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Rocky Marciano vs Joe Calzaghe – Comparing the legends

cal6348By Liam Santiago: The legacy of any fighter is often not fully appreciated until enough years have past or that fighter is unable to ever fight again. The reason for this is often down to the selfish nature of critics and fans. Of course, every boxing fan wants to see the best fight the best. Rocky Marciano retired undefeated after forty nine bouts. Joe Calzaghe came close to equaling the record with forty six.

He might not have made that extra three bouts needed to fall level with the Italian-American legend but did he achieve more?

The undefeated heavyweight, Rocky Marciano, did not fight in the greatest era of heavyweight boxing or even in a very competitive one but he showed his class and deserves the legacy he has left. No boxer has equalled his record since. Many have come close including Nikolay Valuev, who fought much inferior opposition and also Larry Holmes who went forty eight bouts unbeaten before losing to Michael Spinks.

Marciano is famous for his victories over Jersey Joe Walcott and Joe Louis, although Louis was well past his best. He also defeated Roland LaStarza, who was undefeated after thirty seven bouts. There might not be too many big names on Marciano’s record, but that is down to the era he fought in. Joe Calzaghe first jumped to stardom when he was crowned world champion after beating Chris Eubank on points, knocking him down in the first round. Since he has beaten undefeated American star Jeff Lacy, undefeated Danish warrior Mikkel Kessler, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jnr among other top names. Calzaghe is constantly criticised for his level of opposition but if you compare these two warriors, Calzaghe has had the tougher opponents.

You can take nothing away from Marciano whatsoever. To go that long undefeated with forty three knockouts is incredible, especially giving that he was only five foot ten, very small for a heavyweight. He also had his critics in his day but time has washed them away. Back then critics said he did not have the size or the finesse to go on and be a success, but his determination and will to win silenced them all. Calzaghe’s critics have never really questioned his talent, just his level of opposition. Of course every boxing fan would have preferred to see Calzaghe fight Kelly Pavlik or Chad Daswon instead of an old Roy Jones Jnr, but, how many fighters are still anywhere near a gym at the age Joe was at? He unified the super middleweight division by outpointing Mikkel Kessler at the age of thirty five and defeated Bernard Hopkins at thirty seven. Hopkins went on to school Kelly Pavlik. The simple fact is Calzaghe can’t go on forever.

Like Marciano, Calzaghe will only be full appreciated in fifty to seventy years from now. Currently every boxing fan in Britain is screaming at Joe to fight Carl Froch. They were screaming for him to face Kelly Pavlik before Hopkins gave him a boxing lesson. He defeated Jeff Lacy, the man the press were dubbing as the next Mike Tyson, but as soon as Joe beats him he is ‘over rated’. So would a victory over Froch prove anything? In Marciano’s prime he was not criticised that heavily on his opposition, simply because the era was not great. Does Marciano get criticism for fighting an old Joe Louis, who was much further past his best than Jones was.

The appreciation for Calzaghe will come, but it will take time. The reason behind the criticism now is mostly selfishness. Fans want to see him fight again and as they can’t they criticise him. But the fact is he has beaten everyone put in front of him. Lacy Kessler, Eubank all came up short. Marciano proved his incredible talent and incredible power and no one ever could touch him. In terms of who proved he was the greatest I have to with Calzaghe.

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