Calzaghe Versus Bika – Marking Time

13.10.06 - By Neil Goodman: Saturday 14th October; Joe Calzaghe defends his WBO Super Middleweight belt for the 19th time. With Calzaghe’s a reign now in its 9th year, he has yet to come close to defeat and now has the added bonus of being the IBF belt holder to boot.

So will the Welsh dragon breathe fire in defence of his two title belts? Well, if history is anything to go by, ‘No’ is the simple answer. The likely course of events is that Joe will come out all guns blazing and stamp his authority on proceedings. At this point the challenge will either lose his appetite for a scrap; or, Calzaghe will aggravate one his many niggles and therefore will seek to coast home via the scorecards and another lopsided win on points. Do I sound cynical? Well, I do not mean to be. I am big Calzaghe fan and I have seen him box on many occasions. He has developed into great boxer-fighter and I do not use the word ‘great’ lightly. Joe has stopped 75% of opponents and the other 25% have generally been beaten on points (in convincing fashion).

The only exception to the stats is Robin Reid who managed to make an argument of things, courtesy of his right hand bombing. Joe took several huge whacks on the beard that night, but managed to emerge the winner.

Calzaghe made the leap into world championship class beating a still lively Chris Eubanks and he subsequently gone onto add another 6 former world champions onto his roster. Since that entertaining encounter Joe has shown speed, boxing skills, stamina and even resilience. Joe ticked the final box on the check sheet, when having been heavily decked by Byron Mitchell, he got off the floor to finish off his foe in the second round.

Despite the skills, power, defences and title belts, there are those who still doubt the star quality Calzaghe brings to the table. A vast proportion of the naysayers fell silent when Joe gave the highly touted Jeff Lacy a twelve round trouncing; but should Calzaghe fail to reach the heady heights of that performance in March against Bika then critics will once3 again have their daggers out.

The trouble for Calzaghe is; is that everyone knows this is fight which has the sole purpose of marking time. Bika is a credible opponent and the record looks reasonable, but the seriousness of the threat he poses is questionable. For Joe this fight keeps him active and is one which should bridge the gap between Lacy and the next mega-fight. In theory, within every fight, there is an element of risk after all it only takes one punch or a momentary lost concentration. However, Joe has been once bitten (by Kabary Salem) before and with big money just round the corner he will know the importance of limiting any potential risks to a minimum.

To be honest, whilst Bika is not ‘A’ grade opposition; why is the fight being staged in Manchester? I attended Calzaghe versus Lacy and there were plenty of space seats; surely it would have made more sense for Joe to have performed in front of his countrymen i.e. at the CIA Arena?!

Prediction: I hope Joe has got himself motivated for this fight, if Joe is mentally right then the rest will take care of itself. We can only hope Bika made it successfully through customs with his ambition intact.

For my money I would have preferred to have seen Joe either in a competitive ten rounder (non-title bout), or, alternatively he could have tested the Light Heavyweight waters. With a move up in weight imminent, this would have made more sense, as opposed to pounding on guy who has spent most of his time campaigning as a middleweight.

With tomorrow nights proceedings out of the way, hopefully, the New Year will bring Calzaghe the next step on the pathway to cementing his legacy. I will leave you with this thought; how about Calzaghe’s twentieth title defence being against a certain other boxer who so almost made it 20 out of 20 in the middleweight division?

Article posted on 14.10.2006

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