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Maccarinelli inspired by Calzaghe

By Peter Shuttleworth

Enzo Maccarinelli and Joe Calzaghe
Enzo Maccarinelli and Joe Calzaghe were stable-mates for three years

Enzo Maccarinelli has vowed to fill Welsh boxing's void following the retirement of Joe Calzaghe.

The 28-year-old, who lost his WBO title to David Haye in March 2008, continues his comeback against Ola Afolabi for the interim WBO cruiserweight belt.

Maccarinelli, who faces American Afolabi at Manchester's MEN Arena on 14 March, said: "I want to prove there is life in Welsh boxing after Joe.

"Joe enjoyed an unbelievable career and I want to carry on his legacy."

Two-weight world champion Calzaghe, who defeated American legends Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr in his last two fights, retired from a stellar 15-year unbeaten career in February.

The 36-year-old, who beat Chris Eubank to win the WBO super-middleweight title in 1997, has been Welsh boxing's leading light for so long.

But now Calzaghe passes the baton onto his former stable-mate and best friend.

And Maccarinelli is ready to take up the challenge and step out of Calzaghe's ominous shadow when he fights Afolabi on the undercard of Amir Khan's clash with Marco Antonio Barrera in Manchester.

Enzo Maccarinelli
Before the Haye fight I was taking things for granted, I wasn't with Enzo Calzaghe as much as I should and I wasn't looking after my diet properly

Enzo Maccarinelli
"I always wanted to be the flag-bearer of Welsh boxing when Joe retired," said Maccarinelli.

"And I was well on my way until I made a cock-up against Haye and now it is up to me to put things right.

"Continuing Joe's legacy is a lot of pressure but I'm doing it for me and my family, I love boxing and I'd do it even I wasn't getting paid.

"I look up to Joe and I want to do what he did and unify my division. I want to win everything and be known as one of the best, like Joe."

Maccarinelli is a student of trainer Enzo Calzaghe's renowned Valleys fight club made famous by the trainer's son Joe.

Now Calzaghe Jr has quit boxing, Maccarinelli and stable-mate Bradley Pryce, who fights alongside him on the Manchester bill, want to prove that the Calzaghe gym will go on.

"I want to regain my rightful throne," Maccarinelli told BBC Sport.

Maccarinelli was confident of ruling the cruiserweight world before his battle of Britain with Haye for the undisputed crown last February.

But Haye demolished the Welshman inside the second round at London's O2 Arena last year and Maccarinelli's career has stalled since.

The man nicknamed 'Big Macc' was due to fight American Jonathon Banks in July but it was delayed twice and was set to go ahead in December until Banks' 11th withdrawal.

Maccarinelli ended up fighting Matthew Ellis at heavyweight and destroyed his opponent, who had just two days notice, inside two rounds.

Now, though, the power-punching showman from Swansea is determined to use his Haye humiliation to drive him to follow in the giant footsteps of champion Calzaghe.

"I'm back focus fit, strong and focused," said Maccarinelli.

"I don't want to put the Haye defeat behind me as it is driving me on. I've no excuses about that fight, the better man won on the night.

"I made a lot of mistakes that I've got to learn from and put right - and that is to become undisputed champion, that is still my aim.

"The defeat has made me hungrier and people see the difference in the shape of my body.

"I'm taking it more serious now as before the Haye fight I was taking things for granted, I wasn't with Enzo Calzaghe as much as I should and I wasn't looking after my diet properly.

"Now I've sorted all those things out and I'm the consummate professional."

Maccarinelli's defeat to Haye is one of two blemishes on his 29-fight record while Afolabi, also 28, has one loss and three draws in his 13-fight career.

"He likes to lay on ropes and let you punch yourself out," said Maccarinelli. "That would be a bad idea against me."

see also
Maccarinelli stops Ellis in two
06 Dec 08 |  Boxing
Awesome Haye stops Maccarinelli
09 Mar 08 |  Boxing

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