This writer has followed the career of Joe Calzaghe the Italian Dragon from Wales. He was 110-10 in the amateurs. The man ended his professional career at 46-0 with 32 knockouts. In 2015 he was inducted into the IBHOF.
Calzaghe was 44-0 having never fought in the US. He was the WBO Super Middleweight champion and made 21 title defenses. In 2006 he unified the WBO title and won the IBF title defeating Jeff “Left Hook” Lacey, 21-0. In 2007 he defeated Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler, 39-0, who held the WBA and WBC title.
Calzaghe decided along with his father-trainer Enzo and manager Frank Warren to come to the US to face former world champion and then Ring Magazine light heavyweight champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 48-4-1, in Las Vegas and took a split decision with improving his record to 45-0 in April of 2008. Hopkins would go onto win the IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles after this. He just retired this past year and will certainly go into the IBHOF. Calzaghe had to have his left hand examined and was put on suspension.
In November Calzaghe returned to the US to defend the Ring Magazine’s title to face Roy Jones, Jr., 52-4 at Madison Square Garden. In Jones previous fight he defeated former world champion Felix Trinidad, 42-2, who entered the IBHOF the same time Calzaghe and Oscar de La Hoya did. At age 49 Jones is still boxing. All three officials had Calzaghe winning over Jones 118-109. At the age of 36 the Pride of Wales retired. It was reported his hands were almost crippled from having them broken so many times.
There have been reports of Calzaghe not handling retirement well having bouts with drugs, etc. Once out of the limelight it isn’t anything unusual for a professional athlete going from the limelight to “out of the limelight!” What was amazing is that like former world heavyweight champion Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis Calzaghe did his entire career in one division at super middleweight. A heavyweight can’t “move up” but many others have winning titles at higher weights. For Calzaghe to fright from 1993 to 2008 at the same weight is incredible.
In October of 1997 Calzaghe won the vacant WBO title defeating Chris Eubank, 45-2-2. In his 22 title defenses he defeated such boxers as Juan Carlos Gimenez, 51-8-3, from Paraguay, Robin Reid 26-1, from the UK, Rick Thornberry, 23-2, from Australia, Dave Starie 22-1, from the UK, Omar Sheika, 20-1, from the US, ending the career of Richie Woodall, 26-2, from the UK, Armenian living in Russia Mger Mkrtchyan, 18-1, former NBA champion Egyptian Kabary Salem, 23-3, living in the US, twice defeating Germany’s Mario Veit, 30-0, in Wales in 2001, and in Germany when Veit was 45-1, in 2005. This was followed by defeating Evans Ashira, 24-1, from Kenya living in Denmark. Then came the win over Lacey followed by defeating Cameroon’s Sakio Bika, 20-1-2, living in Australia, Next would be Peter Manfredo, Jr., 26-3, from the US, then Kessler, Hopkins and Jones.
Calzaghe also defeated former WBA champion Byron Mitchell, 25-2-1, and former IBF champion Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer, 37-8, from the US. In Calzaghe’s only other fight outside of the UK was in Denmark defeating Will McIntyre, 29-2, of the US.
It was quite a career for the southpaw Calzaghe but he is hardly ever mentioned when the all-time great Europeans or boxers from the UK come up here in the US. His accomplishments as before mentioned are amazing. Upon his retirement Ring Magazine listed him as His retirement not so amazing which is why this writer doing interviews never asks former boxers “how are you doing now except are you still involved in boxing such as a trainer?” Few boxers with the exception of say George Foreman do better financially “after boxing”.