Tommy Barber – London
Had it not been for a trigger happy timekeeper who cut the opening round short by 47 seconds, then Shane McPhilbin may very well have extended his reign as British cruiserweight champion on Friday, March 23 as he knocked down Enzo Maccarinelli and was ready to close the show, however, the immediate respite allowed the Welshman to recover, who went on to out-point McPhilbin unanimously at the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton.
Official verdict: 111-115, 111-116, 110-115; unanimous decision to Maccarinelli.
As early as round one, McPhilbin – as he promised pre-fight – lay heavy leather onto Maccarinelli in an attempt to test his chin early. The punishing shots were reciprocated in kind by the Welshman and, stunningly, it was the former world champion at 200lbs who was the one who was dropped with a minute left on the ring clock. Enzo stumbled to his feet and dropped back to his knees while the referee administered the ten count, however, Maccarinelli finally made it vertical but, bizarrely, even though there were 47 seconds left in the stanza, the ring bell sounded, thus allowing Enzo – who was clearly dazed and glassy-eyed – to retreat to the red corner and recover.
Knocked down twice in round three but with only one being official, McPhilbin’s slaughter of a British cruiserweight legend continued despite the advice from the Maccarinelli’s corner who implored the Swansea pug to get behind his jab rather than walking into Shane’s power shots. In rounds three and four, Enzo began showing good fighter’s instinct by clearing his head, stalking McPhilbin and stealing the upper hand.
In round five, a tiring McPhilbin resorted to clinching and complaining to the referee in an attempt to disrupt the ascendancy Maccarinelli was enjoying and, in round six, the ring veteran’s power began to take effect as Shane was staggered with a big-time right hand. In the seventh, Enzo restricted McPhilbin by fighting at mid and long range, striking Shane with crisp lefts and, with near enough every landed punch, McPhilbin – whose work-rate had slowed significantly – kept turning his back on his man.
Even though McPhilbin had gassed considerably, he could never be counted out until the contest was concluded, as he demonstrated in his most recent fight: during his British cruiserweight championship win versus Leon Williams, he was far behind on the judges scorecards but knocked Williams out late on. This, combined with Maccarinnelli never boxing 12 full professional rounds in over five years added greater credence to Maccarinelli’s trainer Dean Powell’s words of advice – to jab and keep McPhilbin at bay.
In the ninth there was even more controversy as Ian John Lewis awarded Maccarinelli a knockdown much to McPhilbin’s chagrin as he vehemently protested the decision. Maccarinelli initially appeared to better McPhilbin with a three punch combination, two strikes to the head followed by one to the solar plexus… all appearing to cause great damage, however, Maccarinelli then pushed down on McPhilbin, causing Shane to glove down and Lewis to give a count.
McPhilbin lost heart in rounds ten and 11 but, even so, Powell still implored Maccarinelli to keep his shots straight but at distance, never from short-range as, if he got caught in a tear-up, then the implication was he would taste the canvas again. That canvassing never arrived and Maccarinelli obtained a unanimous decision and his first British championship to boot.
“Nothing against Shane but that’s the worst I’ve ever boxed… but that might be down to his tactics,” Mac conceded to Box Nation with the Lonsdale belt draped over his shoulder. Regarding his ability to rise from the deck to win on points, he added: “I was fine when I got up, I totally recovered. I just felt weak in there.”
McPhilbin, who was unaware that poor timekeeping denied him the chance to secure a surprise opening round stoppage, said: “When he went down first time, I thought I’m gonna get him, I gonna get him, then when he went down the second round I thought it again.
“I didn’t think I was knocked down, if you saw it again you wouldn’t say it was. It was an honour to be in there with him and to knock him down twice.”
With the win, Maccarinelli rose to 35-5-0, 27ko, while promoter Francis Warren declared a rematch will be discussed.