By Elliot Worsell HAVING waited two decades for it, Emiliano Marsili would have been forgiven for fearing his first defeat as a professional would be a far more decisive and damaging experience. The older he got, after all, the more the likelihood of this scenario increased and the younger the opponents naturally became, which, for obvious reasons, only added to any sense of foreboding. It was perhaps a surprise, then, that Marsili’s first defeat as a pro – and maybe, should he now retire, his only one – arrived very much on his terms, with him sitting on a stool between rounds eight and nine. In control, both of the fight and his own destiny, Marsili signalled his inability to continue against Gavin Gwynne on Friday night (December 1) and duly accepted his fate, grateful at least that the choice was his and that, unlike most ageing boxers, he had not been disconnected from his senses or discovered on the night that his legs, faculties, and punch resistance had betrayed him in one fell swoop. Instead, at the ripe old age of 47 he was let down not by his brain or technique but rather his body, which, of all the inevitabilities in boxing, was one Marsili, 20 years after turning pro, fully expected.
“I don’t feel good about the first defeat, but I didn’t feel like I lost the fight in the ring,” the former European lightweight champion told Boxing News upon his return to Italy. “Only an injury stopped me. I was winning the fight. “The (injured) shoulder is getting much better now, but I felt it during the fight after the fourth round. I think I was doing good and I think I was ahead, but that was only my sensation in the ring at the time. You never know for sure with the scorecards. But I felt good during the fight. It is normal to worry about the judges when you fight abroad and that is why I try to finish with a knockout or stoppage to prevent the fight going to the scorecards. When you fight abroad it is always more difficult.”
Twice now Marsili has boxed abroad – that is, outside his native Italy – and twice he has emerged with his reputation enhanced on account of impressive performances in the role of underdog. Just last year, he went to Liverpool to stop Derry Mathews inside seven rounds. This time he rocked Gwynne early with a left hand and then proceeded to show an ease of movement which belied his age and suggested there was still plenty to give, both physically and mentally.
If lucky enough to have no complaints, the same, alas, cannot be said for regrets. Specifically, what appears to irk Marsili more than anything, and what was maybe driving him to continue boxing deep into his forties, is the fact that despite reigning in Europe for so long he never managed to secure a shot at a version of a world title. This, given the sheer quantity of them available, will forever be a bugbear for the otherwise content native of Civitavecchia.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t see any sense in Marsili taking this (Gwynne) fight, because he was already a two-time European champion, and there was nothing to gain,” added Cherchi. “It was not a big-money fight or whatever. But after the fight I can say that this fight gave him more credit than all the other fights for the European title. The only one that compares is (Luca) Giacon (in 2012) because Giacon was the new big prospect in Italy at the time and he didn’t go anywhere because of Marsili. He also went to Liverpool and won against Mathews but unfortunately he didn’t get to fight for the world title. It was supposed to happen in 2016 against Zlaticanin at Madison Square Garden but he had to pull out the week before because he had the flu. It was a pity because he could have won. He never got another opportunity for a world title after that.”Gavin Gwynne and Emiliano Marsili pose ahead of their fight (Getty Images) To put Marsili’s achievement in context, the southpaw, while never mixing with the very best, has managed to stay unbeaten for over 20 years and through 44 professional fights. For even more context, consider this: Sven Ottke went unbeaten for seven years, Rocky Marciano for eight, Andre Ward for 13, Joe Calzaghe for 15, Ricardo López for 16, and active undefeated boxers Terence Crawford and Tyson Fury have both so far avoided being beaten for a total of 15 years. Meanwhile, if you discount the Conor McGregor farce, Floyd Mayweather managed 19. “I turned professional quite late at 27 and at the time my goal was to become Italian champion and nothing more,” said Marsili. “I am very happy to have achieved more but I must always keep…