, he didn’t tell me what the fight was, but a quick search told me it was the David Haye fight. On the biggest night of his career, the body let him down, fighting anyone, let alone Haye, should have been the furthest thing from his mind. But despite the obvious pain of that fight, there are no excuses, no blame:

“I went into a fight weighing 14 stone 3lbs a week before the fight spot on for a cruiserweight. But then a week later, I weighed in wearing tracksuit bottoms, two phones, a set of keys in my pockets and weighed 13 stone 9lbs. I had caught gastroenteritis, I lost nearly a stone in weight I didn’t eat or train in that week, I had no business being in a ring, I was absolutely gone. But I was never going to pull out, I was probably looking for someone to pull me out but it didn’t happen. Frank Warren would have pulled me out if he had known. No excuses, nobody made me fight, I shouldn’t have gone through with it, but I did.”

Even over Zoom, it becomes apparent that Enzo is a pure fighting man, and a proud one, an old school type of fighter. He would fight anyone, the money he got not the primary motive for any fight:

“I was very easy to deal with. If Frank Warren offered me 100k I would just take it, I didn’t care I just wanted to fight the best.

For Enzo, it was about the fight never more telling than his choice to turn down a more lucrative gig in Prizefighter and instead going full Rocky and going to Russia for European glory:

“Once I got offered money to enter the Prizefighter plus the extra money if I won it as well. But then I got offered a European title fight in Russia for a quarter of the money I had been offered to just enter the Prizefighter. But me, I didn’t care about the money I wanted that European title so off I went to Russia and I won the European title. I was never scared of anyone, I would fight anybody, the only person who would send shivers down my spine is my father.”

Even in what many would consider his decline, Enzo still achieved more than his fair share, his career was a lot more than losing in two rounds to Haye. Even in his twilight years, Enzo was in the mix for world titles. To his credit, Enzo didn’t make too much of a win over a badly faded Roy Jones Jr in 2015. It looked good on his record, but Enzo knew what it meant. The win over Jones was his last win, one last step through the ropes in 2016 prompted the final bell to chime.

Enzo seems happy in retirement, the connection with Bridges helps them both in different ways. He has been involved in the Blonde Bomber’s last two training camps and the working relationship will continue.

But his resume shouldn’t be dismissed or forgotten. The majority of his 8 career defeats came near the end of his career, and the prime should always outweigh the decline. Enzo still wants to hear his name be introduced one last time, the lingering voice in his head fighting against fate that is telling him to leave the past where it is. The clock is ticking on one last hurrah, and despite the urge, Enzo will do what’s right. Inner peace is hard to find, but fight again or not, you sense Enzo will find what he is looking for.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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