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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 07:46 GMT
British boxing's sure-fire classic

By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport at the O2 Arena

Just when you thought things couldn't get any better for British boxing, promoter Frank Warren digs out his cheque book and announces the most mouth-watering domestic match-up in 15 years.

Enzo Maccarinelli (left) and David Haye
Maccarinelli (left) and Haye promised fireworks on 8 March

Sandwiched between Ricky Hatton's heroic defeat to Floyd Mayweather and Joe Calzaghe's eagerly-anticipated super-fight with American legend Bernard Hopkins, David Haye v Enzo Maccarinelli at London's O2 Arena on 8 March cannot be anything but a bona fide classic.

London's Haye, 27, climbed off the deck to wrest the WBC and WBA cruiserweight belts from France's Jean-Marc Mormeck in Paris in November and is also The Ring magazine's title-holder at 200lb.

His one defeat came in his 11th fight, when veteran Carl Thompson proved too gristly to chew, but Haye has since proved himself to be a fighter of much style and, as his bout with Mormeck proved, no little heart.

He can also bang with the best of them, with 19 of his 20 professional victories coming inside the distance. And what makes his clash with Maccarinelli such an exciting prospect is the fact that the Swansea fighter hits just as hard.

If you've never been to a boxing event, this is the one to go to, no doubt about it

David Haye

Maccarinelli, the same age as Haye, also has just one defeat on his record, a knockout by journeyman Lee Swaby in his fourth paid fight, but of his 28 victories, 21 have come inside the distance.

As Maccarinelli put it so succinctly at the news conference to announce the fight: "We've got two boys who pretty much fight the same way - rip the other guy's head off."

The last domestic bout to compare with Haye-Maccarinelli was the Nigel Benn-Chris Eubank rematch, when the former put his WBC super-middleweight belt on the line against the latter's WBO strap in front of 42,000 paying fans at Old Trafford in 1993.

And the fact Haye-Maccarinelli looked dead in the water less than a month ago makes it all the more gratifying for boxing fans, who are suddenly having to get used to seeing the fights they want to see after years of disappointments.

606: DEBATE
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"This is the fight the fans want to see," said Haye, who had threatened to move up to heavyweight after his victory over Mormeck. "And if you've never been to a boxing event, this is the one to go to, no doubt about it."

The amiable Haye is spot on, but the challenge for Britain's boxing journalists and media outlets will be to convey to the wider sporting public just how significant a fight this is.

While Benn and Eubank were household names, Haye and Maccarinelli are largely unknown beyond hardcore boxing fans. And while Benn and Eubank genuinely despised each other, Haye and Maccarinelli happen to be old pals, which will make it a harder sell.

Nevertheless, Warren and both men insist this is a fight that sells itself. As Haye put it: "We don't have to prove ourselves outside the ring, we're two of the most aggressive fighters out there.

"Look at our knockout percentages, they're ridiculous, we don't have to scream and shout and turn tables over, it's going to be a war."

Haye claims to have mixed in more exalted company than Maccarinelli, and a look over their records would seem to bear this out. But the Welshman has looked twice the boxer since linking up with trainer Enzo Calzaghe and it looks a genuine 50-50 fight.

Maccarinelli will not be unduly worried that he is fighting in Haye's back-yard, as the capital's fighters rarely command vociferous home support, although Maccarinelli would surely have gained a slight advantage if the bout had taken place in Wales.

Either way, Warren is already making confident noises about the 20,000-seater O2 Arena selling out and one round or 12, Haye-Maccarinelli is sure to be another glorious chapter in British boxing's most recent golden age.

SEE ALSO
Macca welcomes Haye's challenge
17 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Macca makes comfortable defence
04 Nov 07 |  Boxing


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