Joe Calzaghe: An All Time Great?
The defence against Mitchell was just one of 21 successful title defences of his beloved WBO world title over an almost 10 year period. Included in his dominance at 168lbs were wins over former world titlists Robin Reid, Richie Woodhall, Charles Brewer and highly regarded prospects in Omar Sheika and Mario Veit. However, mixed in with these legitimate opponents were several obscure and undeserving foes. Names such as Branco Sobot, Will Mcintyre, Tocker Pudwill and Evans Ashira do nothing for Calzaghe’s resume other than pad it and rack up meaningless title defences.
At this point it is worth noting that the other undefeated Super Middleweight champion at this time, Sven Ottke of Germany, was not so willing to get into the ring with Calzaghe in a fight that undoubtedly, in my mind at least, would have ended in a one sided beating in favour of Calzaghe.
Whatever your point of view on Calzaghe, it was obvious to all that the lack of a career defining unification fights were starting to harm his legacy. Calzaghe also craved recognition on the other side of the Atlantic which up until to the summer of 2006 was yet to be his. This was all to change when Calzaghe demolished the unbeaten, much hyped American power puncher Jeff Lacy. It was a night to remember for Calzaghe as he put on a boxing clinic to strip Lacy of his IBF world title.
A couple of defences followed until Joe signed for the biggest fight of his career. He would face the unbeaten Danish world champion Mikkel Kessler in a fight which many people expected him to lose. Yet again though, Calzaghe proved his doubters wrong as he used his superb boxing skills to box his way to a comfortable UD; Calzaghe had now won every major belt at 168lbs and laid down a legitimate claim to be the best Super Middleweight of all time.
A major criticism of Calzaghe was that he may have avoided the main threats to his unbeaten record from the US, Roy Jones Jnr and Bernard Hopkins, as well as not crossing the pond to showcase his talents to a US audience. With nothing else left to prove at 168lbs Calzaghe decided it was time to make his way across the Atlantic and come face to face with his long term possible opponents. In his fight against Hopkins the Welsh Dragon tasted the canvas early, but came back strong down the stretch to take a razor thin decision against the 43 year old modern great to become the Ring magazine Light heavyweight world champion. On Saturday night Calzaghe faced his second legend in Jones Jnr and again tasted the canvas early before taking over in the second round to lay a sustained beating on Jones that boxing fans thought would never happen.
Calzaghe has said it is his intention to retire after the triumph against Jones, and after 46 fights and 46 wins who can blame him, but the question that are often discussed when it comes to Calzaghe is whether he has done enough in those 46 fights to be considered an ATG.
Both sides of the debate have their views, both sides of which I can sympathise with.
On one side are the people who say that Calzaghe has been a protected fighter whose resume is far too padded to be considered as an ATG, and whose two final wins came over opponents with an average age of 41. While on the other side people point to Calzaghe’s utter dominance at 168lbs as well as being ring magazine champion simultaneously in two divisions. Both sides to the argument have a strong case.
I have thought long and hard to whether I consider Joe Calzaghe as an ATG. I think he is a particularly hard fighter to decide on. For me though, even though he is unbeaten in 46 fights and achieved so much in the sport there is still too much room to pick apart his career to consider him an ATG. There is the resume which has many weak names on it. But in my opinion the major flaw in Calzaghe’s career is the time he chose to fight Hopkins and Jones Jnr. I believe to be considered an ATG Calzaghe needed to have fought both in the early 00’s when both were in their prime. However, Calzaghe still has the opportunity to be considered an ATG in my mind. He needs to take on one more foe, an opponent that is in their prime and hungry, this man is Chad Dawson. I have seen a lot of dismissing of this fight, but I would love to see it and truly believe it would cement Calzaghe as the greatest British fighter of all time.
Although I don’t consider Calzaghe as an ATG at this point I still see him as a first ballot Hall of famer as well as the greatest 168lber of all time. He is an unbelievable talent who on his day was unbeatable. If he has retired, as he says he has, he will be missed and a huge void will be left behind to be filled. Joe will always be one of my favourite fighters and I hope people on both sides of the ATG debate understand point of view.
Posted 11-09-2008 at 05:17 PM by Shambleton
Posted 11-09-2008 at 05:43 PM by The Monk
Posted 11-09-2008 at 06:35 PM by Benny Leonard
Posted 11-10-2008 at 06:41 AM by dave.kind777
Posted 11-10-2008 at 06:52 AM by dave.kind777
Posted 11-10-2008 at 10:02 AM by The Monk