Enzo and Joe Calzaghe Conference Call Transcript

Fred Sternburg: Welcome everybody. Weíre two-and-a-half weeks away from the most highly anticipated fight of the year. Undefeated super-middleweight champions Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler who will be meeting to unify, for the first time, the super middleweight championship of the world. It will be on November 3 at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Ticket sales are way over 30,000 already so I think if we havenít passed the indoor European record for boxing, which was set at Calzagheís last defense, against Peter Manfredo, weíre pretty darn close to it..

Millennium Stadium is scaled to break the world indoor record for boxing with 63,000. This fight will be seen live in the United States on HBO at a special time. It will be on live at 9:00 pm east coast, 6:00 pm west coast.

We do have Joe Calzaghe and his father and trainer, Enzo Calzaghe to speak with you today.

Joe, how is training camp going and what are your feelings going into this big fight?

Joe Calzaghe: Everything is going well. Training camp is going excellent. Iíve been training about nine-weeks-nine-and a half weeks now and two-and-a-half weeks to go, so that makes it 12 weeks. Yeah, Iím really confident. These are the sort of fights that I want. (Unintelligible) to get this fight, you know, probably the most difficult opponent for me, but thatís what itís all about.

Iím looking for big fights, big performances, and to get there I need a fight that I get up for. Twenty-five years in boxing you have to motivate yourself meet somebody like Peter Manfredo, so these are the sort of fights that I want to fight.

My manager has been saying I can beat this guy. The opponent (unintelligible) whenever I showed up and were right for my career. Itís going to be a fantastic occasion on November 3rd and Iím looking forward to putting on a big performance.

Fred Sternburg: Joe, I know after 20 defenses, some people would think this is getting old hat. Did you envision being world champion and defending your title for the 21st time when you beat Chris Eubank 10 years ago?

Joe Calzaghe: Not really. You donít really think about it. You just want to defend it as often as possible. Somebody said in 10 years time that Iíd still be fighting as world champion, I wouldnít have believed it, because at the end of the day, (unintelligible) until I was 32 or 33. A few things thought we were going to do or not, so itís great, fantastic, longest-reigning world champion.

(Unintelligible) itís great (unintelligible) ambitions and desires. Iím still a hungry fighter. I still believe I can go on in the next month and achieve great goals, collected another new belt by beating Kessler and possibly win a light-heavyweight title as well.

Iíve always said Iíd be a lot better fighter light-heavyweight, but I want to prove it before I get too old. Thatís probably the plan. Yeah, itís great. Iím looking forward to it. Itís great to get attention, but no celebrations because Iím a master fighter (unintelligible) take care of business November 3rd.

Fred Sternburg: Thank you, Joe. Enzo, itís a pleasure to have you on. I know youíve been in Joeís corner since the beginning. What do you see Kessler bringing to this fight? What do you think you need to do in preparation for November 3?

Enzo Calzaghe: When it comes to preparation, Iíll be happy when Joe prepares his own self it doesnít matter what Kessler brings to the table. I never had (unintelligible) trainer. Twenty of his opponents, defenses heís done, Iíve never ever told him about whether a guy was a Superman (unintelligible).

If Joe comes in 100% or say even better, I donít have to worry one damn bit about whether he boxes. Because at the end of the day, Joe boxes his own fight. Kessler will be his own self, and those two together, Kessler stands no chance with Joe Calzaghe.

A different style of boxing that suits Joe better because heís boxed people like Kessler before. Ask Kessler if heís boxed anyone like Joe. I very much doubt it indeed.

Dan Rafael, Joe. Youíre on the telephone here with your dad Enzo and I was wondering, I want to ask both of you guys this question. Iíve covered boxing for a while. You see so many stories of fathers and sons that work with each other as trainer and son.

It starts off great and they maybe reach a plateau, with a championship, and then thereís dissention in the ranks and things go downhill. Itís happened so many times over the course of boxing history.

You guys seem to have never really had those issues? Maybe theyíve been hidden, but it seems to me like you guys made have made a tremendous team for the entire way through and itís been a great situation for both of you guys.

Joe, can you talk just a little bit about what it has meant to have your father in your corner training you for all these fights through your entire title reign and seemingly hassle-free in a sense.

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah. If it wasnít for my dad, I wouldnít be boxing in the first place. He (unintelligible), taught me how to box at a young age. Heís been with me from Day One and so I think itís only fair, heís made me who I am today as a fighter.

