Following a hugely successful amateur career where Calzaghe
reportedly won 110 of 120 bouts and also won ABA titles at 3 different weights he began his pro
career in an equally impressive manner with 13 straight wins
seeing him going the distance just once, with 12 stoppages to
his record - 10 stoppages within 2 rounds, the other two lasting
just 4 rounds.
fourteenth bout Calzaghe contested the vacant British
super-middleweight title with Stephen Wilson lasting
longer than all but one of Joe's previous opponents yet still
not making it to the final bell as the Newbridge fighter took
the title with an eighth round stoppage.
Two fights followed, lasting a
total of 3 rounds, before the champion defended his title
against Londoner, Mark Delaney. The opening round saw Delaney
visit the canvas twice. In a fiercely contested bout both boxers
sought to take charge but ultimately it was Calzaghe's harder
punching that would be the deciding factor when in the fifth he
put Delaney down again for a count of eight. Upon regaining his
feet the Londoner was met with a flurry of punches that prompted
the referee to step in and halt the fight.
Five fights later - none
lasting more than 3 rounds - Calzaghe took a huge step up in
class when, in 1997, he contested the vacant WBO world
super-middle title against the vastly experienced, tough,
hard-hitting, eccentric fighter that was Chris Eubank. In a
scintillating fight that went the full 12 rounds both fighters
had their successes with Calzaghe putting Eubank down in the
first and tenth rounds before running out the unanimous points
winner by scores of 116-111, 118-110 and 118-109. Joe Calzaghe
had secured the first of what was to become multiple world
Calzaghe defended the WBO
title 21 times and held it for 10 years before relinquishing the
title in 2007.
Twelve challengers were defeated over the next six years, some tougher fights
than others. Some known names, others not so well known. By now
the American media had taken notice of Calzaghe but dismissed
him as a holder of a 'lesser' title who had faced no contenders
of note and far from being a renowned puncher was regarded as
nothing more than a 'slapper'. Oh, the irony. American
Byron Mitchell, a tough, heavy-handed former two-time holder of
the WBA world super-middleweight title, was brought over to
Cardiff to provide the Welshman with a stern test of his
credentials. In an action-packed fight, that lasted all of 2
rounds, Calzaghe was put on the canvas for the first time in his
career. This proved to be the American's undoing. On rising
Calzaghe was met by Mitchell coming in for the finish, whereupon
the champion unleashed a flurry of punches and returned the
compliment by knocking Mitchell off his feet. Mitchell rose at
8, but despite trying valiantly to fight back, was met with a
torrent of punches coming in from all angles forcing the referee
to stop the fight in the second.
The next two years saw four
challengers safely dispensed of (2 inside the distance) before,
in March 2006, the reigning IBF world champion from America,
Jeff Lacy, came over to the MEN Arena, in Manchester, to put his
title on the line and attempt to snatch the WBO title away from
the 'over-hyped slapper'. The American media still dismissed
Calzaghe as before, even though he had now held his title for
nine years and had 17 defences under his belt.
It was widely
reported in the States that the undefeated Lacy would dispose of
Calzaghe with ease and even the British bookmakers had installed
the American as favourite. The IBF champion, himself a big-hitter,
was regarded as a far more accomplished boxer than the Newbridge
man. Not so. The fight was one-way
traffic for twelve rounds.................. with Lacy taking a terrific beating.
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com
reported the fight as:
There are barely words to describe Calzaghe's absolute
and thorough domination of Lacy. It was that awesome.
Calzaghe fought a sublime
masterpiece in a bout that beforehand he called the
defining fight of his career. He sure picked a great
time for the best performance of his life, one that
surely will see him crash the pound-for-pound rankings
he has so desperately wanted to be a part of. This was
as impressive as Bernard Hopkins over Felix Trinidad,
Floyd Mayweather over Diego Corrales and then some.
Simply put, Calzaghe fought the perfect fight in making
his 18th title defense and adding Lacy's world title to
It was one of the most anticipated fights of the year
but Calzaghe turned it into a wipe-out from the outset.
He never gave Lacy a chance to breathe, swarming him
with an assortment of hard punches with both hands.
While Lacy threw wide shots one at a time, Calzaghe, who
had a point deducted for a ticky-tack
hitting-behind-the-back foul in the 11th round, was
putting together ridiculous 12- and 14-punch
combinations with breathtaking accuracy.
He cut Lacy
over both eyes and caused blood to flow from Lacy's nose
midway through the fight, which could have been stopped
several different times due to Calzaghe's incessant
punches. Lacy showed tremendous heart and a great chin,
but finally was knocked down for the first time in his
career in the 12th. That was just the cherry on top of
Calzaghe's greatest night. As for Lacy, he needs a long
rest after taking such brutal punishment. He might never
be the same.
