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Has Joe Calzaghe Received His Just Dues?
By Ken Hissner, Dog House Boxing (Feb 28, 2016)

Joe Calzaghe
When Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe was inducted into the IBHOF in 2015 I did an article stating “Joe Calzaghe Should Not be Overshadowed by Oscar “Golden Boy” De la Hoya and Felix “Tito” Trinidad.” After all he beat the man (Hopkins) who beat both Oscar and Felix. My web owner advised me that Joe’s father contacted him and said “this guy knows his boxing!” No smart remarks please!

In a recent well done article writer James Ingham did one on Calzaghe entitled “Joe Calzaghe: The ring left my body wrecked. He has had his hands broke so many times his hands are crippled. They ache every single day per Ingham’s article dated 29th November 2015. It was on the Daily Star in the UK. “I never wanted to be a celebrity. It was all about the boxing,” said Calzaghe.

At age 36 Calzaghe retired from the ring over a period of time of about 2 years after defeating former multi-division champion Roy Jones, Jr., 52-4, over 12 rounds at Madison Square Garden on November 8, 2008. It was only the second time he fought in the US while ending with a 46-0 (32) record and 21 successful title defenses of the WBO Super middleweight title over a 10 year period. The titles defenses were tied for seventh all time. At one time or the other during his career he won the WBO, IBF, WBC and IBF super middleweight titles. Few boxers since these organizations have made the world of boxing more confusing by people saying “the champ of what?”

Calzaghe, the 5:11 southpaw was trained by his father Enzo. “Joe has a heart second to none. The harder the fight the better he performs,” said Enzo. As anamateur he compiled a 110-10 record winning the ABA title in 1991 as a welterweight, 1992 as a light middleweight and 1993 as a middleweight. He would turn professional in October of 1993 defeating Paul Hanlon, 7-16, in the first round at the National Stadium, in Cardiff, Wales.It was his only scheduled four round bout. At the time he weighed 167 winning his first eight fights within 13 months all by stoppage! All but the last one were scheduled for six rounds with that one for eight rounds.

In February of 1995 Calzaghe knocked out Frank Minton, 26-21-1 in the first round. This was the first US boxer he met with 17 overall.In October of 1995 he won his first title, the British title stopping Stephen Wilson, 11-1. In May of 1996 he stopped Pat Lawlor, 21-8, who had wins over former world champions Wilfredo Benitez, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran and Rene Arrendondo. In June of 1997 in what would be an eliminator for a title shot Calzaghe stopped Luciano Torres, 45-2, of Brazil who was South American and WBF champion.

With the retirement of Steve Collins in July of 1997 in his 23rd fight Calzaghe won the vacant WBO super middleweight title defeating Chris “Simply the Best” Eubanks, 45-2-2, in October of 1997. Eubanks as middleweight champion had 3 defenses and as super middleweight champion had 14 defenses. In January of 1998 Calzaghe made his first of 21 title defenses stopping IBF Inter-Continental champion from Croatia BrankoSobot, 14-1. In his only other bout in 1998 he stopped Juan Carlos “El Toro” GimenezFerreyra, 51-8-3, of Paraguay.

In February of 1999 in a long awaited meeting Calzaghe won a split decision over Robin “Grim Reaper Reid, 26-1-1, the former WBC champion. In his only other defense in 1999 he defeated Rick “Gatton Tiger” Thornberry, 23-2, of Australia. In 2000 he made 3 defenses first defeating the British and Commonwealth champion David Starie, 22-1. Next up was Omar Shieka, 20-1 stopping him in 5 rounds. Finally at the end of the year he stopped Richie Woodhall, 26-1, the former WBC champion, putting him into retirement.

In 2001 Calzaghe stopped Germany’s Mario Veit, 30-0, in the first round.In his only other bout that year he fought outside of the UK for the first time stopping US boxer Will McIntyre, 29-2 in Denmark. In April of 2002 he defeated former IBF champion Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer, 37-8, of the US. “In the Calzaghe fight I told Charles this later that night this was a terrific slugfest but it was the only time I ever saw Charles really beaten in a fight. Calzaghe was the clear winner. I had it 8-4 on my card and Charles agreed,” said IBHOF promoter J. Russell Peltz. In August he defeated Miguel Angel Jimenez, 21-1, of the US, winning every round over 12. In his last defense in December he stopped TockerPudwill, 39-4, of the US.

In June of 2003 in his only fight that yearCalzaghe stopped former WBA champion Byron “Gator” Mitchell, 25-2-1. In 2004 he stopped Armenian Mger “Matador” Mkrtchyan, 18-1, the European champion fighting out of Russia. In October he defeated Egyptian Kabary Salem, 23-3, the interim WBO champion who was fighting out of the US. Calzaghe had to come off the canvas in the fourth round and dropped Salem in the twelfth and final round.

In May of 2005 Calzaghe decided to travel out of the country for only the second time giving a rematch in Germany to the German Mario Veit, 45-1, stopping him again this time in the sixth round. In September back in the UK he defeated the former WBA middleweight champion from Kenya Evans “African Warrior” Ashira, 24-1, fighting out of Denmark.

In March of 2006 in a unification bout Calzaghe defeated former US Olympian Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, 21-0, for his IBF title by a lopsided score. In October he would make his only IBF defense along with his WBO title defeating Cameroon’s Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika, 20-1-2, fighting out of Australia. He would relinquish his IBF title the following month for a more lucrative bout to stop US Peter “Pride of Providence” Manfredo, Jr., 26-3, in 3 rounds.

In November of 2007 in a major unification bout Calzaghe defeated WBA Super and WBC champion Mikkel Kessler, 39-0, of Denmark in his 21st and final defense. Scores were 117-111 and two at 116-112. This made Calzaghe the WBO, WBA Super and WBC champion and earlier the IBF champion which is very rare in boxing to have won all four of the organization titles.

In December of 2007 Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 48-4-1, called out Calzaghe and wanted the fight in New York. Four months later In 2008 it was decided to go to the US for the first time in April with former WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion along with the WBA super middleweight crown Hopkins. At the initial meeting when both fighters were face to face they shouted insults and taunting each other. Hopkins shouted “You are not even in my league. I would never let a white boy beat me. I would never lose to a white boy. If I did I couldn’t go back to the projects if I lost to a white boy,” said Hopkins. There was no love for eitherboxer toward one another.

Calzaghe would go on winning a split decision over 12 rounds in Las Vegas, NV, for Hopkins Ring Magazine light heavyweight belt.Both boxers came in at 173. There were over 14,000 fans attending of which half of them came over from the UK. Calzaghe was down in the first round. Hopkins at the time was 43 and would later win both the WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles. In the second round Hopkins complained about low blows to referee Joe Cortez. In the fourth round Cortez warned both fighters. Calzaghe for holding and Hopkins for hitting behind the head. In the tenth round Hopkins went to the canvas complaining about a low blow. He was given a 2 minute rest. Hopkins again complained about a low blow in the eleventh round but referee Cortez told him to continue fighting. Calzaghe came on late in the fight for the win.

The scores at the end were 116-111 by Chuck Giampa and 115-112 by Ted Gimza for Calzaghe while Adalaide Byrd scored it 114-113 for Hopkins. HBO judge Harold Lederman had it 116-111 for Calzaghe. It was the first time in 12 fights that Hopkins lost to a southpaw.

“I knew it would be a tough fight. He is so awkward. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty. It wasn’t my best fight but I felt I won,” said Calzaghe. Hopkins was upset by the decision. “I thought I won the fight rather easily. I took him to school and made him fight my fight,” said Hopkins.

In November of 2008 Calzaghe took on 39 year-old Roy Jones, Jr., 52-4, at Madison Square Garden in what would be his career ending fight. “I’ve watched Roy Jones, Jr. his entire career and have been a Roy Jones fan for a long time”, said Calzaghe. Jones was just about as complimentary. “Joe is an outstanding person and a great fighter,” said Jones. Calzaghe would go on winning a lopsided decision over 12 rounds. Calzaghe was down in the first round but went on winning next 11 rounds. Both fighters came in at 174 ½and Jones is still active at age 47.

This would be Calzaghe’s last fight after winning all of his 46 fights with 32 by stoppage. It took about 3 years for Calzaghe to announce his retirement which is why needing 5 years in retirement to be inducted into the IBHOF. He had two nicknames which were “Pride of Wales” and “Italian Dragon” and will be 44 in March.

For Calzaghe to remain at 168 from October of 1997 thru November of 2007 is amazing. He knew when it was time to stop. This writer always wondered if because he was 3 fights away from fellow Italian Rocky Marciano who was 49-0 had anything to do with him stopping when he did. Seems injuries over the 15 years as a professional and 120 amateur bouts finally took its toll. Calzaghe will go down as one of the greatest 168 pound boxers in that division if not the greatest!

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