Comparing former Super Middleweight Champion Joe “Pride of Wales” Calzaghe to Champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez!
By Ken Hissner: Super Middleweight WBA, WBO, and WBC champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico is considered by many as the P4P No. 1 boxer in the world today. In looking back at former unbeaten WBA, WBO, IBF, and WBC champion southpaw Joe “Pride of Wales” Calzaghe of Wales, did he get the kind of recognition that Alvarez gets today? Let’s take a look at both in comparison.
Calzaghe retired at the age of 38 in 2008 due to brittle hands with a record of 46-0 with 32 knockouts and 21 title defenses. His amateur record reported at 110-10.
He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2014. He was inducted along with Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya and Felix “Tito” Trinidad.
This writer made the comment, “don’t let Calzaghe’s induction be overshadowed by de La Hoya and Trinidad since he defeated Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins who defeated both de La Hoya and Trinidad.
Alvarez is active at 30 with a 56-1-2 record with 38 knockouts. He won titles at 154, 160, 168, and 175 with a total of 9 defenses. His amateur record reported at 44-2.
Calzaghe fought in Germany and Denmark once each and the US twice, with 42 in the UK (18 in Wales and 1 in Scotland). His last two bouts were in the US. He fought from 1993 to 2008. Alvarez has fought in the US 25 times, with his last 19 there and Mexico 34 times. He turned pro in 2005, just 3 months past his 15th birthday.
Calzaghe was trained by his father Enzo Calzaghe and promoted by Frank Warren. Alvarez has been trained by Jose and Eddy Reynoso. Promoted by Felix Sabala, Sr. from 2008-2009 and Golden Boy Promotions, Canelo Promotions, and DAZN since 2009. He is no longer with Golden Boy.
Calzaghe won his first world title in 1997 in his 23rd fight defeating Chris “Simply the Best” Eubank, 45-2-2, for the vacant WBO title. In 2006 he won the IBF title over USA Olympian Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, 21-0 by decision. In 2007 he added the WBA and WBC titles defeating Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler, 39-0. It would be his final fight in the UK before going to the US for his final 2 bouts. Some of the highlights during his career were defeating Germany’s Mario Veit, 30-0, in 2001 by a first round stoppage. In 2005 in a return match in Germany, he stopped Veit, 45-1, in the sixth round. In 2002 he defeated former IBF champion from the US Charles “Hatchet” Brewer, 37-8. “In my opinion, Calzaghe was the only fighter who dominated Brewer when Brewer was in his prime. I cannot count the Beasley fight—too quick—or the loss due to weight problems with Rafael Williams. All of Brewer’s other losses—in his prime—were questionable. Not Calzaghe. I had it 8-4 in rounds,” said J Russell Peltz, IBHOF promoter.
In 2008 coming to the US, Calzaghe moved up to light heavyweight and came off the canvas and defeated Hopkins, 48-4-1, by split decision in Las Vegas, NV. This was the only time in his career he was suspended due to a left-hand injury. Prior to the fight, Hopkins said, “No white boy will beat me, or I won’t be able to go back to the hood!” Hopkins would go onto win a world title at 175. This writer had it 115-112 Calzaghe. The fans cheered the win. Hopkins held the entire fight while referee Joe Cortez never warned him once. Calzaghe came off the canvas in the first round. “Dad, this is going to be my last fight,” said Calzaghe. “To end my career against one of the greatest fighters there’s ever been at Madison Square Garden, what more motivation do I need,” said Calzaghe. In his next and final fight, he defeated former 4-division world champion Roy Jones, Jr., 52-4, with all scores 118-109, at Madison Square Garden, NY. Calzaghe had to come off the canvas in the first round to do it. Jones would go onto fight another 10 years. This writer had it 117-111. Jones suffered a cut that bothered him the second half of the fight. Calzaghe came off the canvas in the first round. When Calzaghe said, “Dad, I lost my hunger,” I knew it was over,” said Enzo. The pain in his hands brought it all to an end! “Finish on my own terms; money can’t buy that, nobody can buy that,” said Calzaghe.
Alvarez won his first world title defeating, Matthew Hatton, 41-4-2, in 2011 for the WBC World Super Welterweight title. In 2013 he won the IBF title defeating Austin “No Doubt” Trout, 26-0. In his next bout, he suffered his only career loss to WBA champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr., 44-0, by majority decision. This writer felt he lost all 12 rounds. In 2015 he would win the vacant WBC World Middleweight title defeating Miguel “Junito” Cotto, 40-4, due to coming in at 155 to Cotto at 153 ½. In his next fight, he would return to 154. In 2017 he would move back up to 160 fighting to a controversial split decision draw against WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF, and IBO World Middleweight champion Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin, 37-0. This writer had Golovkin winning. It would be a year to the day in a rematch he would take all the titles from Golovkin, 38-0-1, by majority decision. This one could have been a draw. At the end of the year, he moved up to Super Middle and won the WBA title, stopping Rocky Fielding, 27-1. In 2019 he dropped back to Middleweight, defeating Danny “Miracle Man” Jacobs, 35-2, and followed, moving up to light heavyweight stopping Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, 34-3-1, for his WBO title. He would drop back to super middleweight in his next 3 fights defeating Callum “Mundo” Smith, 27-0, stopping Avni “Mr. Robot” Yildirim, 21-2, and in his most recent fight adding the WBO title to his WBC and WBA titles stopping Billy Joe “Superb” Saunders, 30-0 in May of 2021. In all, he was suspended some 16 times (twice by left eye lacerations). At age 30, Alvarez has a good future to look forward to especially drawing 67,000 fans in his last fight and with opponents lining up to meet him, knowing a big payday is in for them.
So there you have it. While Calzaghe stayed at 168 until his final 2 bouts moving up to 175, Alvarez turned pro at 139 and went as high as 174 ½ and currently is world WBO, WBA, and WBC champion at 168.
This writer contacted Philadelphia’s former IBF World Super Middleweight champion Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer, who had this to say about Calzaghe: Ken, my fight with Calzaghe was probably one of the prime fights of my career. Although at the time we fought, I was a bit past my prime. Nevertheless, I/WE gave a very entertaining fight for the fans. Speed is Power, so it is said, BUT not in this fight! In fact, throughout the fight, there had never been a point during the fight that I thought because of his power that I would be unable to continue to apply pressure while searching for that home run punch. Speed, yes, I’d give him the advantage in that category, but his power never threatened me. We were both game for that fight and most certainly gave both in-house and thousands of fight fans internationally, watching on SHOWTIME, a very memorable and entertaining fight. In fact, Calzaghe and I still keep in contact with each other. Joe gave me and my wife tickets to his fight with Roy Jones in NY. In fact, I was just chatting with Joe a few days ago online about the fight game.
Back in November of 2015 in an article by James Ingham Calzaghe had this to say: “I never wanted to be a celebrity. It was all about the boxing”. He added, “I’ve had more broken bones than I can remember. My hands are crippled. They ache every single day from all the breaks. I have a really bad back too. I’m on painkillers a lot, and I’m going to have bad arthritis when I’m older. I was happy to retire – I retired at the top. Yes, it was hard to fill the adrenaline rush for a while, and that pisses you off, but it’s nice to just be normal. Now I’m a dad and live the quiet life.” A DVD “MR. Calzaghe has since been produced.
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