Preview: Maccarinelli heads to Moscow to beat an all-time great

Preview: Maccarinelli heads to Moscow to beat an all-time great

Swansea’s Enzo Maccarinelli (40-7, 32KO) has been there before but if his latest trip to Russia ends in another knockout win, it will make far more noise than before.

The former WBO world champion faces ageing American legend and multi-weight champion Roy Jones Jnr (62-8, 45KO) at the VTB Arena in Moscow. Saturday’s 12 round contest will be broadcast by BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456) with the programme beginning at 4:00pm.

Vlad Hrunov, the multi-millionaire maverick who put the fight together, originally announced that the vacant WBA Super world title would be on the line and Jones Jnr would be presented with an opportunity to collect a world strap in a fifth weight category, having previously made history by winning belts between middleweight and heavyweight.

However, the plans fell through when the governing body refused to sanction the contest as neither operator was ranked in the organisation’s top 15 places. The incident ensured the bout was initially met with criticism as confused observers, including former world champion Carl Froch, questioned the it’s legitimacy, especially since the WBA’s middle tier ‘Regular’ champion Denis Lebedev has knockout out both fighters.

It’s over a decade since Jones Jnr was seen as the best across all weight-categories and calls for him to retire have been rife for a long time. What is Maccarinelli to do, though? The 35-year-old is hungry as ever but has few other options on the table and five children at home. Since a cruel injury ended his challenge to belt-holder Juergen Braehmer 20 months ago, the only opportunities have been in keep-busy bouts against vastly overmatched opponents, a level Maccarinelli won’t want to waste time with towards the final chapters of his 16 year career.

Nowadays, the once rapid reflexes that Jones dazzled the world with are far slower to the target. The 46-year-old’s hands remain at waist height but they’re more ponderous and the thoughtful feints are now rendered to anxious twitches. That said, Jones Jnr still carries clout in his short left hook and it hasn’t had to travel a long distance to drop opponents Courtney Fry and Eric Watkins, albeit at a lesser level than Maccarinelli will perform at. Maccarinelli is an underrated body puncher and if he’s able to gain leverage to land his left-hook to Jones’ ageing mid-section early on, then it will further slow down the creaking veteran. If there’s truth to the rumour that Jones Jnr is suffering from knee injuries then his once beautifully fluid mobility may malfunction.

One of the more interesting aspects of the contest will be who gains front foot position. For years, Jones Jnr has mastered the art of learning over his front foot to trigger and entice opponents into responding, before launching himself in to exchanges. The effectiveness of those pot-shotting performances has lessened over time but it’s one he still operates, while Maccarinelli will undoubtedly press the action as the away fighter. The 11-year-younger visitor will certainly be the fresher, more active and fitter of the pair – something that couldn’t be said if Maccarinelli was matched against most other cruiserweights.

Maccarinelli, who owns a 68% knockout ratio, has the height advantage and will look to use it to set up a right cross, a shot that trainer Gary Lockett will surely be eager to instruct from the corner. It goes without saying that Maccarinelli’s legacy won’t be on par with Jones Jnr’s but his performances in recent years are better. The 2013 stoppage of recent world title challenger Ovill McKenzie is beyond Jones’ achievements for some time, with the American’s last significant win coming when he halted an equally faded Jeff Lacy over six years ago.

Most betting companies have priced Maccarinelli as a slight underdog at 6/5, providing punters with a chance to more than double their money. The bolder of those fans can receive 11/4 odds if they opt to back the Welshman to win either by decision or knockout. Although more dated, Jones Jnr’s more polished pedigree has seen him edged ahead as favourite with 4/6 odds available for him to win by any method. There are 15/8 odds available for ‘Captain Hook’ to record his 46th career knockout and 5/2 for a points victory over the 12 round distance or sooner should an accidental injury end the contest.

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