Boxing


Sharkie’s Machine: Champion Calzaghe By TKO 3 Over Contender Manfredo

joe calzaghe By Frank Gonzalez Jr. Saturday at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff Wales, in front of a huge crowd of 35,000, WBO Super Middleweight Champion, Joe Calzaghe (43-0, 32 KO’s) made his 20th successful title defense over journeying American, Peter Manfredo Jr. (26-4, 12 KO’s)

Fluidity, agility, excellent timing and impressive speed make Calzaghe one of the most impressive boxing fighters on the planet.

Manfredo has done well in capitalizing on his newfound fame resulting from his participation in the television “reality” series, “The Contender,” where he made it to the Contender Championship fight and built a good fan base with his ‘blue collar’ approach to the sweet science.

In the first round, there was some feeling out for a few moments but it was Calzaghe who had the upper hand in landing punches and controlling the tempo of the action. Manfredo could barely land a punch. He tried to get inside and wait for Calzaghe to finish punching but Calzaghe never finished punching until he managed to step out of Manfredo’s range. 10-9 Calzaghe.

In round two, Calzaghe moved in and out, jabbing and landing combinations at will. Manfredo couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm and hardly landed anything. When he got close to landing, Joe wrapped him up and forced him to reset. This round was best called, the Poker and the Poked. 10-9 Calzaghe.

joe calzagheIn the third round, Calzaghe started fast and overwhelmed Manfredo, who could only block. Calzaghe was peppering the hell out of Manfredo, who spent most of the round covering up while Calzaghe punched continuously and was far too fast and too smart for Manfredo. It was clearly a mismatch and Calzaghe was having it all his way. At one point, Calzaghe had Manfredo up against the ropes and was punching non-stop. Manfredo wasn’t throwing anything back but he didn’t look hurt so much as outmatched. The referee, Terry O’Connor stepped between them and ended the fight.

* * *

I thought the stoppage was terribly premature but there was nothing to indicate that Manfredo had a sliver of a chance to even be competitive. But it was a “Championship” fight and it was only the third round. As unlikely it was that Manfredo would’ve fared any better, the stoppage took away any chances he might’ve had. Maybe this was best for Manfredo, because now he can go back home and though he lost, at least know he didn’t quit against the main man in the boxing division.

During the post fight interview, Manfredo said the stoppage was definitely premature. He said he wasn’t hurt and that he was just waiting for Calzaghe to stop punching so he could start. He said Calzaghe was landing a lot of pity-pat punches. When asked about Calzaghe’s prospects against Kessler, Bernard Hopkins or Jermain Taylor, he said that any of those guys could beat Calzaghe. I agree that the stoppage was a bad one but I doubt Hopkins, Kessler or Taylor can beat Calzaghe, who is amazingly athletic and skillful at 35 years old. But we’ll never know until they fight.

joe calzagheCalzaghe was gracious as ever during his interview, crediting Manfredo with becoming a Star from his “Contender” experience and to a degree, defending Manfredo as a credible opponent. It was a tough sell. He spoke of fighting Hopkins or Taylor but when asked about fighting Kessler, turned the microphone over to his promoter, Frank Warren, who said Kessler’s camp rejected an offer recently, etc, etc. Calzaghe offered that Kessler is the next Jeff Lacy, who many said would come and kick his ass, but in the end was exposed. Joe said he’d expose Kessler just the same.

In many minds, Joe Calzaghe is the best in the Super Middleweight division. IF he defeats unbeaten WBA, WBC Champion, Mikkel Kessler, it would be closer to a fact.

Mikkel Kessler is undefeated at 39-0, 29 KO’s. Calzaghe is 43-0, with 32 KO’s. What the hell are they waiting for? The structural problems with this sport need emergency address. If you have been following the 168-pound division, you know these two guys are the most logical match-up but somehow, money and politics seem bent on preventing this fight from materializing.

Kessler is a very crafty fighter with an even less impressive resume than Calzaghe has but what he does have—is two of the major title belts in his possession. If Calzaghe beat him, he’d have three of the four pieces of the title and then, watch out—we’d be close to having one unified Champion in this sport of ours! It could go either way though and if Kessler were to
win, he’d have three pieces. Which of the two would be quicker to go after the IBF boxing title and claim the true title of Champion?

Congratulations to Joe Calzaghe. His speed is his power. He has excellent agility and boxing prowess. He reminds me of a real life version of Errol Flynn, who played the boxer in the movie, “Gentleman Jim.”

The ring is the source of truth in boxing. Peter Manfredo Jr. is simply not ready to win a major title yet. At 26-years-old, he still has time to develop and possibly have a respectable boxing career. Though he didn’t do well against Calzaghe, he has added some critical experience to his resume. Hopefully it pays off in the future. Manfredo’s next fight should be against someone on his own level, like maybe Jeff Lacy (22-1), Sam Soliman (33-9) or Librado Andrade (24-1) or Sakio Bika (22-2). Maybe those guys could fight each other and whoever stands out gets a shot at a number one contender.

* * *

Comments can be emailed to dshark87@hotmail.com

Article posted on 10.04.2007



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