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Joe Calzaghe top five most impressive wins

Image: Joe Calzaghe top five most impressive wins

By Ronan Mcilhennon: Representing the fighting pride of Newbridge, Wales. Joe Calzaghe had an unblemished career in the super middleweight division, although it was up at 175 he beat his biggest names with point wins over veteran greats Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr.

With his father and trainer Enzo by his side, they forged an unorthodox but formidable partnership. He retired in 2008 with a record of 46 wins from 46 contests and is considered by many as the greatest British boxer of all time. Here are five of his most impressive wins according to this writers opinion.

5) Robin Reid, 13th February 1999. Telewest Arena, Newcastle, United Kingdom.

A rivalry that stemmed back to the qualifiers for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and continued into the paid ranks. It was Joe’s 3rd defense of his WBO world title and was a lot harder than expected. Joe had hurt his shoulder in sparring which meant he was unable to spar in the lead up to this contest. This lack of sparring would be blamed for a massive misjudgment in Calzaghe’s weight as in the morning of the official weigh-in he was still six pounds over the limit.

He managed to lose the weight in time but bigger problems lay ahead as he broke the metacarpal bone in his left hand in round six. He was forced to take some big shots from Reid who was having a lot of success with his right hand and also had a point deducted for hitting on the break. Although, this was the fight that showed not only did Calzaghe have the skills he also had the chin as he gritted his teeth and stood toe to toe with Reid in a classic all British dustup. Calzaghe won majority decision 116-111, 116-111, 111-116.

4) Bernard Hopkins, 19th April 2008. Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.

This fight fulfilled his life long dream to box in Las Vegas when he won a split decision against ‘the ‘the executioner’ Bernard Hopkins. It also asked the question could Calzaghe do it outside of Europe? At the age of 43, Hopkins was still a very serious threat to Calzaghe’s undefeated record and was still considered as an excellent fighter, who would go on after this contest to beat some good fighters like Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal, and Tavoris Cloud.

The two fighters both came face to face at the weigh-in for Mayweather vs Hatton and the fight was given some extra spice after Hopkins racist remark that he would never let a white boy beat him. Calzaghe was forced to get off the ground in an extremely close fight with Hopkins winning the early rounds then Calzaghe out working the veteran down the stretch. Calzaghe won majority decision 111-116, 112-115, 114-113.

3) Chris Eubank, 11th October 1997. Sheffield Arena, Sheffield, United Kingdom.

This fight was for the vacant WBO super middleweight title, the title had become vacant after champion Steve Collins retired due to injury. At the fight press conference, Eubank addressed Calzaghe by stating ‘You’ve never been into the trenches. I’ve been there and that’s where I’m going to take you.’ Round one and Calzaghe dropped Eubank with a left hook then naively went for the finish.

Although, Eubank had an iron-like chin and true to his word dragged the younger Calzaghe into a dog fight. Joe would describe this fight as the toughest of his career, and needed a telling off from Enzo at the start of the seventh ‘what are you doing, Joe? You’ve got to keep fighting this guy.’ Joe responded and dropped Eubank again in round ten to secure his first world title. Calzaghe won unanimous decision 118-109, 116-111, 118-110.

2) Jeff Lacy, 4th March 2006. M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, United Kingdom.

On the line here was Calzaghe’s WBO Title, the IBF title owned by Lacy and the vacant Ring Magazine belt. The fight was staged at 2 am local time to accommodate live television coverage on Showtime in the United States. Calzaghe was a betting underdog even with British bookmakers but he produced a masterclass, throwing close to a 1000 punches and dominated Lacy who would never be the same fighter again.

In the build-up, he had been accused of ducking Lacy who had been described by the media as the new Mike Tyson. Many thought he would steamroll an aging Calzaghe but on that night Calzaghe finally established himself as, arguably the best boxer of his generation and one of the very best in British boxing history. Calzaghe won unanimous decision 119-107, 119-109, 119-105.

1) Mikkel Kessler, 3rd November 2007. Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, United Kingdom.

On the line here was Calzaghe’s WBO title and the WBC and WBA titles which both belonged to Kessler. In the Dane, Calzaghe truly faced his toughest opponent. As 50,000 adoring fans looked on, Calzaghe was forced to once again dig deep as Kessler took the fight to him landing some hurtful punches early on.

Although over the second half, Joe’s superiority established itself, as he sacrificed power and concentrated not only on accuracy but also on fast combinations, to dazzle the Great Dane. This win was even more impressive than his win over Lacy. The win over Lacy had made the world take notice of Joe Calzaghe but this win cemented his place among the top fighters on the pound-for-pound list.

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