It was a night of boxing to remember at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. Dave Woodhall reports.
Enzo Maccarinelli gained the British cruiserweight title at Wolverhampton Civic Hall last night (Friday) but his win over defending champion Shane McPhilbin was wreathed in controversy.
Maccarinelli began the bout looking for a quick win against the comparatively inexperienced McPhilbin but his hopes of a return to the big time looked in tatters when a big right hand from the champion sent him crashing to the canvas towards the end of the opening round. The Welshman got to his feet but looked dazed and headed back to his corner. Referee Ian John Lewis seemed unsure of what to do, and in the confusion the bell rang to end the round – 47 seconds early.
At the start of round two Maccarinelli still seemed uncertain and was looking to hold at every opportunity. He lasted the round without any great drama but was down once more in the third. However, with the veteran Welshman a punch away from defeat and his Nottingham-based supporters roaring their man towards what seemed certain victory, McPhilbin seemed reluctant to go in for the kill and Maccarinelli then went on the initiative, twice sending the champion to the floor, although John Lewis harshly ruled that both were the result of pushes.
McPhilbin was once more adjudged to have been pushed down in the fourth, and again this seemed harsh on Maccarinelli, who had now recovered from his earlier knockdowns and was able to take charge as the fight entered its middle stages. McPhilbin was content to hold and spoil, ducking low and on several occasions turning his back on his challenger. The referee should have been taking a firmer charge but was content to allow these negative tactics from the champion.
Round nine saw Maccarinelli in total control, with his supporters now making all the noise and McPhilbin was ruled to have been knocked down, to his obvious displeasure – so much so that he was still fuming as he returned to his corner at the bell.
The later rounds saw McPhilbin purely in defensive mode, constantly spoiling as Maccarinelli showed off his jab to great effect. The champion continued with his bizarre tactics of ducking and grabbing, on several occasions holding Maccarinelli below the knee, until the final bell,
The result was never in doubt, with Maccarinelli taking the unanimous decision by 116-111, 115-110 and 115-111, but the way in which he was on the verge of defeat and then unable to put away a game but limited opponent would indicate that any thoughts of dropping down a weight to challenger fellow Welshman Nathan Cleverly for his WBO light-heavy title are unrealistic. Enzo has had a great career but his punch resistance is now suspect and he should be think long and hard about retirement.
After the fight there was frenzied speculation about the truncated opening round, with McPhilbin’s followers hurling abuse at the officials. The British Boxing Board of Control are sure to launch an investigation, with event supervisor Dave Roden saying “We can’t walk away from what has happened.”
The other title fight on the bill was more clear-cut, Tividale’s Jason Wellborn impressing with a fifth round stoppage against Jams Flinn of Coventry to defend his Midland area welterweight belt. Wellborn was well on top throughout, putting his challenger down twice before the contest was stopped after 2: 13 of the fifth, and now looks capable of stepping up a level.
Walsall’s Martin Gethin made short work of Casaba Torma of Hungary, stopping his opponent in the second of a scheduled six rounds welterweight contest, while Tom Costello of Birmingham enjoyed a second successive inside the distance victory over foreign opposition when he stopped the Slovakian Lubimor Weis also in the second of six rounds, this time at light-middleweight.
Chris Keane of Walsall impressed when outpointing the durable Remious Ziausys of Lithuanian at cruiserweight while there were inside the distance wins for welterweight Steven Pearce of Stourbridge, who stopped Tamworth’s Matt Seawright inside two rounds and Dudley super-feather Dean Anderson, who marked his return to the ring after a 15 month absence by stopping Robin Deakin of Crawley, also in the second. There were points wins for super-middle Grant Cunningham of Stafford, who looked good in outpointing Lincoln fighter Ryan Clark, Brierley Hill welter Kyle Spencer opened the show with a win over Ricky Boulter of Lincoln while Halesowen feather Saquib Amir defeated Walsall veteran Delroy Spencer in the last fight of the evening.