(unintelligible) I had no financial support (unintelligible) for the top sports people, so the good thing is, I didnít have to go to work. Dadís supported me so I could concentrate on my dream of one day becoming world champion, so obviously itís been a great life with my dad. Obviously heís proud and Iím proud of him for his achievements, not just for myself, but he showed what a great trainer he is with the other boys in the gym. Obviously, he knew how to train a world champion from a small gym, which is remarkable.

So yeah, itís been great, and Iím getting a bit old now (unintelligible) just hang with him for the rest of the career now and I just put up with him now.

Dan Rafael: Was there ever a time during the career where things got a little rocky between you guys and you thought maybe youíd have to make a change, or was it never reaching that point, ever?

Joe Calzaghe: No, in times, when people tried to get involved, and I was in some bad defenses and people point the finger at different people. Some press made-up things and stuff but no, not at all, really. Dadís always been there, always going to be, simple as that.

Dan Rafael: All right. Enzo, can you talk a little about that? Also, the fact that youíve been able to take Joe from an amateur to a professional champion, 20 defenses, 43 wins in 10 years of a title reign? Obviously, you have to get part of the credit for what Joe has accomplished.

Enzo Calzaghe: Yeah, I think some of the success was because of the sense of closeness that we are together. (Unintelligible) we could understand each other, we work out with each other, we can talk about it. (Unintelligible) very closer, so really, like I say, (unintelligible) to amateurs.

He was remarkable so it never actually go, we look forward to trying to change over things. Even as a person, heís really blessed by not having that particular issue to cure. The fact (unintelligible) so how we go from there.

Itís so far from Day One, from the age of nine, from the first championship fight we made at 10. Heís worked superbly. Even when he was really tired for those national titles, we never had a bitter thought.

Weíve had a bit of media slapping, of course weíve had it. (Unintelligible) itís not about winning, itís how you actually win. You just (unintelligible) to the victory and you donít (unintelligible) the way itís won.

So letís look from the age of 10, and Joe has done nothing but achieved championship and achieved championship. We are into a bunch of professionals. Weíve done it professionally and at all levels. Thereís always a little bitching, itís always going to be there.

Oh, I didnít think that my last fight was good enough. I think itís time to change the trainer. You know, you always have that, and Iíve always been up-front about these things. Itís always been, where is the media, where are the people that start saying that wasnít good enough?

Dan Rafael: Enzo, how do you balance then the fact, the dad Enzo and the trainer Enzo? Is there a separation of, you know, you leave him alone about the boxing stuff when youíre between fights and as in boxing when youíre in training camp, how do you find the line of being dad and being a trainer?

Enzo Calzaghe: Certainly. Weíve got a job to do and obviously (unintelligible). Itís definitely a relationship of father and son, obviously, fighter and boxing trainer. He respects my opinion, respects my ability, and obviously I respect Joeís ability and his opinion, so we work together very well.

I take a stake and Joe takes a stake. If itís right or wrong, we try to cure it. So really it works successful (unintelligible). Thereís a lot of bitching, and thereís not an ego trip. No oneís on an ego trip.

If something is wrong, I think Joe needs to learn two or three things extra, I will teach him. Obviously, when Joe says thereís one or two things that have actually been done bad, I will absorb it, so itís worked superbly and the proof is in the pudding.

Dan Rafael: Joe mentioned there are three champions from your gym. I know Joe is one of them, I believe Enzo Maccarinelli is another one. Who is the third champion from your gym, and what is the name of your gym?

Enzo Calzaghe: Gavin Rees, WBA super lightweight champion.

Dan Rafael: And Enzo Maccarinelli is the other?

Enzo Calzaghe: Maccarinelli is WBO champion.

Dan Rafael: And what is the name of your gym, Enzo?

Enzo Calzaghe: Itís the Newbridge Boxing Gym, run under the banner of Team Calzaghe.

Franklin McNeil, Star-Ledger: Obviously, Mikkelís coming into this fight very confident. Heís never lost a fight. How important is it to you to establish your role early and to eliminate that confidence that heís going to bring into the ring?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah, heís been undefeated for 17 years. I have equal if not more confidence in my own abilities. At the end of the day, regardless of whoís in the opposite corner, I like to perform. If I perform at my best, I believe 110% that nobody can beat me, regardless what game Mikkel Kessler brings to the table.

