Juergen Braehmer brutally reconfigured the face of Enzo Maccarinelli to force a corner retirement after five rounds in Rostock, Germany, on Saturday and, with the victory, retained his regular WBA light heavyweight title (Note: THE RING recognizes Beibut Shumenov as WBA champion).
Braehmer, THE RING No. 5 at 175 pounds, was first to be wounded over the right eye during a crisp first round, which saw both men land flush power punches. However, late in the session, Maccarinelli absorbed a jolting one-two from the German’s southpaw stance and his right eye seemed to literally disappear behind a mound of flesh.
As the visitor came out for the second he carried horrific swelling, and it’s a testament to Maccarinelli’s hallmark courage that he was able to compete for as long as he did. The former WBO cruiserweight titlist also managed to land his share of bombs in Round 4, including a string of left hooks to the head, but the durable Braehmer didn’t hang around long enough to be hit by anything terminal.
The crafty left-hander, who also held the WBO title for a short period, popped his man with single shots and occasionally doubled up, but there was no need to take chances against an opponent who was running out of time with each passing second.
The damage was gruesome and there exists the possibility of a break to the orbital bone.
“I would have been a lot more competitive without the injury,” said Maccarinelli, when interviewed by BoxNation. “I couldn’t see a thing from Round 1 onwards and I was gambling in there. I hurt him a couple of times, but I couldn’t follow up.”
Maccarinelli was unquestionably distracted throughout the contest and his trainer, former world title challenger Gary Lockett, threatened to pull him out on three occasions before following through with his promise. The doctor was summoned by the referee half way through Round 5, but amazingly let the bout continue.
“Getting an injury like this in the first round was bad luck,” said Lockett. “I didn’t want to end the fight too soon but as the rounds passed the eye got progressively worse and I was given no choice but to stop it.”
Both men weighed in at 174 pounds and Braehmer improves to 43-2 (32 knockouts).
On the undercard Kubrat Pulev, THE RING's No. 1-rated heavyweight behind the magazine's champion, Wladimir Klitschko, had the unenviable task of beating up journeyman – and very late replacement – Ivica Perkovic, in a scheduled eight-rounder.
The Bulgarian technician walked forward, looking to establish distance behind a probing left hand and released shots to head and body at will. Perkovic, who fights out of Croatia, was a ridiculously easy target and his corner stopped the slaughter at the end of three.
Pulev, the IBF No. 1 contender, is likely to face Wladimir Klitschko at some point in 2014, should the long-reigning Ukrainian defeat Alex Leapai on April 26.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing