29.05.06 – by Neil Thompson: Joe Calzaghe has a big fight coming up in 6 weeks at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales but still no opponent has been named. An offer has already been made to Peter Manfredo (the likeable yet limited finalist from the Contender series) but thankfully he priced himself out. There have been other names mentioned but for one reason or another the opponent has ruled himself out or been rejected..
Calzaghe’s promoter tried to get an old William Joppy (the faded former Middleweight champion) but thankfully HBO came to the rescue and refused to approve the match up. So who will be Calzaghe’s next opponent, with only 6 weeks to go they are cutting things rather fine. My biggest fear for Joe Calzaghe is that Sports Network will once again try to arrange another Tocker Pudwill or another Will McKintrye type of opponent and completely ruin all the positive momentum Calzaghe career has seen since his one sided victory over Jeff Lacy.
The last article I wrote on Joe Calzaghe was titled ‘Calzaghe v Lacy – Will History Repeat itself’ in which I equated this fight to the Benn v McClellan fight. I stated that Calzaghe would surprise every one from America and beat Lacy, just as Benn surprised everyone against McClellan all those years ago. I was proved right, Joe won a lop-sided decision. Now after 8 years as champ and 18 defences, Calzaghe is still the longest reigning alphabet champion in Boxing today and he is also the first ever holder of the more important Super Middleweight RING Magazine Championship belt. So who will be the new opponent? Will Joe end up fighting some undeserving ‘no-name’? Or will he fight a recognised and respected fighter just as Sports Network promised he would?
With only 6 weeks to go who can they get to fight Calzaghe on such a big occasion on such short notice? Well one, highly respected, fighter could come to the rescue, a fighter who holds a grudge against Calzaghe, a fighter who has beaten Roy Jones and has beaten the current IBF light heavyweight weight champ Clinton Woods, as well as the current TRUE World Light Heavyweight Champion Antonio Tarver …… Mr Glen Johnson.
Joe Calzaghe and Glen Johnson have a history and do not like each other. Johnson is still angry that Calzaghe backed out of their proposed fight in 2004. For that failed fight, Johnson had trained hard, was ready and confident he could defend his light heavyweight alphabet championship against the long reigning super middleweight champion coming up in weight. However Calzaghe had marital and injury problems forcing him to postpone the fight, Glen Johnson was furious and called Calzaghe a ‘coward’ and pulled out all together. Ironically, this was the making of Johnson as Roy Jones came in with a better offer to challenge Johnson. Glen surprised everyone by knocking out Jones. This earned Johnson a crack at the TRUE 175 lb Championship against Antonio Tarver and Johnson again upset the odds to take Tarver’s title. Although Tarver gained revenge by outpointing Johnson in the rematch it was only a narrow points win in a very boring contest. Now Johnson is without a title but is still considered by most, as the second best light heavyweight in the world today. Both Johnson and Calzaghe need a big fight and therefor need each other.
HBO and Sport Network have asked Johnson if he will fight Calzaghe in 6 weeks and Johnson has accepted providing they can they can meet his one demand ….. Johnson wants his money up front. I think this is an acceptable offer, especially when Johnson is willing to come in at 6 weeks notice. Should this fight come off, it will be a catch-weight contest between 168 and 175 lb’s and will be a 12 round non-title fight.
This will be a good match up of styles, Calzaghe loves to fight ‘come-forward’ boxers and Johnson is not as one-dimensional as the inexperienced Jeff Lacy. Johnson will cause Clazaghe problems and will be competitive all the way but I have to go with Calzaghe to win on points. Glen Johnson is a world class light heavyweight but Joe Calzaghe is easily the best super middleweight since the heyday of the great Roy Jones. Calzaghe will use his speed, movement and dazzling combination to confuse and frustrate Johnson. Johnson will have his success and will keep it a close contest throughout, but for me, Joe wins this in style. I would never completely write off Glen Johnson’s chances though as he proved everyone wrong against Jones and Tarver and he’ll fully expect to do the same here. However, I doubt he’ll be able to do the same against Calzaghe, who is at his peak. If Calzaghe wins he’ll have a choice of going back down to 168 to defend his belts or he’ll be in the perfect position to challenge Antonio Tarver’s light heavyweight World Championship belt (providing he gets past Hopkins) or a mouth watering domestic clash against IBF Champ Clinton Woods. Either way Joe Calzaghe needs Glen Johnson. Therefore HBO and Sports Network Promotions need to arrange this fight and give in to any demand Glen Johnson has. If Calzaghe doesn’t get a respected name for his opponent for such a big event, as this will be, he will lose respect. We were all led to believe the Lacy fight would be the making of Calzaghe and that his career would take off on both sides of the pond. Joe needs a suitable opponent to continue his growing reputation as one of the sport’s pound for pound top boxers. A Glen Johnson fight is another step in the right direction.