I believe Iím going to win. (Unintelligible) I believe Iím going to win. Iíve seen him fight, heís very good. European style, upright fighter. Very good power with either hand. What you see one tape, you see two tapes, he looks the same.

He boxes basically the same way and I believe that heís not adaptable. I donít think he looks to adapt to what I have to give him. Heís never faced anybody remotely my league as regards to my ability and also my adaptability.

Heís confident. Of course heís going to be confident. He remains undefeated so heís going to be confident but like I said, (unintelligible) on November 3rd, simple as that, like (unintelligible) is confident. Thatís my style with him, so thatís the way it is.

Franklin McNeil: This fight is also getting a lot of buildup very similar to the Jeff Lacy fight that you had. How would you compare their styles? Is this a very different type of approach for you? Was it an easier fight to prepare for or a more difficult fight to prepare for?

Joe Calzaghe: Well as regards to Kessler, I would say Kesslerís a better fighter than Lacy. Lacy is more one-dimensional and predictable. Obviously, Kessler is more a thinking fighter, heís taller. I think heís a better fighter than Lacy but Iím more confident in this fight, Iím more relaxed in the buildup to this fight than I was in Lacy fight.

I had problems going into the Lacy fight with injuries and so on. It affected me slightly, but with this fight, everything has gone smooth. Iíve been in great shape. Iím at peace and Iím looking forward to it. Itís still my time. At the end of the day, Iím 35 and obviously heís hoping Iím going to be slowing down and so on.

Franklin McNeil: One last question I have for you has to do with your reputation as a fighter. For all youíre accomplished, do you feel that youíve been appreciated worldwide, I know in Europe but even here in the States, do you feel that people have, that boxing fans have really appreciated Joe Calzaghe as a fighter and will this fight kind of remind people or open the hive to the boxing fans around the world, who Joe Calzaghe really is?

Joe Calzaghe: Well, fighting him (unintelligible) the respect is there, but itís taken years and years. If you ask me if I got the respect, well, no I havenít. Since the Lacy fight, it took a lot of years of being a champion before people finally sat up and took notice.

Iíve been champion for a long time so these things have been quite slow coming but finally, after all these years of hard work and kept plugging away, finally Iím starting to get the exposure and the respect that I think I deserved, obviously being ranked in the top 10 pound-for-pound fighter, I believe I was top 10 pound-for-pound fighter for the last 10 years. Iím only starting to get the actual recognition for it now.

Robert Morales, LA Daily News Group: Listen, so many fighters have gone on record as saying, well, Joe Calzaghe is a slap fighter, and then, itís funny because I donít think Iíve ever seen anybody get beat up the way Lacy got beat up by being slapped around.

So, what do you say to people who call you a slap fighter?

Joe Calzaghe: I know, they say basically, look at Lacyís face after a fight. He looked like heíd been run over by something, you know? All smashed up and that, and if I can slap that hard, Iím pretty happy with that.

You know, thatís pretty good. I donít really take much notice, but I suppose Ali slapped, Roy Jones slapped, all fighters slap sometimes, you know, thatís just the way it is. You throw a dozen punches in a couple of seconds, not every oneís going to be a correct punch, so to speak.
With all your power, a lot of them are going to be half-arm punches, but thatís my style. Maybe it comes across I slap sometimes, but I donít care. At the end of the day, I get the job done. Look at my record. On the day, Iím going to slap Kessler pretty hard as well.
And the good thing is, heís going into this fight thinking I canít punch. Iím really looking forward to wiping that smile off his face on fight night because both my hands have been really strong in training.

The only time that my punching power is lacking is when I break my hands or I have a hand injury, but for this fight, my hands have been strong and Iím really looking to unleash some power punching on November 3rd.

Robert Morales: Of course. Iím wondering, did you cut, you know, the Peter Manfredo fight. I know that it drew a lot of fans and it was a great crowd and everything, but I was kind of looking at your face after the fight, and you had this kind of look like, that was just too easy.

Iím wondering, did you get anything out of that fight at all other than a couple of rounds of work?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah, I was well-paid for a TV fighter, very well paid for being a TV fighter. I donít get paid overtime, so I wasnít complaining too much, but now realistically, the harder the fight, the sweeter the victory

You compare a victory against Eubank or Brewer or a victory against Lacy doesnít compare, no disrespect, to Peter Manfredo, because I knew before I got in the ring it would be an easy fight. I felt, you know, this guy, he shouldnít have really been in the ring with me.

