By Jordan Ellis @JordanEllisUK
A legend of British boxing headed to Liverpool last weekend. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to fight those days are long gone. Joe Calzaghe charmed the packed event as he spun tales of his illustrious career, met fans, answered their questions, posed for pictures and raffled memorabilia.
Before social media and boxing video reporters most fighters would generally be a complete mystery to fight fans. Besides pre and post-fight interviews we wouldn’t hear a lot from them and certainly wouldn’t get the chance to know them.
Joe Calzaghe was one of the last of that era, retiring in 2008 at the top of his game with a perfect record 46-0. After conquering America and securing his place in British and world boxing history Calzaghe decided to call it a day prematurely in many people’s eyes but he explained. “I was injured all the time, motivation started to go, and I’d been boxing 27 years.”
From leisure centers to Madison Square Garden
A young lad from the Welsh valleys who become one of the biggest stars in Boxing, it was a shock to find Boxing didn’t come naturally to Joe Calzaghe. He told the Liverpool crowd he lost 5 of his first 20 bouts, one rather controversially as his opponent’s dad was one of the judges. Calzaghe was overlooked for the Olympics despite enjoying a successful amateur career spanning 120 fights. The real success began when his Dad Enzo took the reigns as head trainer.
The mere mention of Enzo Calzaghe brought the nights biggest ovation. The brilliant trainer passed away last year but Joe speaks about him with such pride that you would think he was unbeatable with his father by his side. The truth is he actually was. “I’ve never lost with my father in my corner. From 17 years of age to 37. 20 years unbeaten.” Now Enzo has passed Joe is determined to keep the Newbridge Boxing Club going. “Its what dad would have wanted.”
Through the 20-year untouchable alliance the father, son duo enjoyed a great rise to the pinnacle of the sport that brought us some of the biggest nights in British boxing history. Calzaghe discussed his biggest nights with glee as lucky fans enjoyed the fine details of Calzaghes career.
A first shot at the world title proved tougher than expected after Chris Eubank stepped in on late notice to replace the retiring Steve Collins.
“I thought I would knock him out in 60 seconds. Chris told me he’ll take me to the trenches and he did. After 6/7 rounds I had nothing left but the desire to win carried me through. I thanked him, and I still do for giving me my toughest fight.
The fight Calzaghe believes defined his career and pushed him to the next level. He refers back to Lacy with pride on several occasions as he felt written off prior to the fight.
“The only reason he fought me is because he thought he would knock me out. So, did the boxing media…Two weeks before a hand injury nearly pulled me out, but my dad convinced me to fight on. He told me you’ll beat this guy with one hand. This guy throws one punch and moves six times. You throw six and move once. This fight is made for you. He was right.”
The fight which allowed him to finish a chapter in his career as he picked up all the belts against a true Super-Middleweight great.
“I fought him 39-0, undefeated. Probably my toughest fight. I had achieved 10 years as champion, to win all the belts was amazing.
The white boy from Wales beat Bernard Hopkins in his own back yard after some intense buildup which Calzaghe looks back on with a smirk on his face.
“I wanted two things. To be unified champ and to fight in the states. I got dropped in the first round, but I think I outfought him in the second half and got the split decision”
Roy Jones Jnr
Calzaghe would finish his career fighting one of the best fighters of all time. A moment he looks back on with joyfully as he considers how far the journey had took him.
“From little shitty places to finishing my career at MSG where so many great fighters have fought and winning! I knew before the fight this was my last one. I dropped my hands because I knew that was my last fight. I just wanted to enjoy it. I didn’t enjoy the first-round mind you.”
The One That Got Away
A big talking point of the night was expectably the fight that passed us all by. The Joe Calzaghe vs Carl Froch fight never materialized with Calzaghe chasing bigger fish as his young rival climbed the ranks.
This is why events like these are important. Joe Calzaghe is retired and away from the limelight rarely having a platform to talk about these things. Whilst Carl Froch is still popping up on the box all too often. Without this event we wouldn’t know Calzaghe thinks Froch is a “prick” although we could have guessed.
During the nights Q&A section Calzaghe fielded a whole host of Froch related questions. He didn’t take kindly to Froch’s reaction to the retirement of his peers George Groves and James DeGale. “What can I say the guys a prick. He got his arse kicked by Andre Ward who came out and was respectful.
A potential fight was discussed and while Calzaghe recognized Froch’s abilities he confidently predicted. “A big points win or late stoppage. The guys tough but slow. He had the chance to fight me and turned it down.”
You can hear the fire still burns in Joe Calzaghe but after more than a decade retired he seems happy and content which is great to see. The pride on which he looks back on his career is joyful and his passion when discussing his fights amazing.
A truly rare event hosted by Tony Murrell who continues to bring boxing stars to the North West. Another Super-Middleweight is next up as George Groves will head to Cheshire to discuss his action-packed career –