Calzaghe – Another great addition to the HOF
By Daniel Hughes: This weekend in New York sees Joe Calzaghe, the retired, unbeaten 46-0(32ko) super-middleweight champion from Wales rightly inducted into the boxing hall of fame.
The Newbridge born fighter reigned unbeaten at 168lbs for over 11 years now rewarded for his career that certainly excited the fans in the UK. He becomes only the 4th Welsh fighter to join the IBHOF joining esteemed Welsh fighters Jimmy Wilde, Jim Driscoll and Freddie Welsh some achievement.
The unbeaten run as champion here in the UK started with beating Chris Eubank to win the WBO 168lb strap. It was of course the dismantling of the much hyped Jeff Lacy in 2006 that really started to give Calzaghe the plaudits and exposure he deserved. It is those type of fights that make or break a career, Lacy never the same again after being totally outclassed. The other performance that stood out was against a prime Mikkel Kessler in 2007 in front of 50,000 fans in Wales a UD against a much underrated fighter at the time in Kessler.
The fight fans stateside never got to see much of Calzaghe until the tail end of his career when beating Bernard Hopkins on a split-decision for the ring light-heavyweight title. The finish of his career Madison Square Garden and comfortably beating Roy Jones Jr on points. The question always had been asked why he hadn’t gone to the USA earlier for the exposure and long term the bigger paydays. It is something for you the fans to debate the timing, but he did get to fight in Las Vegas against Hopkins and the dream ending at The Garden against Jones Jr.
The one problem Calzaghe had more than any other towards the end of a stellar career was hand trouble. He sparred very little towards the end of his career. The debate on where he stands compared to others is open to debate and opinion but should he be in the hall of fame no doubt. He got out unbeaten, faculties intact financially happy and was rightly never tempted to come back or stay on for the fights on offer. Fights against the likes of an upcoming UK fighter at the time in Carl Froch, who had been calling him out like Joe Calzaghe, had done at the start of his career to tough Irishman Steve Collins. Boxing truly goes in circles.
The initial first two years of retirement itself he has often stated he found hard to cope with, walking away from it all can be the toughest decision of all for many fighters and for many reasons. The fame, the finances, the adulation and the addiction of the ring take your pick can always lure you back.
Joe Calzaghe had his last fight in November 2008 against Roy Jones Jr a great fighter, who even at that time was past his peak. The hall of fame will no doubt add his name one day. You have to be retired for five years before being added to the inductees, Jones Jr still fights on sadly, Calzaghe can certainly look forward to joining that hall of fame list, and he deserves it.