Boxing: Haye starts path to Maccarinelli

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The Independent Online

Tonight at two different but similar venues, two of British boxing's most vulnerable and entertaining fighters will enter the ring at the start of a year which should end with them in the same ring.

Tonight at two different but similar venues, two of British boxing's most vulnerable and entertaining fighters will enter the ring at the start of a year which should end with them in the same ring.

At the Brentford Leisure Centre, west London, David Haye will fight the former British heavyweight title challenger Garry Delaney in a six-round contest.

At the same time, Enzo Maccarinelli will defend his World Boxing Union cruiserweight title for the sixth time when he meets Rich LaMontagne at the Bridgend Sports Centre in Wales.

Delaney against Haye was first scheduled to take place back in October 2003 when Delaney was a genuine cruiserweight and still looked like a lively opponent. He withdrew, but last year he did meet Maccarinelli.

Haye, 24, was meant to win the International Boxing Organisation cruiserweight title last September when he took on the 40-year-old veteran Carl Thompson, but he ran out of ideas, desire and stamina, and was stopped in five rounds. His one venture since that night lasted 92 seconds, and it is unlikely that Delaney, who is now over 16 stone, will fall quite so quickly.

Last April Maccarinelli knocked down Delaney a total of seven times in his fourth WBU title defence, but when it was over the beaten boxer remained unimpressed with the young Welshman's power. On that night, he tipped Haye to defeat Maccarinelli if they ever met.

Not much is known about Maccarinelli's opponent this evening, but he enters the ring with a record of six defeats in 36 fights and the nickname of "The Mountain". Perhaps The Mountain's best fight was seven years ago, when he lost on points to a quality boxer called Vassiliy Jirov.

Assuming that both Maccarinelli and Haye come through tonight's exertions with the minimum of fuss, there is no reason why they should not slowly move closer to each other and provide the British public with that rarest of boxing events, a genuine domestic showdown.

Last year Haye even came up with a sales slogan for the fight. He said: "It should be called Two Skinny Chinny Bangers.'' That just about sums up Haye and Maccarinelli perfectly.

Maccarinelli is also 24 and, like Haye, has suffered just one defeat, and also like Haye, he has stopped a lot of his opponents, having finished 14 of the 19 men that he has beaten before the final bell. Haye's statistics are slightly more impressive, having stopped or knocked out all 11 of the men that he has beaten.

If there is a boxing fairy, the type with wings, then surely she would wave her magic wand and put these two fine young men with dubious futures and suspect chins in the same ring to give all of us boxing fans a bit of excitement.

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