News October 2017

UK's Answer to Rocky says "I'm not done yet" after explosive title victory


By Michael J Jones

BOXING OCCASIONALLY produces a thrill-a-minute fighter’s fighter. In world boxing in recent years we’ve had legendary sluggers such as the late Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward and Kelly Pavlik. Boxers who refused to play safe and put there substantial hearts’ on the line time-and-time again to roar and delight of the watching crowd.

In UK boxing circles a man who has repeatedly featured in fight-of-the year candidates over many years is Peterborough’s Cello “Dangerous” Renda. The 32 year old turned pro thirteen years ago with a blistering knock-out over a more-experienced, not to mention, far heavier opponent and the highs and lows have come thick and fast ever since.

Now 29-12-2 (13) the rangy super-middleweight is coming off arguably his finest victory to date in winning the Southern Area title against Leon McKenzie at York Hall.

Livefight wasn’t able to locate any footage of the fight, but we have heard via several sources that the crossroads battle was another pulsating affair before real-life Rocky Renda prevailed by KO.

McKenzie, a former pro footballer (who ironically at one time played for Peterborough Utd), was 8-1-1 entering the bout and got the better of the early rounds but eventually faded as Renda roared back to knock him out in round nine.

Speaking to Livefight a few days ago, Renda was evidently still buzzing from his heroics of last month and has promised his best could still be yet to come as he targets British title honours in the New year.

“I was absolutely made up to beat Leon McKenzie; especially after my last Southern Area title shot last December ended in a decision which many believed I had won (against then-unbeaten Alan Higgins). I can see how people could have had McKenzie ahead but I thought I was just a point down going into the ninth.”

“He was a lot tougher than I thought he’d be. In age he was 39 but in boxing terms having had just ten fights, he was far better than I had anticipated. He didn’t have the hardest punch, not the kind to stop you in your tracks but he had decent power and he hurt me a bit in the third when I was still cold and he caught me on the ropes.”

“I knew I’d have to win big being the away fighter and, even if I hadn’t have stopped him, I feel I would have definitely won rounds nine and ten to take the decision.”
“He was tough though I’ve still got sore ribs now from the fight!”

With the contest in the balance, Renda had a big eighth round which set up the finale in the penultimate session.

“I knew he was tiring and Jon Pegg (Renda’s trainer), said to me to ‘keep tight and not get ragged’. McKenzie was a southpaw and I kept throwing the left uppercut and straight right. I landed the straight right in the ninth and his legs buckled so I threw everything at him until it was over.”

As Renda celebrated the 29th victory of his pro career, McKenzie immediately announced his retirement from boxing. For the winner, there seems to be multiple opportunities on the horizon though Marcello is adamant he will not settle for anything but big fights for his immediate future.

“It’s been my dream all along to fight for the British title” the 32 year old tells Livefight. “I don’t just want to fight for the British I want to win it. I’ve boxed world title challengers, British champions, prospects and everyone. If you look at my resume and who I’ve fought, not many can compare so I’ve definitely earned my shot.”

A quick look at the current British super-middleweight ratings seas a wealth of talent though closer inspection reveals few men are actually in a realistic position to challenge for the British title as Renda is quick to reiterate.

“I’m about sixteenth which is fair enough but the top four (Callum Smith, George Groves, Chris Eubank Jr and Jamie Cox*), are in the ‘Super Six tournament’ so you can write them off straight away. Rocky Fielding, the current champion, I expect to vacate and fight for the European crown. Luke Blackledge is moving down to middleweight and Zach Parker has only had fourteen fights so he’ll probably want to gain more experience before challenging for the British.”

*Groves beat Cox on Saturday, this interview took place a few days previous.

“Darryll Williams is the English champion I’d face him no problem and John Ryder is still around that’s an option me and him for the vacant title. I’ll literally face anyone. If Fielding decides to stay as British champion I’d happily fight him but it’s all up to the board we’ll see what they decide.”

