Joe Calzaghe: The Movie
No, not a rubbish Welsh movie, starring Tom Jones. Just the fact that Joe Calzaghe’s career has been scripted to such an extent, that his resume probably has done the rounds at MGM and TimeWarner, before being tossed in the trash.
If there is an example of a more timid world champion, then I haven’t seen him. To update, briefly, Calzaghe won the WBO in 1996, beating Chris Eubank. He was originally lined up to face the holder Steve Collins until the Celtic Warrior blew out his knee, which ended his career.
Step up the old, exposed Eubank, at two weeks notice out of retirement, to face Calzaghe, in an eliminator. Calzaghe eked past Eubank, to pick up the belt, but not without a fair amount of trouble.
This is the same Chris Eubank who was beaten very soundly by Collins two years previously. And the same Steve Collins who pretty much lost to every decent fighter he faced, until he found a niche in ending the career of shot Brit legends. You do the math.
Calzaghe wasn’t a very good fighter in 1996. And I seriously doubt he would have bothered any of the other world champions of the time – Jones (massacre) Reid (lost to him a year later…) or Liles. In short, he was gifted a belt by the WBO Father Christmas: Frank Warren.
What went on to go on what can only be described as one of the more awful run of opponents in the history of the sport. After (more than likely losing) facing Reid, it was Thornbury, Starrie, Sheika, Woodhall, Veit, Mcintyre, Brewer, Jiminez, Pudwill, Mitchell, Salem, Veit (the worlds most pointless rematch), and Ahisra.
Only three of those opponents made a ring top 10 list for the weight. None of them made a top three. Guys like Mitchell and Brewer had already lost to the equally hopeless Ottke when Calzaghe faced them!
So not only was Calzaghe sitting pretty in a poor division. He really wasn’t facing the best of it either. You won’t see a Mundine, Larsson, Ottke, or Johnson on his record. The guys ranked around him. Humorously, Ottke faced and beat them all! So Calzaghe’s level of opposition pre 2006, was a step below Sven, in truth. And that’s a bad place to be.
He finally takes on a current world champion in the stupidly over-hyped Lacy, and wins another belt. Does the same with Kessler, but not a comfortable experience. Edges past him, after a difficult first six rounds.
Calzaghe hid at 168, for a long long time. It was a poor division, with no stars, that he could lord over. He was very happy being “the man”, even though being “the man” at 168 in the noughties was equivalent of being the richest guy in some Kazakhstan village. Sure, you’ve got the biggest donkey and the strongest wife, but who cares when guys in the States are driving round in hummers.
His stay was simple. Hopkins was below. Roy Jones was above. And he didn’t fancy getting involved with either. As both in truth were at another level at the time. They were polishing PFP trophies, and unifying divisions, while Joe was wondering which WBO mandatory to take.
He was much happier “calling them out” from the comfort of his Swansea living room.
Yeah, Jones vs. Calzaghe was likely, when Joe’s making 200k a bout, against Tocker Pudwill, at Cardiff Ice Rink. Call him out anyway, and have the “moral high ground”.
In truth, Joe did nothing to get any big fight. He never faced anyone of enough quality to put him in line. Pulling out of a Glen Johnson bout, three times in two years probably isn’t a fighter wanting to take risk, to make a name of himself. He didn’t do anything to make himself more “valuable” in PPV revenue.
And he didn’t even go into their weight divisions. He just sat in 168, with his WBO belt, calling out the big boys. Probably as successful as Junior Witter trying to tempt Floyd Mayweather out of retirement, with the promise of a $2 million Pay Day and a sell out of the Bolton Civic Centre.
Now the script takes another turn. He’s 35 and hasn’t fought anyone of note. You're 35 and your biggest fight is Jeff Lacy. That’s got to suck. “I know, Hopkins is 43 and past his best, and Jones is shot – why not fight them now?”
So that’s what he does. He takes on the guys he spent a career staying out of the way of, at maybe 50 percent of their powers. The script doesn’t go to plan though, as all he achieved versus Hopkins is showing the world that he probably wasn’t in his class in the first place.
Hopkins at 43, nearly beats a primed Calzaghe. Screw that, he probably did beat him. What on earth would he have done as p4p No. 1 in his late 30s?
Sorry, but this chipmunk has no love for Stay at Home Joe. I find the entire career cynical. A guy who didn’t want to take any risks against the Hopkins, Jones, Johnsons, Pavliks when they were primed. He’d rather just sit at home in Swansea, calling them out from the comfort of his arm chair.
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