Calzaghe/Manfredo: Controversial Stoppage at the Millennium

joe calzaghe07.04.07 - By Bob Webb: As expected by most fans on this side of the water and regardless of the hype put up by the Peter Manfredo camp, Joe Calzaghe defended his WBO Super-Middleweight boxing crown against The Contender finalist in some style within three rounds at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium tonight. I can only gather that Manfredo considered this to be an earner as should Joe because the ending was never in doubt from the moment that Manfredo’s gown came off to show a soft midsection and some mugging to the camera.

Joe Calzaghe, in contrast, appeared fit and super concentrated on the task in hand. He knew what we all did: that Peter Manfredo was no great opposition, but he had to make light work of the job and he did. A shame therefore that when the stoppage came there were furious protests from the Manfredo camp and there may have been some justification considering that Manfredo was neither seriously hurt nor out on his feet.

But, and it’s a big but, he wasn’t firing back and he was taking clean shots to the head. Call them slaps if you like but they were of sufficient power and sting to force Manfredo to the ropes for the second time in the round and simply cover up with no answering punches.

In our part of the world, you either fight back or you get stopped and so it should be in this case particularly. If the Manfredo camp seriously believed that Joe would punch himself out, they were considerably fooling themselves and putting their fighter at risk. He had no chance in hell to win the fight and would have endured simply more of the same for as long as his corner was brave enough to take it.

The atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium where Joe was fighting in front of his essentially home crowd was awesome and he soaked it up, encouraging the cheers as he entered the arena and whilst listening to Michael Buffer’s announcements. Joe was the indeed the Prince of Wales tonight. He is already the UK’s favourite fighter – at least until Ricky Hatton’s next contest demands the nation’s attention. And he’s earned it.

From the quiet opening session, where neither fighter overly committed themselves but were both content to feel each other out, to the last second that the fight went, Joe Calzaghe steadily turned the screw on his less experienced opponent. The second round saw more action from Joe with some accurate jabs, excellent feints to draw whatever Manfredo had to offer and then a ratcheting of the pressure when he turned out to have no reply.

In the third, Joe went to work, and soon had Manfredo on the ropes and taking numerous combination punches to head and body, Calzaghe’s arms working like greased pistons in their inimitable style. His hard and accurate jabs were followed by more punishment on the ropes and as he went to work Manfredo looked completely at sea with no ideas nor the punch to take the champion from his stride. He simply covered up but took a load of Joe’s fast and accurate punches to his head before the referee, Terry O’Connor, stepped in with half the round remaining.

No-one got seriously hurt, they both got paid and both will live to fight another day. There was simply no excuse for Peter Manfredo or his corner to complain. He was at the beginning of a painful beating and should be grateful to the ref for saving him from some more painful moments which would surely have been his lot. Jeff Lacy never recovered from his beating. Peter Manfredo Jnr should take note.

For Joe Calzaghe, he did what he should have done. He went to work efficiently and with a workmanlike intensity. Anyone believing that he’d take this fight lightly was to be sadly disappointed. Sometimes Joe does look scrappy but he’s never unprepared and doesn’t tend to let an opponent off the hook. At his age with his work-rate he is a modern marvel and I wish he could go on like this for several more years. He doesn’t attempt to conserve energy. He comes in fit and ready and always, so far, has enough in the tank to finish the job. Whether he’s ready to be taken by the likes of the Dane, Mikkel Kessler, I don’t know. There was no satisfactory answer to that tonight, but I believe he can still do it, maybe just one more time at this level and then call it a day.

If you wish to contact me directly please email raw999@tiscali,co,uk

Article posted on 08.04.2007

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