Renda has for much of his thirteen-year career been a real danger man of boxing but one thing he’s always struggled with is consistency as boxing politics and his over-eagerness to brawl have seen a few defeats occur at times when he was in previously good form.

For example, after hanging tough with Martin Murray in the final of Prizefighter back in 2008 and going on to knock out 13-0 Sam Horton in Manchester, the Peterborough puncher would suffer a pair of back-to-back defeats to Welsh veteran Paul Samuels (albeit in barn-stormers) in the latter stages of 2009.

A few years later Renda was on a four-bout winning streak when shockingly stopped in the first by supposed non-puncher Danny Butler. On form, Renda is fast of hand and carries power in either fist; especially in the early rounds. The tough Renda has a huge heart and deserves massive respect for continuing to thrive and find success despite all the set-backs and frustrations along the way.

“I am amazed to still be around now and everyone tells me, especially Jon Pegg, I should be very happy for the career I’ve had and what I’ve achieved and I think I’ve earned a lot of respect for doing things the way I’ve done. Nobody can ever say I’ve had it easy and I think it’s the best way of earning respect is taking the toughest fights available.”

“My last contest has taught me there’s still a lot left and, at 32, I’m still at my peak. I want my British title shot and I’m not going anywhere until I get one.”

“People don’t realise but when I’m doing a job on these kids it’s nearly always on a few weeks’ notice. With a full eight-week camp I seriously could give any fighter out there a hard night. Often in my career I win the fights I’m meant to lose and lose the fights I’m meant to win!”

I ask the crowd-pleaser about some of the highlights (and lows), of his roller-coaster career and he’s happy to talk me through them starting with the incredible three-round war with Murray nine years ago. Renda was floored in a torrid opener but came back to hurt Murray, then 11-0, several times before dropping the spoils by the narrowest of margins.

“Many people thought I’d won that and I honestly think since (our fight) only Gennedy Golovkin has hurt him more than I did” reasons Cello. “I think it should have been a draw really and I also think if it’s like that there should be another round to see clearly who the better man is.”

“Paul Samuels was one of the hardest punchers I ever faced and I just had the wrong mind-set. I only had four weeks’ notice for the first fight and was also having managerial problems but it’s no excuse I just fought the wrong fight.”

“It was exciting though and nobody will ever forget the double knock-down (when both landed simultaneous left hooks). The rematch I thought I won but the defeats ended up being a blessing in disguise as I might have stayed with my manager if I had won and in the end signed with Jon Pegg and been happy ever since.”

What about the Danny Butler upset loss a few years later?

“I was super confident going in, I made the weight wrong but otherwise camp had been good. He just caught me cold early with a shot on the top of the head. The same nearly happened with McKenzie where he made me stumble with a jab. I need to get hit usually to warm me up but Butler caught me and I lost my legs and that was that.”

Since the Butler fight, Renda has continued to operate in high quality contests. He made his second Prizefighter final two-and-a half years ago but, after blasting out Liam Conroy and out-scoring future British champion Jack Arnfield, he was himself stopped by Welshman Tom Doran.

Since then he has only lost that debatable decision to Higgins and, as said, looked better than ever in stopping McKenzie last time out.

“I’ve had things to deal with my whole career. My very first fight against Mark Ellwood, he was 30 I was 19, he’d won all seven fights, it was my debut. He was also a stone (14lbs) heavier than me. The board tried to scrap the fight but it went ahead and I knocked him out in two rounds.”

“The McKenzie fight I only got at late notice because of a ticket deal we had. They called me on four weeks’ notice wanting me to fight on their show but I only got paid by the tickets I sold. Thank God my fans made the trip I could have only made just a few hundred quid for a title fight.”

“Can you imagine asking someone to mow your lawn for you and then telling him he’s got to pay me to be able to mow my lawn?!”

“I’d just like to thank my trainers, all the people who support me and come to watch me, my wife who is fantastic and supports me all the way, my new sponsor Chris Larrington, Boxing Futures (a charity Cello works for), and also Vic’s Boxing club in Peterborough.”

Renda’s spectacular KO of Sam Horton from 2009

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