On the cusp of his American coronation against game Contender Peter Manfredo on April 7th, Joe Calzaghe has been reflecting on the year that has elapsed since he emerged from the debris of his long tenure as WBO Super-Middleweight champion, and all the mediocrity that attracts, to beat Jeff Lacy. In conversation with the Wales On Sunday, and available through icwales.co.uk, Calzaghe is clearly keen to still bask in the glow of that victory but is growing more earnest and pragmatic regarding the disrespect that preceded his vault into the pound-for-pound debate.
Promoter Frank Warren, who sits on the panel deciding upon the 100 bouts that will feature in the latest Opus publication to which the interview provides timely promotion, reiterated the decisiveness of the performance and Calzaghe’s potential to eclipse the achievements of all his British predecessors. It would certainly be churlish to detract from Calzaghe domination, though Lacy has been proved to lack the flexibility or technique to be considered a great himself, but fans will hope Manfredo represents the last of the moderate opponents Calzaghe faces before another assault on the fighters that will cement a place in the pantheon of boxing greats.
Jermaine Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Mikkell Kessler and blue collar alternatives Clinton Woods and Glen Johnson need to feature – or should I say more than one of them does – if Calzaghe is to truly fulfil his undoubted potential as a professional prizefighter and of course, the clock is ticking for the 35 year old with irreparably brittle fists.
Whatever the outcome of the remaining chapters, he’s always been devoted to duty in the ring. Always in shape, focused and a constant presence in one division;all qualities few other champions can match in these times of weight jumping and easy pay-days. Calzaghe has had some of those too, but as an athlete he’s been a tremendous ambassador for the sport – I just hope the frustration everyone has felt at his inability to face off with leading contemporaries like Beyer, Catley, Kessler, Ottke, Mundine and Jones Jnr doesn’t haunt him in retirement.
He still has time to rectify the omissions. But not much.
To read the interesting interview click here, for those interested in the forthcoming publication – a monumental undertaking – beware of the £3,000 price tag that will accompany it.