But like I said, if thousands of fans watched it, TV cameras watched it, so Iím only a fighter. I just go and do my job.

Robert Morales: Of course, and you do it very well. Last thing. I think I read this somewhere but correct me if Iím wrong. Did you say somewhere on the record that you thought that Mikkel Kessler was probably going to be your most difficult opponent? And if thatís true, why do you think that?

Joe Calzaghe: Well basically I said potentially he could be one of my toughest opponents. So was Jeff Lacy on paper the toughest opponent, but at the end of the day, look what happened there.

I think his record speaks for himself. Heís undefeated, heís young. Heís at his peak. Heís 39-0. So of course, all the statistics add up to being potentially my toughest fight, but potentially being the toughest fight and actually being the toughest fight is two different things.

Like I said, Iím 100% confident Iím going to win this fight. This is why I picked this fight and I pushed for this fight, and I think I can do a good job on this guy.

You know, heís potentially the toughest fight of my career, but Iím hoping itís not going to be the toughest fight in my career. As long as I prepare like it is going to be the toughest, it wonít be the toughest.

Robert Morales: By the way, one very last thing. What did you think of Kelly Pavlikís performance against Jermain Taylor?

Joe Calzaghe: I thought it was an excellent performance. It was really an exciting fight and he done really well, especially after his - so a lot of credit goes to his heart and courage after such being so badly shaken in the early round and to come back the way he did, you know, it was fantastic for him.

It was very good, obviously, he established himself as the number one middleweight in the world. Who knows? Hopefully, heíll come up to super-middleweight (unintelligible) possibly fighting me after Iíve dealt with Kessler.

Chuck Johnson, USA Today: I just want to ask you, having fought your career pretty much all at home, how important is it for you to have a big fight over here in the United States?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah, Iíve always said I would like to put on a big fight in the States and fortunately there are many great fighters over there at my weight, and not many of the fighters (unintelligible).

When you add all the statistics up, (unintelligible) fight at home unfortunately, but thatís the way itís gone, but obviously, it would be great to fight somewhere like Madison Square Garden before I retire, that would be great.

I believe that Iíd have a massive following and there would be a lot of excitement for me to come over and do that, so yeah, definitely, it would probably be a disappointment for me if I was never to fight in the States.

But you know, like I said. I only want a few more fights so itíll have to happen pretty soon.

Chuck Johnson: Do you think this battle of unbeatens against Kessler is the type of fight that will raise your profile and maybe make that fight in the United States happen? Is that the intent of this fight, one of the intents?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah, definitely. This is the first time Iíve actually gone on live on HBO at prime time [9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT]. Obviously, my last two fights were recorded or live earlier in the evening.

This is actually a lot of plugs and I think thereís a lot of interest over here and obviously in America so itís so important for me to go in there and just fight my best fight, you know, show the world what I can do, and I believe Iím going to perform, put a great fight on.

Chuck Johnson: How much do you actually know about Kessler, Joe? I mean, how familiar are you with him as far as what type of fighter he is?

Joe Calzaghe: Obviously, Iíve watched him about three times. I saw his fight against Andrade.. Iíve seen most of the fight against Mundine and I saw the Beyer fight which I didnít obviously see much, so it was pretty useless.

But as I say, Iím not a person to sort of sit down for hours and hours and hours and go concise into an opponentís what he does and this. I just look through a few tapes, watch him once or twice and Iíll put them away.

I just got a general idea what his style is and thatís it. Same with Lacy, same with other fighters. At the end of the day, theyíve got to make plans for me. Iím not going to alter my style or go in there with too many plans.

I just fight the way I fight and I do my thing. I let him make a plan. At the end of the day, heís going to deal with what Iíve got to give him. I know his style. Heís an upright fighter, a straight puncher.

He likes to come out in the center of the ring. He doesnít fight good going back. He doesnít like to fight inside. So, there are two things I like to do. I like to go forward, thatís why I have to use my speed and use my angles and use my fast punching combinations.

Chuck Johnson: Does he impress you at all?

Joe Calzaghe: Oh, of course, yeah. What can I say, man? Obviously, heís a very good fighter. You canít not be impressed with him. Heís the second-best super-middleweight in the world, what can I say?

