Staggering. The only word to describe reports Super-Middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe is considering abdicating from his ten year reign as WBO belt-holder. Following the furore surrounding his most recent defence of the much-maligned belt against over-matched American Peter Manfredo, it seems the much-publicised bout proved one mediocre contest too far for boxing fans (and possibly TV network ITV) following equally disappointing points victories over pint-sized Evans Ashira and hard-headed Sakio Bika.
However, it does suggest the persistence of the hand-trouble the Welshmen is once again suffering from is injecting some much need impetus into negotiations with Danish rival Mikkel Kessler, who holds two of the big four belts. Other premier fixtures versus Hopkins, Taylor or Wright appear unlikely because of conflicting time-frames and Kessler, with Carl Froch as back up, appears the most likely marquee fight for Calzaghe’s September outing. The broken bone ensuring the planned July defence was the fantasy every fans suspected it was and leaves the 35 year old increasingly desperate to secure some meaningful contests before his hands or old age prevent him from fighting.
Calzaghe’s promoter and manager Frank Warren, who grinned like a Cheshire cat at the 30,000 plus gate last month then grimaced when Terry O’Conner intervened before Calzaghe could show-case his complete arsenal before the gathered world media, is also coming to the end of his contract with ITV. And his record thus far in delivering pulsating contests has been distinctly average.
The feedback about Calzaghe v Manfredo and Maccarinelli v Gunn cannot, even among the most pragmatic of television executives, been positive and this could be another driver in setting up the kind of Autumnal carrot to get the network back on board with another contract.
To conclude, giving up the belt to avoid another meaningless defence against the unknown Denis Inkin is the right thing to do with so little career left in Joe’s fists but one wonders what would have happened had he adopted this bold strategy when Sven Ottke, Eric Lucas, Glen Catley et all held belts and whether more thrilling fixtures with Hopkins, Trinidad, Taylor, Tarver, Woods, Mundine could have been made with out the weight limit restriction and rankings of the WBO.
The Daily Mirror appear to have broken the news.