Brave McKenzie forced to quit on medical grounds

Martin Bowers and Ovill McKenzie

Martin Bowers and Ovill McKenzie - Credit: Archant

Cruiserweight has to call time on superb career

Siar Ozgul hits out against Ivan Godor (pic Natalie Mayhew)

Siar Ozgul hits out against Ivan Godor (pic Natalie Mayhew) - Credit: Archant

The ever-smiling cruiserweight Ovill McKenzie was for once a picture of dejection as he sadly admitted that he can no longer pursue his dream of capturing that elusive world title.

The 36-year-old, whose 13-year ring career will always be linked with east London’s Peacock gym and boss Martin Bowers, was forced to retire after hospital treatment for a heart condition last week.

And the popular campaigner, who rose through the ranks from being an underdog opponent to within a whisker of winning a world title, made his disappointment clear.

“It is with great sadness that I announce I am retiring from boxing. I can no longer pursue my dream of being world champion,” he said.

Siar Ozgul celebrates his win (pic Natalie Mayhew)

Siar Ozgul celebrates his win (pic Natalie Mayhew) - Credit: Archant

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“I would like to thank everyone from my team to the fans – it has been a pleasure getting to perform for you all.”

McKenzie’s final contest was in October last year when he was the victim of hometown decision against IBF world champion Victor Ramirez in Buenos Aires.

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The judges declared the fight as a draw after McKenzie took the fight at just 11 days notice.

A Commonwealth champion at light-heavyweight, he then stepped up to take the British and Commonwealth belts at cruiserweight, although he insisted he could still compete in the lighter division.

McKenzie’s 38-fight career included a win over Enzo Maccarinelli and a terrific up-and-down tussle with Tony Bellew, both recognised world champions, plus stoppages of Tony Conquest, Jon-Lewis Dickinson and Peter Haymer.

But his heart condition was revealed by long time trainer Bowers just a few days before a September world title bid with IBO titleholder Marco Huck in Germany.

McKenzie would have fought Huck, but his manager/trainer could not allow it and said: “I hated pulling Ovill out of that world title chance – it was a terrible blow.

“He will be sadly missed at the gym. When he stepped into a room everybody was happy to see Ovill and he was happy to see everybody.”

Tributes also come from many people in boxing including old rival current WBC champion Bellew, who said: “I am so sorry to hear this Ovill, you are a top-level competitor and I wish you all the best for the future mate.”

n Siar Ozgul is hungry for more title action after recording his 11th straight win when beating Slovakian school teacher Ivan Godor in five rounds at York Hall on Saturday.

The win brought welterweight Ozgul an International Challenge belt, but manager/promoter Mick Helliet insists his man is ready to fight for more prestigious awards.

A Southern Area title bid is an obvious target, but home rivals are not keen to face the Turkish-born east Londoner and he may look to take on top Europeans.

After sparring with the likes of world champion Ricky Burns, Ozgul always looked too good for journeyman Godor.

The Slovakian was forced to cling on for survival as Ozgul, who is based at the West Ham gym of Poplar trainer Barry Smith, piled on the pressure and battered him with head and body blows.

Referee Lee Cook issued finger-waving warnings to Godor for his repeated holding, before the first knockdown came in the fifth round and the end was clearly near.

Godor was battered to the canvas again, before the referee had seen enough and the winner celebrated with his enthusiastic fans.

n Billy Morgan looks to shake off the ring rust when he faces Yorkshire rival Nathan Hardy in a six-round contest on the Goodwin Promotion show on Saturday.

The 26-year-old east Londoner returns after a two-year break on a bill headed by the English super-middleweight title fight between Leon McKenzie and Jahmaine Smyle.

Another showdown pairs Matthew Chanda and Duke Micah for the Commonwealth bantamweight title fight and the show also sees Max Lovell, Ollie Pattison and Mark Little in action.

n Lansbury duo Terry Conroy and Fahad Salam warmed up for their National Youth title bids with good wins on their club dinner show in Park Lane last week.

The pair line up with a stroing east London entry at the London weigh-in at West Ham BC’s Plaistow gym tonight (Thursday) and the Championships get underway at Harlow Greyhound Stadium this weekend with London winners moving forward to the national rounds of the tournament, formerly the NABCs.

Former national finalist Conroy, 18, overcoame useful rival Connor Wright (MK Victor) and gave a good display for his points victory.

The 17-year-old Salam also impressed as he punched out a points win over Chris Smith (Trowbridge) for another home victory on the east London club show.

Also winning for Lansbury was James Fearnley, who made it five wins from six contests as he outscored Lee Browning (St Ives) for another points success.

The club’s 19-year-old light-welterweight Freddie Roe suffered a technical points defeat when rival Steve Castillo (Miguels) suffered an eye injury as was unable to continue.

n Repton BC prospects go on parade at the first club dinner show of the season at the Prince Regent Hotel in Chigwell tomorrow (Friday).

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