Calzaghe's Decade Of Dominance

It's Joe Calzaghe's Decade of Dominance tomorrow (11 October) as he celebrates the 10th anniversary of his famous victory over British great Chris Eubank to win the World Boxing Organization World Super-Middleweight title. The undefeated Welshman has made 20 successful defences of his belt in that time and also added the IBF crown to his illustrious record..

He will certainly go down as one of the all-time greats to come out of this country.

Now 35 and boasting a perfect 43-0 record, Calzaghe will aim to again unify the 168lb division on November 3 when he tackles WBC and WBA champion Mikkel Kessler at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff televised live and exclusive on Setanta Sports.

When Calzaghe beat Eubank, Britain's two big world champions at the time were Naseem Hamed and Lennox Lewis, both have long since retired, but Calzaghe is still there at the top.

Speaking from his training camp for the fight, Calzaghe said he was incredibly proud of his achievement.

"If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would still be champion today, I wouldn't have believed them," said Calzaghe.

"I didn't plan on being the longest reigning world champion, it just happened. When you see the names of who was world champion back then like Lennox and Naz then you realise just how long it has been. I've also outlasted the Spice Girls although they have just made a return which is what I don't plan to do when I retire from boxing,"

"It's been hard work holding on to my title though and I don't plan on giving it up yet. Kessler is probably the best fighter I have ever faced, but like all the others, he'll be going home empty handed,"

"The time has flown by, I was a good looking, fresh faced kid at 25 but I've weathered quite well in ten years as I don't take too many punches to my face and I've never had my nose broken,"

"I've still got plenty of ambition though and once I beat Kessler I want to step up to the light-heavyweight division and conquer there but I don't want to reign for another ten years, hopefully I will be retired!"

"The Kessler fight is the biggest of my career and I want to stay focused on him for now, the celebrations can wait until after I have beaten Kessler."

Calzaghe's incredible 10-year reign has seen him beat former world champions Robin Reid, Richie Woodhall, Charles Brewer and Byron Mitchell, as well as the stunning victory over IBF holder Jeff Lacy.

He has also been recognised as the best super-middleweight in the world by boxing bible The Ring magazine, and awarded the MBE for his services to the sport.

By way of comparison, when Calzaghe captured the belt, Tony Blair had been in power just a few months having won the 1997 General Election, Dolly the Sheep had become the first animal to be successfully cloned, the first Harry Potter novel had just been published and iPods and DVDs were not around.

Elton John's Candle in the Wind was the number one single, while The Verve's Urban Hymns topped the album charts and supergroups Oasis and the Spice Girls were at the peak of their power.

Channel Five was launched in 1997, while on the night Calzaghe beat Eubank, England's footballers drew with Italy in Rome in a World Cup qualifier to ensure progress to the 1998 World Cup.

Paul Gascoigne ran the midfield that night, while Tony Adams led the defence.

England's cricketers, captained by Mike Atherton, had suffered another Ashes reverse in the summer, while in boxing, Britain's two big world champions were Naseem Hamed and Lennox Lewis who have long since retired.

Lewis had yet to have his career-defining fights against Evander Holyfield, while Hamed was preparing for his American debut with a December clash with Kevin Kelley in New York.

In the world of movies, Titanic dominated the Oscars in 1997, while the Full Monty helped revive British cinema as it played to sell-out audiences up and down the country.

Calzaghe's promoter Frank Warren said, "To be world champion for ten years in any sport is a phenomenal achievement. How many sportsman, not only in Britain but the world, can say that they beat the best in their sport and remain undefeated champion for ten years?

"Joe is one of the nice guys of the sport and it has been a real privilege to promote him. This is not only a celebration for Joe but for his father Enzo who deserves a lot of the credit for all the hard work he has put into training Joe and turning him into the world class fighter that he is. Along with Enzo, I believe that we make a great team and that I have added to his great success story along the way."

He added, "Joe has had so many great defences but without a doubt the Lacy fight is the greatest performance that I have seen from a British boxer in a fight that he went into as the so called underdog and he totally dominated the fight from start to finish.

"There is still plenty more to come from Joe and he is in a massive fight against Kessler next month which will be the toughest of his career."

Article posted on 10.10.2007

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