ENZO Maccarinelli has revealed that a recent sparring trip to Germany has left him with renewed hope for his future in the sport.
The former cruiserweight world champion has suffered four defeats in 12 fights since losing to David Haye in a 2008 unification showdown.
And 2012 proved a particularly difficult year for the popular Swansea puncher, trained by Cwmbran’s Gary Lockett.
Inside the ring he was banned from boxing for six months after testing positive for a banned substance found in a nutritional supplement, reunited with and then split acrimoniously from trainer Enzo Calzaghe and suffered a second round stoppage defeat to Ovill McKenzie that was extremely premature.
But that doesn’t come close to his tribulations away from the ropes with the death of Maccarinelli’s father and mentor Mario and one of his children being diagnosed with autism.
Added together it amounted to a miserable 12 months, but Maccarinelli insists he’s been reinvigorated ahead of his rematch with McKenzie in Cardiff on August 17.
“I had a terrible year last year, I lost my dad, I found out my little boy was autistic on the day I fought Scott McPhilbin, my worst performance, and then I had the drugs ban,” he said.
“I’ve started to come to terms with things and I’ve just come back from Germany (after sparring with former Nathan Cleverly challenger Robin Krasniqi) and if that hadn’t gone well, I’d have called it a day.
“I won’t say what happened in the sparring because it’s a code of the sport but I know I wouldn’t have carried on if I hadn’t come back happy.
“I’ve been close to calling it a day. My dad died three weeks before I last fought in Cardiff and I was in a trance, I thought I’d be booed because of my bad blood with Nathan Cleverly but I got cheered and it threw me emotionally, I was terrible.
“But I am back from Germany happy, I got offered two fights and you know I’m going to pick the harder one, I am looking forward to it.
“I’m going to come forward and throw and box.
“My life is changing. I’ve taken over my dad’s gym, I have a youth boxer ranked in the world top ten and I love the sport, I love being involved with it.”
Maccarinelli also moved to finally lay to rest the perception he doesn’t like his light-heavyweight rival Cleverly.
The pair were stablemates in the Team Calzaghe Newbridge gym for several years and sparred hundreds of rounds together.
“There is no bad blood between Nathan and I personally speaking,” he said.
“The night I lost to Alexander Frenkel (in 2010) Nathan fought Karo Murat and I was out there screaming and shouting for Nathan to win.
“But then his dad (father and trainer Vince) said some things about me and that’s sparked the rivalry, but I have nothing against Nathan.
“I did an interview when I moved to light-heavyweight, saying Nathan was my friend and I didn’t want to fight him. Now I do.
“But I understand that at the moment, there is nothing to show I deserve to be in the ring with him.
“Everyone knows I can punch, that’s what everyone thinks is my only hope, but if I look my old self against McKenzie, perhaps someone will take notice.
“But I have no problem at all with Nathan. I’m a Jack, he’s a Bluebird and it makes sense for us to fight but I have to prove I deserve to be in the ring with him.
“Age catches up with you. I haven’t got long left, but I want to give it the best chance I can.”