Is Joe Calzaghe Finished?

04.12.04 - By Daniel Baguley: With all the big fights that are occurring at the moment one would be forgiven for forgetting about a certain Welsh, undefeated super middleweight who, for whatever reason, the big fights are not occurring for. I am, of course, talking about WBO beltist Joe Calzaghe. Now, I’m not about to start bad mouthing the people that take care of the Welsh firebrands career. I think most boxing fans can, and have, formed their own opinion on Frank Warren’s promotional tactics and motives. I’m here to discuss where Joe could and should go from here.

I think it’s fair to say that he is rightfully considered the number one of the division despite what the various alphabets say, but it’s also fair to say that other fighters in the division are catching up to him and if he chooses to stay at super middle he may have to defend his right to hold that accolade. Boxing politics and stubborn promoters prevented a fight with long reigning IBF champion Sven Ottke occurring which, although I believe Joe would have won, was a shame for us fans as the fighters were huge in their respective countries. Although the fight wouldn’t have meant much to an American audience it would have been quite an event for boxing followers in Europe.

Anyway it didn’t happen so now I look to the man who, since Ottke’s departure from the sport, has picked up the vacant IBF crown and has been making waves in the division despite his relatively short career. Jeff Lacy has reeled off seventeen wins since making his debut in the February of 2001 and has won fourteen of those by way of stoppage. A fight between the two would be very good for the division and would be great for raising Joe’s profile in the States that he has, as of yet, failed to do. Although this could hardly be considered a “super fight” it would certainly be a better match up than the one being touted for February for Joe against Mario Veit, a man he KO’d in a round over three years ago. His hand is apparently being forced because the WBO have the German as their “interim” champ and unless Joe faces him he will be stripped.

I don’t think Joe should allow himself to be dictated to by the parasitic WBO and should follow the example’s of Antonio Tarver and Glencoffe Johnson in discarding their worthless alphabet’s in pursuit of bigger things. What does Mario Veit offer to Joe except maybe another early blow out, which could incite boo’s, or a frustrating night like one’s against Miguel Jimenez where he fails to impress? If the fight with “Left Hook” can be made it should be made now or Joe should leave the division and make his move to light heavy as previously planned. It would appear to me that Joe doesn’t want to make his move up unless it’s to fight one of the big names, which is fair enough, but if he took a few bouts there against quality opposition it may consolidate his position and actually stake his claim better than remaining at super middle and battering outclassed opponents.

There are plenty of alphabets at light heavy up for grabs since Tarver and Johnson ditched theirs and plenty of opportunity for Joe if he was to, maybe, compromise just a little. His reluctance to fly doesn’t help his cause but a trip to America would do him a power of good or there’s even a European opening with WBO champ Zsolt Erdei.
There are countless other names I can throw into the hat but it’s ultimately Joe’s choice now. He’s getting on and, as his last opponent proved, isn’t immune to slip up’s when getting floored by the little known Kabary Salem. Add this to his knockdown courtesy of Byron Mitchell and you could even make an argument for him being on the slide. He needs a big fight now or he may just end up retiring without showing us his true worth.

Article posted on 04.12.2004

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