Chuck Johnson: Okay.

Joe Calzaghe: But I just say second-best.

William Hale, A question for both of you, really. How do you rate Kesslerís straight and direct punches?

Joe Calzaghe: Iíll tell you after heís thrown a couple of them. Obviously, a lot of people are making out that heís the power puncher in this fight. At the end of the day, you know, he couldnít knock out Mundine, he couldnít knock out Andrade. He threw everything except the bathroom sink.

(Unintelligible) slaps. So, Iím really looking forward to fight night, and giving that Kessler a taste of my power. You know, at the end of the day, Iíve knocked 32 or 33 out of 43 fighters out. Believe me, with two good hands, I can knock anybody out.

So like I said in the interview earlier on, my hands are good for this fight. I feel strong, powerful and like I said, he has a good jab, a good right hand. Seems like heís got good power but listen. Iíve fought power punchers in the past.

Youíre only as good as your opponent allows you to be and at the end of the day, heís not been in the ring with me yet, so weíll see if he can get those punches off as he did against Andrade. I donít think he will, and heís going to caught a hell of a lot more than he did against that clumsy Mexican guy.

William Hale: Lovely. And then, Kessler said heís being sparring Peter Haymer and he said he was slow, and Darren Barker whoís left his camp early. Who have you been sparring with down at Newbridge and how is he doing?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah, well basically, you know, listen, Iíve got the best sparring partners at the gym. Iíve got Enzo Maccarinelli, world champion, who was a cruiserweight, tall, fast hands, upright, and also unbeaten super middleweight and Nathan Cleverly), who is maybe the same (unintelligible), tall, 6-2, 6-3, and heís got very fast hands, so heís been perfect.

Great sparring at my gym. No need to sort of go and get other people in, so Iím happy with the sparring sessions Iíve been having.

William Hale: Lovely, Joe. You mentioned a few times in this conference that you feel youíre getting old and Iíve read that maybe youíve said that youíve only got three fights maximum.

You also said you wouldnít mind going up to light-heavy to get a title there. Who do you fancy up at light-heavy?

Joe Calzaghe: Itís a little bit dry up in it. Obviously, Hopkins springs to mind (unintelligible) obvious, heís been (unintelligible) off a lot lately, and Hopkins could be a big fight.

Obviously, Kelly Pavlik is the fighter that if he came up to super-middleweight (unintelligible). Obviously, I just want a few big fights, you know, people always say that Iíve only got two fights in me.

Itís not that I want to get out after two fights. I believe I can keep fighting until Iím 50. I feel like I could fight until 40, thereís no deviation in my skills, Iím as quick as ever. I think Iíd kick my ass five years ago and 10 years ago, so I feel that my best is still at the moment, Iíve still as fast as ever, Iím still feeling great shape.

I want to be one of the few fighters that retires undefeated and retires at the top and you donít get that too much these days. Fighters keep fighting and keep fighting. I donít want to end up like a Holyfield, where itís ridiculous.

Youíve fought your fight and you still want to keep coming back and you still have a dream and I feel sorry. You know, Iím a massive Holyfield and I just wish heíd retire, you know, but Ö

William Hale: You want to get things all done at once?

Joe Calzaghe: Exactly. At the end of the day, it would be a lot easier for me to pick some easy fights and keep going long, unbeaten Joe (unintelligible) easy fights, but the way I look at it, I bet off going out and fighting the big fight.

I picked the biggest fight at super-middleweight with Kessler. After this, Iíll fight the biggest fighter at light-heavyweight, probably just sit down there maybe and call it a day.

Eddie Goldman, SecondsOut Radio: Joe, you mentioned earlier in your technique, one of the things you said you have to stress is working on angles. I see a lot of boxing coverage that talk about knockouts, that talk about youíre a southpaw, theyíll talk about jabs and things like that.

I see very little discussion of angles. How important is using that in your technique?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah, of course, me being a southpaw, you have to use angles. Obviously, you stand too still, you get hit with a right hand. Iím southpaw, with my hand speed, obviously, itís no good that you donít move your legs.

This fight is all about movement, this guy likes to fight in straight lines, heís more of a straight puncher, so when I throw my combinations, itís important for me to stand off to the side and give him angles and throw punches from all different sorts of angles, hitting him so fast that he thinks heís surrounded, you know.

