Calzaghe & Maccareneli make US foray

21.10.06 - By Mark Pickering: Despite failing to enhance his ever-exceeding reputation on Saturday, Joe Calzaghe touches down in America today as an unbeaten double champion, buoyed by the customary jingoism of his stateside foes.

While a convincing win was the mandate, the Newbridge man endured a frustrating evening in Manchester, forcing a hard fought points victory over the durable yet unheralded Sakio Bika.

Nonetheless, the win was distinctly palatable to Frank Warren, whose animated face in the closing rounds served as a pointed reminder to the unexpectedly bruising nature of Calzaghe’s 19th title defence..

The Pride of Wales, along with compatriot and stable mate, WBO world cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccareneli, will attend a press conference in New York on Tuesday.

"This is an excellent chance to build their profile further in the US after last week's wins got great figures on TV there," said promoter Frank Warren-

Calzaghe, who had six stitches taken out on Friday from an injury sustained by a Bika head-butt, declared his interest in facing the retired Bernard Hopkins in February, albeit with a sense of reluctance at luring the big-name American back into the squared circle.

Former middleweight king Hopkins, 41, who retired in June after jumping two weight classes to upset light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, rather, is entertaining the idea of fighting WBC Heavyweight Champion Oleg Maskaev in 2007, having enlisted the assistance of famed fitness guru Mackie Shilstone to asses his chances of beating The Big O.

Hopkins publicly cited a bout with Wales’ 168-pounder as a step backwards, opting for a showdown Heavyweight Champ Maskaev.

“I cannot get the satisfaction or gratification fighting Calzaghe”, Hopkins told ESPN.

“That's not a bigger fight than me beating the heavyweight champ of the world”.

However, the most prudent step would be for Calzaghe to conclude his relationship with the super middleweight division with a unification bout against Denmark’s WBA & WBC Champ Mikkel Kessler, a move the Welshman has been discernibly muted on.

Kessler, who outclassed German contender Markus Beyer last weekend, has as anticipated outlined his intentions to face South Wales’ WBO & IBF super middleweight world champion.

His veteran promoter Mogens Palle has branded a would-be match-up with Calzaghe as a bout the public are demanding and claimed a super middleweight unification battle could take place in February or March.

Meanwhile, newly crowned WBO cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli, who dispatched former champ Mark Hobson in 71 seconds, is understandably relishing the opportunity to compete alongside his countryman in America.

Swansea’s Maccarinelli has boldly named Jamaica’s WBC & WBA titlist O'Neil Bell, who’s universally recognised as the number one cruiserweight, as his next target.

"I think Enzo has the potential to become a real star as well because he is so exciting to watch”, said Warren.

"He's one of the best punchers in the world and a really nice guy to boot, and now is his chance to kick on from the win over Mark Hobson."

The Welsh duo will attend the WBO annual convention in Miami on Monday, where Calzaghe is expected to receive an award, as they look to adhere themselves to the American public and score lucrative Stateside clashes.

Article posted on 21.10.2006

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