Night Of The Rising Stars: Focus On Yassine El Maachi
By Ezio Prapotnich - At the beginning of this year, London based Moroccan Light Middleweight contender Yassine El Maachi was unsigned and struggling to find opponents. An announced fight with Steve O’Meara fell through and, after being excluded by Prizefighter, the man who calls himself “The Showman” was considering quitting or relocating to Italy, where he used to live and train with revered Italian trainer Luciano Sordini. His record is an interesting one, if you pay attention to the gaps in weight to the advantage of many of his opponents, most of which got beaten nevertheless. In a frustrating effort to launch his career, Yassine El Maachi has been fighting at Light Middle against opposition ranging from Middle to Light Heavy, in most cases virtually without notice and sometimes even for free. Still, no one wanted to fight him or promote him. There are some, including Yassine himself, who believe that this ostracism has to do with ethnic and religious background. That could or could not be part of the reason, but it probably has more to do with the fact that, because of his unorthodox and ruthless style, to fight him can be a rather embarrassing and unpleasant experience.
Article posted on 16.04.2010
Fact: if you saw El Maachi fighting, you are going to notice and remember him. Someone who did take notice is new promoter Steve Goodwin, friend of Yassine’s trainer Don Charles assistant Joe Gregory, who recognized the opportunity both for “The Showman” and himself to prove their worth in their respective fields and signed him.. The objectives are ambitious: to get El Maachi ranked in the top 30 of at least one of the major sanctioning bodies by the end of this year and possibly a world title shot within the next two. Secret negotiations are in course to secure a fight with a good American name and the option of a WBF challenge is also rumoured. With a very aggressive marketing move, Goodwin promotions put a bounty of £15000 on Yassine’s head for whoever stops him in a 6 rounder or beat him in a championship fight. Bradley Price passed on and Anthony Small turned down a £50000 offer. Hence enters Bertrand Aloa and the Night of The Rising Stars headline. But, let’s hear how it happened from The Showman himself, who politely greeted us in his house in Hackney.
EASTSIDEBOXING: After being excluded from Prizefighter, you were considering retiring from boxing, then, out of the blue, you appear on Small-Webb under card and next you are headlining Night of The Rising Stars at York Hall on the 24th of April. How did that happen?
YASSINE EL MAACHI: My manager John Ingle hooked me with Hatton promotions for a fight with African champion Lusambya, who pulled out to be replaced by Thomas Grublys. I sold 120 unreserved tickets and 24 ringside, more than some of Hatton’s fighters. Still, when I entered the ring people were still queuing to get inside and the bout was not televised. Perfect example of the treatment I usually get. Then, Goodwin, who saw me on TV, approached me and offered me a deal for a minimum of 6 guaranteed fights. Best deal I ever got.
ESB: Was Goodwin himself to select your first opponent?
Y E M: No. Aloa stepped forward on his own initiative after reading of the £15000 prize on some website on internet. No one in the UK answered the call.
ESB: Because of the circumstances around your career, it’s doubtful that you ever entered a ring with a game plan. Is it going to be different this time?
Y E M: Well, I had 8 full weeks to prepare, which is something new, and my trainer has studied Aloa. We do have a plan, but to be honest I don’t know much about this guy, except that he has never being stopped, not even by Affif Belghecham, who gave Darren Barker a good run for his money last week at Alexandra Palace. And that’s my aim for the fight: to be the first one to stop him.
ESB: You never boxed beyond 8 rounds before and this is scheduled for 10. Did you have to make adjustments to your training routine?
Y E M: No. I always train to go 12 rounds.
ESB: The International Masters title is not one of the biggest prizes in the sport. What do you think this fight is going to do for you career wise?
Y E M: It’s a starting point. It’s going to get me ranked, and then I want to make my way to the European title. I think Ryan Rhodes is the best in my division in this country and I want to fight the best. That’s what boxing is about.
ESB: Your rivalry with Anthony Small is well documented. Are you not interested in fight him now that he lost the British belt?
Y E M: I was only interested in his title. All the things I said where meant to get him in the ring. Beside that, I don’t have anything bad to say about him. Hopefully, the next fight after this, already scheduled for the 19th of June at York Hall, will be for some intercontinental belt, either IBF or WBO.
ESB: With respect, you are 30 years old now, which is considered an advanced age in boxing terms, and your career so far has been a struggle uphill. What gives you the motivation to keep going?
Y E M: I have been boxing since I was 6 years old and from day one I wanted to get on top. I invested everything into it. You take boxing away and I got nothing. I got no choice but going on. Steve Goodwin gave me a chance that re-energized me. I am willing to go to the bottom of this. Come Saturday 24th and you will see.
Indeed, we are looking forward to see if El Maachi can live up to his own expectations. Also announced on the same bill: George Hillyard, looking to bounce back from his quarter final loss at Prizefighter, unbeaten and emerging Cruiser Weight Tony Quest, willing to climb further in the domestic ranks, former English Super Feather Champion Ryan Barrett, stepping up to Lightweight, and many many others.
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