Q & A With Joe Calzaghe: Calzaghe Speaks About Lacy, More
02.12.05 - By Travis Marks: Eastsideboxing.com recently caught up with the undefeated WBO super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe. During a press conference held in Gallagherís Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan, it was announced that the mega unification bout with the IBF and IBO super middleweight champion Jeff ďLeft HookĒ Lacy will finally come to fruition. Calzaghe who is coming off of a dominant unanimous decision win over Evans Ashira. A fight in which he injured his hand. The injury caused the postponement of the originally scheduled November 5th date. Calzaghe shared his thoughts with us about his career defining fight come the 4th of March.
Article posted on 02.12.2005
Eastsideboxing.com: Joe, how excited are you for this fight?
Joe Calzaghe: Obviously very excited, you know being a champion for eight years now, sometimes you need something different, a big fight to bring something out of you for you to show the world. Jeff brings that. He is a fighter on the ďupĒ, he shows tremendous punching power. He fights exciting fights. He comes to fight. I have a lot of respect for him since he is coming to the UK to fight me. But at the end of the day I believe this is my destiny. I havenít waited eight years to get a big fight just to blow it. Iím going to make sure that I am 150% on that night. If Iím at my best I will win. I donít believe this fighter is better than me. I believe that I am the legitimate world champion and this is the fight that Iím going to prove it. I am not ducking him; I believe this is my time. They obviously think that this is like a classic old champion who is been around for a long time who gives up to the young guy. But thatís not the case with me, I am a young, Iím a 23 year old in a 33-year-old body. I have been waiting for this moment to come. I want to be recognized as one of the best fighters in the world. I want pound for pound recognition, thatís something that I never got. Not because of any fault of my own but maybe because of opposition, maybe nobody was interested in the super middleweight division. Lately with the likes of Lacy and what he has been doing over here in the States he has brought excitement to the division. This fight is brilliant for the super middleweight division. This is a super fight. Everybody is in for a treat.
ESB: Do you regret taking that fight with Evans Ashira because it was the reason for the postponement of the November 5th date with Lacy?
Calzaghe: Hindsight is 20/20. At the end of the day I expected to win the fight quite comfortably. I clearly won the fight by a wide margin. I didnít realize, in fact, I donít even think my promoter Frank Warren even knew how short Ashira was. He had a crouching style and I throw fast punches in combination including a lot of uppercuts and that caused me to hit him on top of his head a few times and ďbangĒ the hand went. It could have been tragic you know at the end of the day because to go eight rounds with one hand is quite an achievement.
ESB: What does this fight mean to you?
Calzaghe: It means everything. I consider this my career defining fight. I have been waiting eight years for a fight of this magnitude; this size and I believe this is my time. This is a massive fight, a unification bout, even more than that. These are the two best fighters in the world who are hungry, and I want to win. I hope this fight brings out something in me and helps me go down in history. Iím really looking forward to this fight, it takes something like this to get me really, really excited. When you fight mandatory challengers to your title, you know guys that you know that you are going to blast out of there; you lower your standards sometimes and sink to their level, I have done that in the past. I have fought top-level opponents and I obviously have raised my game against the best. I believe this fight will bring out the best of me because I know it has to bring out the best in me, I canít afford to under perform.
ESB: There is a perception out there that you avoid fights, because there were rumored bouts with Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins that fell through. You also never fought Sven Ottke and after you postponed the Lacy fight the red flags went up again. What would you say to those detractors?
Calzaghe: Listen, Iím here in New York for the fight. Number one, this is not a money fight for me. This is not a last payday sort of fight where Iím getting massive amounts of money for the fight. Listen, Iím going to be well paid for the bout, the reason why Iím getting much more for this fight than I usually get is because this about heart, this about wanting to go down in history, this about wanting a real fight. This proves to everybody that Iím not looking for an easy fight. Iím fighting somebody who everybody says is the new best thing. I want this fight, I asked Frank Warren for this fight. That says it all. As far as the other fights go, the only one that I pulled out of was the one with Glen Johnson. Sven Ottke didnít want to fight me, Hopkins had an offer on the table and he refused, I always ask for unification fights. I beat five former world champions; itís not my fault that they didnít want to fight me when they were champions. Glen Johnson, yeah that was the one fight that I pulled out of and the reason why I did that is because I had back spasms the week before the fight and I couldnít walk for two days. And believe me; no one was more disappointed than myself. It hurts when people slight you off because Iím a champion at the end of the day and thatís a lot to put up with. But Iím stepping up against a top fighter and that match will show people what Iím all about.
ESB: What do you know about Jeff Lacy the fighter?
Calzaghe: He is a strong, aggressive fighter. He is a big puncher but heís a ďcome forwardĒ fighter and I love that. I always seem to struggle against fighters who go backward. Jeff loves to come in and try to knock fighters out and I believe his style is made for me.
ESB: Does Jeff run the risk of underestimating you because he might think you are reluctant to fight him since the fight was postponed a few times?
Calzaghe: I donít understand where that perception that Iím reluctant comes from. Cause at the end of the day, this is not a fight that is being forced upon me. This is a fight that I want, a fight that Iím confident that Iíll win. I hope he does underestimate me but I donít think he will. Obviously Gary Shaw talks a lot of sh*t. Heís been mouthing off, he doesnít have to go in the ring, and he just sits down eating pastries and gets fat. Iíll to have to take it out on Jeff. Heís coming to the UK, heís very confident but all I know is that heís never fought a fighter me. Come March 4th it will be a great fight.
ESB: If victorious, do you have long-term plan or are you not even thinking about life after Lacy?
Calzaghe: To be honest, after winning this fight I canít see a reason for staying in the division. I have achieved everything in the super middleweight division. I have been champion for eight years and if I was to beat Lacy, if I decided to stay at this weight what would be the point? There probably wonít be much around. That would maybe be a perfect moment to leave the division as perhaps one of the best, if not the best super middleweight champion ever. That would be the icing on the cake. I would look at the light heavyweight division. You have Antonio Tarver out there and other big fights. It has always been my goal to be a two-division champion. Not many fighters have accomplished this feat. I feel this would be a natural progression for me to step up. I think itís a great division and maybe I would be stronger fighter at that weight.
ESB: You showed a lot in the fight with Byron Mitchell after he knocked you down. How does that experience help you in a fight with a power puncher like Lacy?
Calzaghe: I think it was a great experience to have gone down that fight because I always thought I was indestructible. I used to come into fights with my hands down and I thought my chin was actually made of iron because I had never been down as an amateur. I have never even been down in the gym or in the pros. That was a wakeup call but I was proud of the way I reacted. Itís not all about going down; itís about your recovery and how you respond. Lucky for me my head cleared quickly and I was proud of myself for coming back and dropping him and then winning the fight. That was my proudest moment in boxing.
ESB: How do you think the public will view you if you are victorious and do you care?
Calzaghe: I just want to finally get respect. Iím due; I think I am one of the best pound for pound. I should be in the top ten. I think this fight will put me in the top ten and finally people will recognize me.
ESB: Anything you would like to say in closing?
Calzaghe: There will be fireworks on March 4th. I think this fight will bring the best out of me. Itís going to be sweet.
On behalf of Eastsideboxing.com we would like to wish Joe Calzaghe the best of luck on March 4th.
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