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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
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# Rumble
Column: Macarinelli laces up his gloves again as Frazier is remembered...
Doubting the wisdom of the returning Welshman and saluting Smokin’ Joe, following his recent death from cancer at the age of 67.

IT’S UNLIKELY THAT any sport enters the realms of farce more than boxing, and once again that is in evidence this week. Two weeks from tonight, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito are due to do battle at New York’s Madison Square Garden in a hotly anticipated rematch.  However, even though the fight is so close, there are doubts as to whether it will go ahead because Margarito has yet to be cleared to fight

The orbital bone injury that the Mexican picked up last time out against Manny Pacquiao means officials are hesitant to let him fight, though the delay in this decision is simply incredulous.  A New York State of Athletic Control hearing on Friday was due to resolve the matter, but instead Margarito has been told he needs to be examined by another doctor – he’s already received clearance from two.

What makes this even stranger is that board chairperson Melvina Lathan attended the press conference announcing the contest, a move which she surely would not have done if there were legitimate concerns for Margarito’s health.  A decision on the matter is expected this week, and my hunch is that Margarito will be cleared to fight.  If this does not happen, the fight could retain it’s December 3rd date and move to Dallas, Texas, much to the annoyance of thousands of fans who are already booked into the Big Apple.

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When he last left the ring after a professional fight, Enzo Maccarenelli did so having succumbed to one of the most sickening punches seen in a British ring in many years.  Alexander Frenkel had taken away his European Cruiserweight Title in Birmingham, and for all intents and purposes it seemed that the Welshman’s career had come to an end. He owed the sport nothing, he had a distinguished career, and he was walking away with his faculties intact.  That was then – last night, he laced up his gloves once more.

Maccaranelli needed just 91 seconds to stop Gyorgy Marosi in London last night, a win he hopes will propel him back to stardom. 

He’s eyeing up future contests against Commonwealth Champion Tony Bellew and against fellow Welshman and titlist Nathan Cleverly and at 31, is probably looking at this renaissance as one last bid for glory. However, Enzo is already working and doing well as a commentator, and having been knocked out five times already (four of those in his last eight fights), one wonders if this comeback is really a wise move.  He does not seem to have been the same fighter since the first of those knockouts against David Haye in 2008.

He has also dropped down to Light-Heavyweight (12st 7lbs), smaller than he has ever been as a professional.  Last night went well, but so many others have not. Let’s hope this is not one comeback too many.

This Week in Boxing History

The world of boxing came to a standstill on Monday, when a host of the sport’s all-time greats like Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson all attended the funeral of Joe Frazier

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Much has been written about Smokin’ Joe since his untimely passing, and rightly so.  Though he was arguably the third best heavyweight of his generation, he is still among the greatest of all time.  His wars with Muhammad Ali are the stuff of legend, particularly their third contest in Manila in 1975.  When trainer Eddie Futch pulled Frazier out of the contest after the 14th round, saying “no one will ever forget what you did here today”, I’m sure not even he realised how true that statement would be.

Frazier’s ability as a boxer was always unquestioned, both in victory and defeat, with his left hook particularly feared.  The power of this punch was never more evident then in the second round of his 1970 contest against Bob Foster.  Foster was a light-heavyweight champion who was looking to take the World Heavyweight crown from the then unbeaten Smokin’ Joe, but a vast size difference would prove to be his undoing in a short, brutal contest.  Frazier floored Foster with a left hook in the second, and then thirty seconds later turned out his lights with the same devastating punch.  Simply, it was Frazier at his best.

As an addendum, Frazier always felt he was slighted in terms of recognition, when compared to the likes of Ali and Foreman.  At Monday’s service, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson called for a statue to be erected in his honour in his adopted home of Philadelphia, a call which has grown louder these past two weeks.  The city currently has a statue of one Heavyweight champion – Rocky Balboa.

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