The doors of the last chance saloon closed firmly behind the battered features of Enzo Maccarinelli, the former WBO world cruiserweight champion when he lost for the third successive time.
The Welshman, seemingly gun-shy after batterings by David Haye – when he lost his title last year – and then by the little known Nigerian Ola Afolabi, was stopped in three rounds by the unbeaten Russian Denis Lebedev.
Maccarinelli (pictured) had said before this fight that if he lost again there was nowhere left for him to go. It seems he is right. For while he did not announce his retirement, he admitted he is now seriously considering it. "I don't think I've got it anymore," he said. "I don't know what it is. I've just got to go away and try and come to terms with things."
At 28, he is but a shadow of the fighter who became the world champion. He seems to have lost confidence despite switching for this fight from his long-term trainer Enzo Calzaghe and moving to a new training base in Lancashire.
For the first couple of rounds it did seem as if he had recaptured some of the old sparkle, boxing cautiously and using his jab effectively. But then Lebedev, a southpaw out of the same Frank Warren stable, responded in the third with a two-fisted assault that had Maccarinelli clinging on, a left hook closing his right eye quickly until it became a mere slit. He then took such a facial barrage that after two minutes 20 seconds of the round referee Terry O'Connor stepped in to end the fight.
With this victory Lebedev claimed the WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight championship. He could well go on to world honours.
Warren has advised Maccarinelli to retire. "He's a super bloke, one of the nicest boxers I've ever dealt with," he said, "and I think he should quit now because it would not be right for him to have to lower his ambitions."
The trio of ex-Olympians continued their down-the-bill apprenticeship against domestic opposition in their third appearances as pros, all of them winning impressively inside the distance. Middleweight gold medallist James DeGale produced the most pulsating showing yet with a one-round win over experienced Ulsterman Ciaran Healy. A series of body punches put the Irishman on the floor towards the end of the round and a second knockdown brought the towel fluttering in from his corner. Light welterweight Frankie Gavin was similarly sharp in disposing of York's Graham Fearn in two, again a rib-bending body punch sending Fearn down on one knee before a left-right combination brought an intervention after two minutes 28 seconds. Welterweight Billy Jo Saunders also required two rounds to beat Matt Scriven, the Nottingham fighter taking a pounding in his own corner.
Kell Brook of Sheffield, one of the most flamboyant young fighters around, defended his British welterweight title for a third time. The 23-year-old stopped Paisley's Michael Lomax in the third round.Reuse content