Eddie Goldman: How good do you think he is in that regard? We know heís a young guy, a strong guy, and has a lot of knockouts, but how good is he in terms of that technical stuff?

Joe Calzaghe: Iím not sure. Like I said, you know, he hasnít fought me. Itís difficult to say. Heís stepping up a level, you know. Like (Oren Sieneman) heís quite impressive. Heís a good fighter, what can I say, but you know, until he steps in the ring, weíll have to wait and see. Weíll see how he responds when heís taken into the deep end of the pool.

Eddie Goldman: How important do you think, also, will be the hometown advantage, not just for you, but working against him mentally, because most of his fights have been in Denmark. He did beat Anthony Mundine in Australia but almost all of his other fights, especially the big fights against the top-rated guys, have been at home for him.

Joe Calzaghe: Obviously, itís great to fight at home. Iím happy, obviously, that we managed to get this fight at home, but I didnít state that in order to make this fight happen it had to be at home in Wales. But listen, if anything, it takes less pressure off him and adds more pressure on me, because obviously, fighting in front of your home crowd, you want to make sure you do the business.

Heís got his ups and heís got his downs, but at the end of the day, the crowd canít help you. Youíve just got the referee and youíve got the two fighters in the ring, and thatís it. So regardless of where this fight is held, the best guy will win.

Eddie Goldman: And last quick thing. Do you see this fight as a chance to make a statement, not only to the fans in Europe who have seen you more, but particularly to the fans in the United States, some of whom might be seeing you for the first time?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah of course, you know, itís a great platform. Like I said before, itís great to be fighting live, itís great that itís on HBO worldwide and itís (unintelligible) and everything, so years ago this is what every fighter as youíre going up dreams of what it is to be fighting in front of 40, 50,000 stadiums, worldwide exposure.

This is what Iíve always dreamed about. Iím finally now where I wanted to be five, 10 years ago. Iím just so determined and focused to get in that ring and fight my best fight. You know, put on a performance. Like you said, show what Iím all about.

Jason Gonzalez, Joe, talk a little bit about your physical and psychological preparation that has allowed you to be champion for 10 years and be able to come into the ring and bring your A-game every time.

Joe Calzaghe: I donít know. I think maybe Iím just a boring person. I donít have anything to do with my time except fight. Iíve been fighting for 25 years of my life, man, itís sad. Itís pretty sad.

(Unintelligible). The preparation for this and at the end of the day, is why born to do it, at the end of the day I won my first British title at 13 and since then, my dream is to become a world champion one day and it just some sort, I donít know what Iíve got to say.

Iíve just always been winning championships since I won the world title against Eubank, itís something Iíve always want to do, you know, is to become a champion and stay and champion.

Iíve always had this hunger to remain undefeated and I think itís the fear of losing also, you know, I think I lost 9 or 10 amateur fights. I remember every single one of them defeats.

The last defeat was 1990, which obviously was 17 years ago in Prague in the European Junior Championships, and it took me weeks to get over that and I was back as an amateur.

So, the fear of losing drives me on and Iím a proud fighter, a proud man, and just the fear, the fear drives me and motivates me to make sure that I keep winning.

Jason Gonzalez: Thereís kind of been a pay-per-view bandwagon, so to speak, but in the last two to three months, weíve seen the best two middleweights fight each other on regular HBO and now weíre seeing the best two super-middleweights fighting on regular free HBO.

Do you think this is something of a pattern that weíre going to see on a consistent basis?

Joe Calzaghe: Well obviously, I donít get HBO and pay-per-view TV over here, so I canít really comment much on that, but obviously for the fans, itís fantastic, isnít it? And itís better for the fighters, obviously, you get a bigger audience to watch the fight. So probably, it seems like itís better for everybody.

Jason Gonzalez: Joe. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, but do you feel - on paper it certainly seems this way - but do you feel that Mikkel Kessler is going to be the best fighter that youíve ever fought in your entire career?

Joe Calzaghe: Iíll tell you after the fight. At the end of the day, on paper, he is obviously one of the toughest if not the toughest fighter. He is undefeated with two belts. He won all his fights impressively.

But yeah, this is why I picked up this fight because these are the sort of opponents I want to test myself against. There are so many world title belts around, itís a joke in boxing, and if you want to be the best, you want to beat the best.

