Calzaghe & Manfredo Make it Official
NEW YORK, NY (November 29, 2006) – Undefeated super middleweight champion JOE CALZAGHE (42-0, 31 KOs), from Newbridge, Wales, boxing’s current longest-reigning world champion, will make his landmark 20th title defense -- sixth-best on boxing’s all-time list -- against top-10 contender PETER MANFREDO, Jr. (26-3, 12 KOs), from Providence, RI. The Calzaghe-Manfredo world super middleweight championship rumble will take place Saturday, March 3, 2007, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales – the Welshman Calzaghe’s first fight on his home turf since September 10, 2005, when he successfully defended his title against Evans Ashira..
Article posted on 30.11.2006
Manfredo, who earned worldwide attention with his runner-up finish on NBC’s “The Contender” during the television show’s debut season - and seen in 100 countries - is the first fighter from the series to challenge for a world title. Promoted by Frank Warren’s Sports Network, in association with Mark Burnett’s The Tournament of Contenders, Calzaghe-Manfredo will be broadcast live in the U.S. on HBO World Championship Boxing, beginning at 5 P.M. ET / 2 P.M. PT and replayed later that evening at 10 P.M. ET
"On the night of the fight, Manfredo is in for the harsh reality of boxing,” said Calzaghe “There's a world of difference between being a reality TV star and a world champion boxer. He's only seen the glitz and the glamour of the sport, now he's in for the real thing against me. Manfredo will go from being a star to seeing stars. From what I have seen of him, he is a good tough kid and is well known in America but this is my 20th title defence and my ninth year as world champion and Manfredo isn't going to spoil it for me."
"I want to thank Joe Calzaghe for giving me this chance,” Manfredo responded.
“And while I have the utmost respect for his skills and our mutual Italian heritage I must follow in the footsteps of previous generations of Americans who fought the British in the Revolutionary War and the rematch, the War of 1812, and use my skills to beat the British once again.”
“I hope this will be the first of many fights between my two home countries,” said Burnett, a former soldier in a British parachute regiment, who now resides in the U.S. “Peter Manfredo has showed the skill and heart that earned him this opportunity and we expect this to be one of the most exciting fights of the new year.”
"I'm delighted that Joe will make his historic 20th World Super-Middleweight title defence against Peter Manfredo on HBO,” stated Warren. “It's a landmark occasion in the history of British boxing and it's great that the American fight fans will be able to see it. Peter's a good fighter and his attacking style, matched against Joe's come forward style, will make for a great fight."
“Joe Calzaghe is a terrific champion and we’re thrilled to be showcasing his 20th title defense,” said HBO Sports senior vice president Kery Davis. “Peter Manfredo has the opportunity of a lifetime to go overseas and pull off a shocker.”
Calzaghe, at nine years and counting, is currently boxing’s longest-reigning champion. “The Pride of Wales” captured the vacant WBO title, October 11, 1997, knocking down two-time world champion and British boxing legend Chris Eubank twice en route to a dominating unanimous decision on scores of 118-109, 118-111 and 116-111. Though his résumé boasts victories over former world champions Charles Brewer, Byron Mitchell, Robin Reid and Richie Woodhall, nothing compares to his victory over IBF/IBO champion Jeff Lacy, where he unified the title fighting a masterclass against previously undefeated champion who was the first 2000 U.S. Olympian to win a world title. The victory was so emphatic -- Calzaghe won every round of the fight -- and so important to the division, The Ring magazine conferred its prestigious championship belt upon the new unified champion, the first time in the division’s 22-year history that The Ring has ever recognized a super middleweight as its world champion.
Calzaghe, 34, returns to the ring after successfully defending his titles last month for the 19th time, defeating former Olympian Sakio Bika. Calzaghe ended Bika’s four-year, 12-bout unbeaten streak, in a spirited fight that also marked Calzaghe’s debut on HBO. The victory elevated Calzaghe into a sixth-place tie with former strawweight champion Ricardo López and former featherweight champion Eusebio Pedroza on the all-time list for successful title defenses. A victory over Manfredo would advance Calzaghe into a fourth-place tie with former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes and former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins.
Manfredo, Jr., 25, from Providence, RI, is the son of former world kickboxing champion Peter Manfredo, Sr. After an outstanding amateur career, Manfredo made his pro debut on September 22, 2000, winning a unanimous decision against undefeated prospect Steve Garrett. Before competing on “The Contender” Manfredo’s professional resume featured impressive victories over former world champion Frankie Randall, via a seventh-round knockout; top-10 contender Ian Gardner, tagging him with his first loss; a sixth-round knockout of undefeated Sherwin Davis for the vacant NABO jr. middleweight title and lopsided 12-round unanimous decision over Anthony Bonsante in his first NABO title defense. But it was on “The Contender” that the entire world got its first look at Manfredo and he made the most of it.
Posting victories over Miguel Angel Espino, Alfonso Gomez, and current NABO middleweight champion Joey Gilbert, Manfredo advanced into the finals and fought for the $1 million championship purse in front of a star-studded sold-out house at Caesars Palace. Manfredo lost a tough decision to undefeated Sergio Mora but not without winning millions of fans. Back on the winning track and trained by legendary Freddie Roach, Manfredo won both his 2006 fights this year, serving up third-round knockouts to former world title challenger Scott Pemberton and undefeated contender Joey Spina, en route to career-high world ratings, ranked No. 7 by the World Boxing Organization and No. 8 by the World Boxing Council.
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