Boxing


Why history will look kindly upon Joe Calzaghe

17.11.08 - By Jason Shearer: So has the pale skinned fighter from the Land of Song finally silenced all his critics with his recent dominance of Roy Jones Junior? Ė almost certainly not. Boxing scribes, so called experts and laymen alike are fond of honesty and telling it like it is. For the sweet science is pretty much the most honest sport of all, as well as being the hardest..

Joe CalzagheThere isnít a single fighter in history who hasnít had to cope with some degree of negative comment throughout their fighting days. Every great exponent - ever - of the toughest game has at some point or other been questioned in terms of heart, or ability, or of their desire to prove themselves worthy of approval.

Only once the dust has settled, and a more detached and dispassionate perspective can rise to the surface, can a fighter generally shake some of the criticism that can stalk a career.

The great heavyweight Larry Holmes had legs that were too spindly, was lacking in charisma and was even labelled a coward on his way to 48 consecutive professional victories. Joe Frazier & Evander Holyfield were judged too small to be effective at heavyweight.

Floyd Mayweather junior avoids Margarito, and has attached constant negative publicity in his undefeated career to date. Oscar De la Hoya picks on smaller fighters. Bernard Hopkins is considered too old when he fights Calzaghe. Then he beats the unbeaten Pavlik and is suddenly great again. The list goes on.

In this company a fighting man from a country most people have never been to will always have his critics.

Joe Calzaghe hasnít lost a fight since he was a teenage amateur. The tears he freely admits he shed then upon his early loss have never since made a return.

Armed with a unique, if somewhat awkward style, a strong but not muscular physique, and decent, but not great power he has nevertheless forged a career that deserves to go down amongst the greatest of this sport.

Put simply, the Welshman has always found a way to win, and he has done it against every opponent he has ever faced as a professional.

His last two fights he has fought away from home, against two modern greats, and was knocked down by both in the first round. Despite this, he did not panic, he did not knocked down again, and he found a way to control the tempo of both fights. Simply put he always finds a way to impose his will onto a contest, regardless of the circumstances or the standard of his opponent. This is a very rare ability indeed, and is a gift shared with only a handful of illustrious fistic legends such as Sugar Ray Leonard & Muhammad Ali.

In recent years both Jeff Lacy and Mikkel Kessler were considered the strongest of possible opponents, and both were youthful, unbeaten and were in the main avoided by other fighters. Calzaghe destroyed Lacy, and again imposed his will on the younger, bigger Kessler over 12 rounds.

Joe Calzaghe has shown tremendous fitness and fighting heart over a very long period of time. Yes, itís true to say that the likes of Bradko Sobot, Kabary Salem & Tocker Pudwill were not the best achievements of Joeís career. No-body has ever fought an unbeaten champion opponent every time they enter the ring.

Previous victims, prior to Joeís recent profile elevation do deserve a degree of respect though. Chris Eubank, Richie Woodhall, Robin Reid, Mario Veit, Charles Brewer & Byron Mitchell all had successful careers. Including the fight with Chris Eubank in 1997 and prior to the Jeff Lacy fight in 2006, Joeís opponents had 517 wins between them against only 41 losses. This was hardly bum of the month territory.

So itís arguably true that no amount of further success is likely to add to the Calzaghe legacy. If he beats Chad Dawson, then Dawson would surely just be considered overrated anyway. If he beats Hopkins again, then the Executioner would definitely be too old this time. Pavlik's shine has been recently taken from him, and Jermain Taylor is not longer discussed as a possible threat to Joe.

Joe Calzaghe should retire from boxing when he is ready, and when he no longer has anything to prove. That time, one suspects, is now.

Criticism will of course follow Joe for as long as he fights on. At least he will be amongst some very good company.

It will only be in many years from now, when we realise that there hasnít been another fighter like him in recent history that he will be really appreciated.

And, with enough time on his side, he will be considered a true great.

Article posted on 17.11.2008



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