The point deducted for the
'ticky-tack' punch was the only point that Calzaghe lost in an
unanimous, overwhelming victory scored
119-105, 119-107, 119-107. Finally, the Americans, and any
other doubters, recognised the Welshman as the formidable
fighter that he was.
space of a year two more defences followed, Saiko Bika beaten by
points and Peter Manfredo Jr. stopped in 3, before another huge
challenge presented itself in the form of Mikkel Kessler, the
WBC & WBA world champion. The number one and number two
fighters of the division faced off with undefeated records of 43
for Calzaghe; 39 for Kessler. The fight didn't disappoint
as the two champions slugged it out over the full distance. In
an intriguing contest the Welsh fighter ultimately emerged
117-111, 116-112, 116-112 on the scorecards to claim all 3
(Calzaghe had relinquished the IBF
Having held 4
versions of the super-middleweight titles, proven his supremacy
of the division and with a claim to be one of the best
pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Calzaghe set out to
ensure his lasting legacy by taking on two of the modern greats;
middleweight champ, Bernard Hopkins - who had ruled the
middleweight division for 10 years before losing the title on a
split points decision and
who had now moved up to light-heavyweight.
with a deserved reputation as one of the most skilful fighters
of the day, was a master of defence who had a knack of
nullifying his opponents strengths before taking control of a
fight and usually ending the bout victorious. It was the
Welshman's first fight in America, at a new weight and against a
Over 12 rounds
Hopkins tried every trick he knew to thwart Calzaghe but the
Pride of Wales ran out the winner, as the BBC reported:
recovered from a first-round knockdown to claim a
contentious split decision victory over Bernard Hopkins
in Las Vegas. The Welshman, 36, was floored by a huge
right hand in the opening exchanges and struggled to
find his range early on. Hopkins, continued to have
success with his right, but Calzaghe outworked him in
the latter half of the fight.
scored it 114-113 to Hopkins, but the two other judges
saw Calzaghe winning by wide margins of 115-112 and
Calzaghe said: "It was one
of the toughest fights of my career. "He is very clever.
He was so awkward. It wasn't pretty, but I won the
fight. "It wasn't my best night, but I know I won. I'm a
legend killer - I just finished B-Hop, maybe Roy Jones
............and Roy Jones was
at light-heavyweight, the bout was billed as a 'Battle of the
Superpowers' with Joe stating that this could be his last fight.
Roy Jones Jr. was a fighter who had won multiple world titles at
three different weights and was widely acknowledged as being THE
best pound-for-pound fighter in the world for a number of years.
However, arguably past his prime at this stage of his career,
with a pedigree such as his Roy Jones Jr. was still a force to
be reckoned with.
Boxrec recalled the
Calzaghe down toward the end of the
first round with a straight left to
the nose followed by a slap with his
right hand across Calzaghe’s face.
“I was stunned,” Calzaghe said. “He
hit me with a good shot. That’s what
a champion’s all about. When I fall,
I come back stronger.”
The men came
out in playful moods to start the
fight. After the first round ended,
Jones stood at attention in the
middle of the ring and stared down
Calzaghe. In the second round, after
he landed a straight right hand,
Jones stepped back, turned to the
crowd and stuck out his tongue.
seemed to find his rhythm in the
third round, as he unleashed fast
combinations and had Jones backing
up into the ropes. Calzaghe stepped
back several times, daring Jones to
come forward, and Jones urged
Calzaghe to “come on.” At the end of
the round, Calzaghe wiggled his hips
and did a tap dance.
The round set
the tone for the dominating
onslaught Calzaghe brought to the
rest of the fight. One scene seemed
to replay itself throughout the
fight: Calzaghe throwing swift,
short punches as Jones stumbled back
with his hands up.
very ugly for Jones in the middle of
the fight when a large cut opened
over his left eye. Blood trickled
all the way down his body. Jones
fought the second half of the fight
with his left eye closed.
that he entered this fight
rejuvenated and in the best shape he
has been in years. Calzaghe proved
This was only
Calzaghe’s second fight in the
United States. His first was a
split-decision victory over Hopkins
two legends this year — in Hopkins,
and an even bigger legend in Roy
Jones.” Calzaghe said. “And I’ve
fought them both in the States. I
think I’ve shown everybody I don’t
just fight at home.”
months later, on February 5th, 2009 Joe Calzaghe did indeed call
an end to his illustrious career, saying 'It
was a difficult decision but I have achieved everything I wanted
to achieve in boxing, I've been world champion for 11 years.
I've got no other goals to go for. That's why I am calling it a
A rare feat
for a professional boxer, particularly at world championship
level, Joe Calzaghe retired undefeated - whilst also proving
himself to be among the greats of Welsh boxing.