So like I said earlier on, I think heís the second-best super-middleweight in the world, and thatís what I need to prove on that date. I canít wait for the fight. Iím ready to go. Iím ready for a war.

And on November 3rd, itís going to be I think probably the fight of the year.

Robert Morales: Hey, Joe, listen. I was wondering. What kind of a life did you have growing up as a kid, I mean, as far as the neighborhoods you grew up in? Was it a rough neighborhood? Was it the type of neighborhood where you had to prove yourself on the streets, that kind of thing?

Joe Calzaghe: Not really. Obviously, back in them days, you know, my dad and I were musicians, (unintelligible) but no, I canít really say that it was that bad. No, not at all. Not at all. I was pretty happy growing up.

Robert Morales: How and why did you get into boxing in the first place? How old were you when you had your first amateur fight?

Joe Calzaghe: I started boxing at nine. I loved football as well as boxing, and to be honest, at a nine, 10-year-old, I wanted to be a football star, to be honest.

But my dad bought me like a speed ball, like punch ball, and he took me to the boxing gym, the local boxing gym at the age of nine, and I was hooked from them on.

I realized pretty early that I had a talent for boxing. Had my first fight at 10. Actually lost my first-ever fight. The guy I lost to, a guy called (Chris Stock), and his dad was also one of the judges, so I lost my first fight.

I was beaten four times afterwards, but yeah, I lost my first-ever fight and I won my first British title at 13, so when I won my first British title, I gave up football and then I had my dream that one day I wanted to become a world champion and even through school and everything, I didnít really pay much attention in school because I had this single-mindedness that one day I was going to be world champion.

Even the teachers would laugh sometimes. What are you going to do after school, and I say, Iím going to be world champion one day, and they said no, you need to get a profession.

I said I donít need one. Iím going to be world champion and thatís the sort of single-mindedness that Iíve had since a young age, and being where I am today, the hunger, even at the age of 13 and 14 I wanted to be the best, the best fighter in the world.

Robert Morales: Well, it sounds like that single-mindedness has worked well for you. One last thing. What position did you play as a football player?

Joe Calzaghe: Midfield. Left of midfield. Iím pretty skilled for it, but a bit slow. A bit slow sprinting. Iím a lot faster in my fists than I am my feet. I run all day long, man, but donít get it too quick. In football, you need to be pretty fast but I wasnít too quick.

I never would have made it. It wasnít about (unintelligible) but I wouldnít have played for money, you can just put it that way.

Thereíd be a lot more money if I could have played football, to be honest, but you canít have it all.

Michael Woods, ESPN The Magazine: Question for you, Joe. Joe Calzaghe with good hands, no injuries in his hands, is a different fighter than one who is - the big difference between you with healthy hands and not.

Can you catalog for me all the injuries youíve had and the surgeries youíve had and - because youíve already stated that the hands are 100% for this fight, so can you catalog all the injuries and the surgeries that youíve had?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah, okay, Iíve broken my hand a couple of times, my left hand. A wrist injury, elbow injuries. I suppose after (unintelligible) fight from 1990 to the year 2000, I had three or four defenses where I couldnít spar.

Thatís with an elbow injury. I had an operation on my wrist after the [Juan]Gimenez fight [1998] , which was my second defense, I think, and that put me out for six months.

From about 14 to 15-year-old, I have a really bad, sort of dodgy left hand, so actually, from a young age, like I said, mainly my left hand.

Sometime it goes, sometimes it does not. Iíve probably fractured it about three times in fights, Robin Reid fight. Evans Ashira was a bad fracture, and basically, busted up, bruised up in a lot of fights. This is one of the things thatís boxing. At the end of the day, you put the 10 ounces on, you land a good punch, it goes.

At the moment, Iím sparring well, Iím punching out in the gym. My hands feel 100% so you canít go into any fight thinking about injuries or what you just shouldnít fight, so Iím going in there with 100% positive attitude, that Iím going to be punching 12 rounds full power.

Michael Woods: Do you ever during a fight, as youíre about to unleash a big cracker, do you ever say, ah, let me pull back on that a little bit because I donít want to break the damn hand again?

Joe Calzaghe: You canít think like that. Itís normally after you land it and go, shit, and then basically after that, you say I canít throw it again. No, to be honest, when I fought Sakio Bika, I injured my (unintelligible) in that fight to nothing, and I actually went into that fight with a bad hand.

