Nigel Benn: "Calzaghe Might Have Beaten Me." - ***ITV Press Release***

11.10.06 - In an exclusive new documentary for ITV4, Calzaghe: No Average Joe, former super-middleweight dons Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank are reunited and say that Joe Calzaghe might have beaten them if he fought in their era.

Examining the career and achievements of the longest reigning current world champion, No Average Joe speaks candidly to Joe and those close to him, as well as the top figures from the world of boxing including: Frank Warren, Don King, Sugar Ray Leonard, Wladimir Klitschko, Ricky Hatton, Thomas Hauser, Gary Shaw, Ron Borges, Jay Larkin and Kery Davis.

The documentary also includes never-seen-before footage behind the scenes at the Calzaghe-Lacy fight and of Joe fighting as a young amateur.

Asked whether Joe Calzaghe would have beaten Benn, Eubank, Collins and other greats from the era, Nigel Benn said:

“Maybe so, maybe so.”

“I actually feel we would have seen the best of [Calzaghe] if he’d have came around in our era.”

“He might have beaten us all, who knows, we’ll never know.”

Chris Eubank said:

“It’s unfortunate for Joe that hasn’t had an opponent who is of equal stature in order to have someone to bounce off of in the public eye.

Another personality in which to cause the friction, which Nigel Benn and I had, so it’s unfortunate for him, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles I guess.”

“Calzaghe is the proper article, a true warrior.”

Frank Warren, Joe Calzaghe’s promoter, said:

“Joe Calzaghe at his prime and all of those guys at their prime – including Steve Collins and Roy Jones – he would have beaten them.”

Joe Calzaghe responded:

“Benn/Eubank they had fantastic fights. Benn and Eubank were on a par – that’s why they had fantastic fights. If Benn was better than Eubank where would the rivalry be?

“People love to see a war; they like to see a 50:50 fight, and I haven’t been in many 50:50 fights because I’m so far ahead of my opponents.”

Also in the film, Joe Calzaghe reveals that he would go to fight in America, if he could face Bernard Hopkins.

Asked what would be his ideal next fight, Joe said:

“Ideally I would love to fight Bernard Hopkins – he’s a true champion.”

Asked where, Joe said:

“If that was to happen, I would go to America.”

“Of course I’d love to fight in America, but if it’s right. If it’s right for me and I get the right opponent.”

Leading voices from the American boxing scene praise IBF and WBO super-middleweight world champion Joe Calzaghe and call for him to fight in the United States.

Boxing legend and presenter of the The Contender, Sugar Ray Leonard said:

“When Joe Calzaghe beat Jeff Lacy he pretty much shocked the boxing establishment, even yours truly. I didn’t think Joe could beat him.”

"I think he has to come over here, without question, for the American fans to gravitate towards him and so they know who Joe Calzaghe is.”

Kery Davis, Senior Vice President of HBO Sport said:

“If we can get Joe Calzaghe in a big enough fight and do it in the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden I think many British fans will follow him, and that would be quite a spectacle here in New York.”

“You never get a second opportunity to make a first impression.”

Jay Larkin, former Showtime boxing chief said:

“There’s no question Joe would be embraced because of his skill; his ring skill and his courage. He is a perfect matinee idol champion.”

Gary Shaw, promoter, said:

“Him fighting over in England is just a commercial. He needs to come over here and let the people touch him, see him, speak to him.”

Thomas Hauser, award-winning US boxing writer, said:

“What Joe Calzaghe and his fans have to understand is that a perfect record doesn’t make a perfect fighter. If you want to be recognised as a great fighter you come here to prove it against another great fighter.”

Wladimir Klitschko, IBF world heavyweight champion, said:

“United States, New York, Madison Sqaure Garden, is the mecca of boxing. Max Schmeling, when he used to be alive, said to my brother and me: ‘Guys, if you want to make your way you have to get it in the US.’”

Filmed as he trained towards his latest fight against Cameroon’s Sakio Bika, Joe Calzaghe speaks in the film of his great disappointment at not being selected for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic squad:

“The Olympics…..I got screwed out of that didn’t I. That’s the biggest disappointment of my career.”

“Look at Amir Khan. He didn’t win a gold, he got a silver medal. Look at the way his career has taken off. Look at all that could have happened if that little thing of being selected and going to the Olympics.”

“As far as I’m concerned I would have won a gold medal, at least a silver. If I’d won the gold medal then obviously with a gold medal the world’s your oyster. That won thing has been taken away, I wasn’t even given a chance.”

Joe, his father and trainer Enzo and figures close to the boxer also speak of the early days in Calzaghe’s career as he started off in the sport and moved through the amateur and professional ranks.

Pam Scourfield, a former teacher of Joe’s from Newbridge, Wales, spoke of how Joe was the victim of bullying during his school years:

“He was bullied at one stage when he was here. They were a group of boys who wanted to see him fighting in the school yard. And obviously he knew that if that happened, then any further chances of success within his profession were going to be halted at that stage. But there were a group of boys that tried to make him fight.”

Speaking of his school days, Joe said:

“I didn’t enjoy comprehensive school. I went there and I just really didn’t get on there.“

“You know it’s just one of those things. I’ve still got some good memories at the end of the day. It’s all part of the experience of life.”

On getting into boxing, Joe Calzaghe said:

“I was meant to be a fighter. I wanted to be a footballer when I was ten, I wanted to play for Juventus, but my hands were my gift not my feet.”

Tony Burns, Repton Boxing Club, said:

“Joe was just about the best I’ve ever seen.”

Enzo Calzaghe said:

“He won the British ABAs which is a dream for any kid. And then the second year after, what happens, he wins it again. The year after, he wins it again. And, let’s be honest about it, you could see he was something special then – very special.”

Joe Calzaghe also speaks of his eagerness to get back into the ring for his next fight and talks about his desire to secure his place in boxing history and be one of sport’s greats.

Speaking a week ahead of his fight with Sakio Bika, Joe said:

“I’m excited. The Lacy fight has gone now. I’m eager to fight and I miss it.”

Enzo Calzaghe said:

“Jeff Lacy had something to protect. This guy [Bika] has nothing to protect – he’s out to take what he can get. So let me tell you, they’re more dangerous cats than anyone else.”

Speaking about his legacy, Joe said:

“I just want to be among the top fighters, the greatest in the sport. I think the most ever defences is Joe Louis – 25. This is my 20th. I have a realistic chance of creating history.”

“I think that I haven’t been given the recognition for me being so good. Maybe if I wasn’t so good, maybe I would have had a rival. Maybe I haven’t got a rival because I’m so far ahead of the others.”

“I am a legitimate world champion and a nine-year reign world champion and I’m aiming to go for a decade as a world champion, so you tell me, where does that put me in boxing?

That’s for the public to decide. When I finish and retire from boxing we’ll see if someone else is going to reign for a decade as world champion and then you make up your own decision.”

Calzaghe: No Average Joe will be broadcast on Thursday 12 October at 10.00pm on ITV4.

Calzaghe: No Average Joe is produced and directed by Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna for ITV Sport Productions.

Big Fight Live: Calzaghe v Bika will be broadcast live on Saturday 14 October from 9.45pm to midnight on ITV1.

Article posted on 11.10.2006

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