Did Joe Calzaghe Win New Fans?

Joe CalzagheBy “Old Yank” Schneider: Does a fighter exist that has had more difficulty winning American fans then Joe Calzaghe? He began his amateur career at the age of nine and fought in 120 contests before turning pro – winning all but a few. He amassed a professional record of 45-0 with 32 KO’s. He claimed victories over very good competition. He took on all comers at super middleweight with perhaps only one or two missing names.

He is ranked on most credible top-10 pound-for-pound lists in the top 5. In the very rarefied air of 20 or more successful title defenses, he ranks in the top 3 of all-time. Yet he has been maligned by American fans as being coddled and protected by rarely leaving the UK to fight and for never stepping foot in the USA to fight. Did his victory over the cagey veteran Bernard Hopkins help him finally win over some new fans?

American fans are a tough lot. It is about as easy to get an American boxing fan to change his opinion as it is to pry a ham hock out of the grip of a pit bull terrier. Enough already! There is a difference between tough and just plain stubborn. What is it that Joe Calzaghe has left to prove to anyone? If his win over the living legend named Bernard Hopkins is not enough, then what will it take?

We’ve all heard the American excuses for disrespecting Calzaghe; his competition was soft; he lacked the courage to fight in the USA; Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy (the man who was widely expected by US fans to KO Calzaghe early) was one-dimensional; Mikkel Kessler was a typical over-rated Euro fighter; and, of course, Roy Jones, Jr. (in spite of being in a different weight class when any potential opportunity could have presented itself), would have made Calzaghe look like an amateur.

I invite readers to add disrespectful missives that I overlooked to the list.

We are bound to hear new trash being piled on as Calzaghe brings his career to a close. By the time you read this article how many times will an American boxing fan have said, “Hopkins was an old man and Calzaghe’s win proves nothing”? And the disrespect will continue with statements like, “Calzaghe built a career fighting bums and now he’s ending his career climbing in the ring against spent, past-it, has-beens”. And the stubborn will say, “Big deal, with only one USA fight Calzaghe now probably believes that he deserves to fight Roy Jones, Jr. at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales”. Or, how about this one, “Calzaghe will never find the courage to fight Chad Dawson”.

Again, I invite readers to pile on to the disrespectful missives of the past with all the nonsense that you can come up with for what the future holds for Joe Calzaghe.

Enough! There are many Calzaghe fans from all over the world that have used their eyes, rather then relying on a brail-like read of his resume, to arrive at the conclusion that this is an all-time great fighter. Are you ready to join them as a Calzaghe fan?

Article posted on 21.04.2008

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