So I think in that fight, when the scenario was there, I wasnít pulling no power at all.

Michael Woods: When was the last fight, Joe, that both your hands were good?

Joe Calzaghe: They felt good in the Lacy fight. And Manfredo, I didnít do too much work, but it was okay in the Manfredo fight. The Lacy fight was my two good hands, but ironically, I had a hand trouble two weeks before the fight, but thank God, they managed to be strong in the fight.

Michael Woods: What do they do to get them in shape? I mean, do you do acupuncture on it or do you just ice them up?

Joe Calzaghe: No, sometimes you get a cortisone injection in it, just to heal up quicker. Luckily, before that fight I went to see a doctor and he sorted it out for me. But it was actually a wrist injury before the Lacy fight.

Jerry Glick, Theyíve alluded to this in the questions along the way today about people in the light-heavyweight and the middleweight division wanting to fight you. Are you being eyed from above and from below? What do you think this says about your drawing power but that people want to fight you, or what do you think it says about you being the guy that they want to be able to beat?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah, itís great, you know, itís great for me. Itís great when the likes of somebody like Hopkins, whether heís being honest or not, heís calling me out. It makes me feel good. It makes me show that Iím one of the best, you know, one of the most popular fighters in the world now.

And obviously, this fight with Kessler, obviously, and in prime time viewing on HBO is fantastic and an excellent opportunity to showcase my skills and Kessler is a very good fighter, and I am also, so I believe itís got the ingredients to be maybe the fight of the year and I think that Iíll have a platform to go on from there and finally get a massive fight, possibly in the States, with somebody like Hopkins.

Jerry Gllick: Youíve gone from the guy that, you know, Joe Who? to pretty much the guy that built the 168-pound division. How does that make you feel?

Joe Calzaghe: It feels good. It feels about time. At the end of the day, I (unintelligible) myself, my dad, people who were close to me realized, people in this country know, Iíve been number one fighter in the super-middleweight division and unfortunately itís been a bit unfashionable division over the years.

But obviously, my longevity and being a champion for 10 years and after the Lacy performance, people finally stood up and took note that Iím one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and Iíve been that for a decade and not many fighters can say that.

Jerry Glick: Who inspired you? Somebody was talking about you starting out and what was your first fight and so forth as an amateur. Who inspired you to get into boxing?

Joe Calzaghe: Who inspired me to get into boxing? I suppose my first fight was like Hagler and Leonard. My dad was a big boxing fan as well, so a sports fan. My early memories were of watching Hagler fight and Leonard fight and they sort of the earliest fighters that made me want to become a boxer.

Fred Sternburg: Richard, I think you can address this. I understand Marvin Haglerís coming to the fight?

Richard Maynard, Sports Network: Yes, I believe Marvin Hagler is coming over to do some media work, so heíll be there on the night, so itíll be a big bonus to have a legend like Marvin Hagler there and also a big bonus for Joe as well, to see one of his heroes there.

But yeah, heíll be over, I believe, a couple of days before to do some media work and come to the fight as well.

Eduardo Ohata, Folha de S.Paulo (Brazil): Mr. Calzaghe, do you think about defending the belt 25 times like Joe Louis?

Joe Calzaghe: No, I might have mentioned, but to be honest, I donít think Iím going to be around long enough to be doing that. Yeah, Joe Louis was a great fighter, in his own right, and I feel bad to challenge it. Twenty defenses, you know, itís more important for me now to fight the big fights, and to be honest, as opposed to fight defenses, I donít really want to box in them, the way I fight maybe twice a year, that would mean me fighting for like three years, and Iím not going to be fighting in three yearsí time.

Fred Sternburg: Thank you Joe and Enzo. Saturday, November 3 at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Itíll be undefeated super-middleweight champions Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler in the mother of all world title unification fights, risking undefeated records, consecutive title defense streaks and just about every belt you can imagine on the line.

HBO will televise this super fight live in the United States at the special time of 9:00 pm east coast, 6:00 pm west coast. Weíre expecting record crowds. Millennium Stadium is scaled for an world indoor record for boxing and I believe weíre close if we havenít already surpassed Joeís record for the European indoor record already.

Weíll see you November 3rd in Cardiff, Wales, or weíll see you on HBO World Championship Boxing.

Article posted on 18.10.2007

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