Norwich’s Danny McIntosh has lost his European light-heavyweight crown in his first defence after he was bludgeoned to defeat in round eight by Germany’s Eduard Gutknecht in Neubrandenburg tonight. McIntosh, who captured the European title with a come-from-behind stoppage over Thierry Karl in Paris in January, looked set for another victory on away soil early on until the pendulum swung dramatically in Gutknecht’s favour after halfway.
McIntosh (12st 5lbs) was his usual relaxed self in the early exchanges but his lax defence offered encouragement to Guknecht (12st 6 ¾ lbs) from the outset. A left hook – right hand combination forced Danny to cover up against the ropes as the bell sounded to end the opening session. Guknecht, adopting a classically European style, looked unremarkable despite his impressive 20-1 (8) record (his only loss being to WBO super-middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz on points last year), but was strong and wasted little. In contrast, McIntosh constantly loaded up and was breathing heavily from the second round.
McIntosh’s plan was to let Guknecht plod forward and catch him coming in with right hands over the top before taking a sideways step to avoid any retaliation. It was working, to an extent, but the Norwich man was being made to fight for every second of every round which gradually took its toll. By round four McIntosh had sustained a cut to his right cheekbone and was also seeping blood from his nose as his face was noticeably starting to swell up. Whilst the champion did occasionally bounce right hands off the plodding Guknecht’s temple, the German challenger quickly shook off the effects and continued to crank up the pressure
A well-timed right from McIntosh succeeded in forcing Guknecht briefly backwards in round five which Danny shaded as the German dropped his workrate. It was to be McIntosh’s last notable success though as he suddenly began to unravel. A huge left hook bypassed the Noriwch fighter’s loose guard at the beginning of the sixth forcing him to almost touch down.
Guknecht was quick to pounce and a follow-up burst had the still shaken McIntosh reeling against the ropes and perilously close to being stopped. Danny may lack a defence but he certainly doesn’t lack bottle and he typically came back slugging and ended the pivotal round in the ascendency as Guknecht appeared to briefly punch himself out.
The exploits of the sixth took more out of McIntosh than Guknecht, however. Whilst round seven was understandably quieter, McIntosh’s grip on his European crown loosened again when he was deducted a point by Italian referee Giuseppe Quartarone for a blatant low blow. To compound matters, Danny returned to his stool at the end of the stanza with his right eye almost shut which reflected that Guknecht was now firmly in the driving seat.
”I’m going to give you one more round, Danny,” was the blunt assessment from trainer Dominic Ingle who appeared to be poised to pull McIntosh out in the minute’s interval. Few could have blamed the Norwich man for quitting but McIntosh is as game as they come.
As anticipated, he made a last-ditch attempt to cling onto his title by launching a volley of two-fisted attacks in round eight but Guknecht maintained a tight defence and allowed Danny’s final hurrah to subside. Now fighting on instinct with virtually one eye, McIntosh was rocked by a combination and this time he no longer had the reserves of energy to fight his way out of trouble. More fatigued than genuinely hurt, ‘Big Mac’ was eventually rescued by referee Quartarone midway through round eight as he appeared on the verge of going down.
Earlier in the evening, Sheffield heavyweight Carl ‘The Fridge’ Baker returned from a 14-month absence only to be promptly dispatched inside 90 seconds by unbeaten German prospect, Edmund Gerber. Big Carl, who was previously stopped in two rounds by Dereck Chisora, was as usual woefully out of shape and offered only a pawing jab as a tame offence.
Undeterred, Gerber had all the time in the world to line-up a big right hand which dumped Baker on his backside against the ropes. ‘The Fridge’ rose gingerly and on unsteady legs at ‘eight’ and was promptly led back to his corner by experienced official Daniel van de Wiele. Gerber, who in addition to Baker has defeated Paul Butlin, Colin Kenna and Lee Swaby in his last four contests, advances to 15-0 (10). Baker, who looked totally disinterested, is now 9-6 and needs to do some soul searching.