Will Super Middleweight Tournament Produce Another Joe Calzaghe?
Ken Hissner (March 26, 2010) Doghouse Boxing  
When Muhammad Ali had his boxing license taken away in 1967 over a 3 year period there wasn’t any of his contenders big enough to fill the void. The idea was to have a tournament of the top 8 fighters to produce enough interest to eventually to replace the former champion. With names like Jimmy Ellis, Karl Mildenberger, Leotis Martin, Oscar Bonavena, Thad Spencer, Jerry Quarry and former champions Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell. The top prospect was “Smokin” Joe Frazier who chose to pass and fight Buster Mathis in 1968 to whom he lost to in the amateurs for something called the “NYSAC” title covering New York and Michigan, where Mathis was from. The WBA tournament took 8 months from August of 1967 to April of 1968 to complete. It would be 1970 before the winner, Ellis, defended his WBA title against Frazier.

What makes the Super Middleweight tournament even less effective is it only has 6 boxers and includes double elimination. Calzaghe’s was considered possibly the best pound for pound boxer at time of his retirement after his wins over Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, Jr. He had relinquishing the super middleweight title after holding the WBO title from 1997 to 2007 and winning the IBF and WBC along the way. In all he had 21 title defenses and posted a 46-0 record with 32 knockouts. The Pride of Wales of the Italian Dragon as he was called had no plans to overcome another Italian named Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record like so many did before him.

IBF champion Arthur Abraham of Germany is the big name in the tournament along with Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler who holds the Super WBA title as well as the UK’s Carl Froch holding the WBC title. They would be pitted with 3 US challengers in former champion Jermaine Taylor and Olympic medalists and unbeaten fighters Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell. Abraham defeated Taylor and will meet Dirrell who lost to Froch who will now meet Kessler. Ward upset Kessler for his Super WBA title and was to meet Taylor who pulled out and was replaced by Allan Green until Ward got hurt. Confused?

What will it take for Calzaghe to come back? He just keeps making the headlines in all the wrong places. Boredom has set in. He has been off for 17 months and just celebrated his 38th birthday on March 23rd. What 168 or 175 boxer would be favored over the former unbeaten king of the 168’s? Heavyweight champion Joe Louis held his title for 9 years not counting his time in the US Army. He made 25 title defenses in one division compared to the 28 by Julio Cesar Chavez in several divisions. Calzaghe’s 21 have him 5th on the all time list. His last 2 defenses were in the US. He seemed to have little interest in fighting Froch or Clint Wood, who had held a portion of the 175 title. Both boxers are from the UK. Former Olympian Zsolt Erdei of Hungary was unbeaten and held the WBO 175 title until recently to move up to cruiser would have been another possible foe for Calzaghe.

His defeats of Hopkins and Jones put an explanation point to his career. Hopkins statement “no white boy is going to beat me” and then gets slapped around like he did was a major achievement. Jones is also known for his arrogance but not like Hopkins. Winning a 175 title would have not been a problem for Calzaghe but he never seemed to have the same interest as in defending his WBO title at 168. The IBF title he won in defeating Jeff Lacy was only defended once. The WBC title he won in defeating Kessler was never defended.

Calzaghe was only knocked down 3 times in his career. The first was in 2003 in his 36th fight against American Byron Mitchell in the 2nd round. Calzaghe got up and stopped Mitchell in the same round. In 2008 Calzaghe came off the canvas in the 1st round in both the Hopkins and Jones fights to post wins. If Froch somehow wins this tournament you just may see the wheels in Calzaghe’s mind start to turn thinking “the best 168 fighter in the world is from the UK and it’s not me?” He has had half of his 46 fights in England with one each in Scotland, Denmark and Germany. The last 2 were in the US and he had 18 fights in Wales.

Calzaghe has stated he doesn’t want to risk what he has accomplished (unbeaten) in the past. The boxing world has never given Calzaghe his just due’s when talking about pound for pound the best especially in the US even though he beat 2 icon’s here finishing out his career. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s ability will always get overblown and with the now best pound for pound Manny Pacquiao talking retirement the door is still open for Calzaghe’s return!

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