ON BOXING: Calzaghe should step down " for himself
November 12, 2008
Light heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe hasn’t lost a fight since 1990, when he was an 18-year-old amateur.
Now 46-0 with 32 knockouts as a professional, it is time for the 36-year-old Calzaghe to call it quits.
Not because I say so. Not because HBO’s Jim Lampley says he should avoid young hotshot “Bad” Chad Dawson (like it’s a sure loss for Calzaghe if he doesn’t). And not because he still can’t get it done.
The reason “The Prince of Wales” should retire is contained in an article written by Oliver Holt of the Daily Mirror (visit http://www.mirror.co.uk/sports). By his own account, Calzaghe has hated the sport of boxing for a while now and had to have his father and trainer, Enzo Calzaghe, get on his back to train properly for Bernard Hopkins and, most recently, Roy Jones Jr., against whom he shined Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Calzaghe has nothing left to prove, unless of course you happen to be HBO’s Max Kellerman, who believes that Dawson is the second coming of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Only one more fight against Dawson, opines Kellerman, THEN Calzaghe can say he beat every name fighter in his generation.
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That would almost be true, but if Calzaghe beat Dawson next year in a going-away fight in Cardiff, Wales, someone else would say he never beat Glen Johnson. Former light heavyweight champion Johnson gave Dawson all he could handle, has beaten Antonio Tarver once and knocked out Jones in the ninth round.
And there would be others in Europe who would bring up WBO light heavyweight titlist Zsolt Erdei. The Germany-based Hungarian is, after all, 29-0.
Still others would feel Calzaghe needs to give Hopkins a rematch, since the judges and some pro-American media feel that their fight was closer than it really was.
Then WBA beltholder Mikkel Kessler, whom Calzaghe beat last year, will say he’s improved and deserves a rematch.
England’s Clinton Woods, a former light heavyweight beltholder, will cite a territorial feud as his justification for a shot at Calzaghe, who by the time he beat all these would-be challengers, would be inclined to face Tarver, who just got beat up by Dawson.
Tarver, after all, is a big name and has twice beaten Jones, once by knockout.
If he listens to anyone but his family and himself, Calzaghe would never find a reason to retire until he is eventually beaten.
Heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, who set the standard for champions who retired with perfect records (he was 49-0) could’ve listened to various reasons to hang around for No. 50, 51 and so on until he finally lost.
But rather than hang around and face Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson, Nino Valdez, Bob Baker, Bob Satterfield, former light heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano or an up-and-coming Floyd Patterson, “The Rock” called it a day when he was 33.
Some say it was because Marciano had a bad back. Others claim it was because he got tired of getting ripped off by his manager, Al Weill, who took 50 percent of Marciano’s purses ” before taxes.
But whatever his reason, Marciano chose to hang up his gloves rather than chase 50-0, a number Calzaghe has said for some time doesn’t interest him.
Even at 50-0, Calzaghe would never garner the respect of Marciano, who was a heavyweight. Although like Calzaghe he was of Italian descent, Marciano was also American, which is why Calzaghe, of Newbridge, Wales (he was born in Italy), has yet to receive the credit he is due.
Rather than make Calzaghe look like a coward if he indeed chooses to retire instead of facing IBF strapholder Dawson, maybe the HBO boys could’ve put it this way.
Before moving up to light heavyweight and beating Hopkins and Jones, Calzaghe defended his super middleweight belt a division record-tying 21 times.
Let’s not forget that Hopkins defended his middleweight title 20 consecutive times and that the man who shares the super middleweight title defense record with Calzaghe ” Sven Ottke, who retired 34-0 ” would never agree to a unification bout.
It would also be instructive to remember that Jones won titles at 160, 168 and 175 pounds, not to mention at heavyweight.
The guy Calzaghe beat to win the 168-pound belt he never lost? Two-division titlist Chris Eubank, who once defended his WBO super middleweight strap 14 times.
In addition to Hopkins, Jones and Kessler (was 39-0 when he faced “The Italian Dragon”), Calzaghe defeated other former and reigning champions as well. There was Robin Reid, Richie Woodhall, Charles Brewer, two-time titlist Byron Mitchell and Jeff Lacy.
Before he was completely shut out by Calzaghe, Lacy, it must be remembered, was being likened by most of the American media to a 168-pound version of Mike Tyson.
Maybe it would be wise to let Dawson accomplish what Calzaghe has before anointing him The Man.
Dawson will never reach 46-0. He already screwed that up by having his 2004 victory over Aundalen Sloan turned into a no-decision by testing positive for a banned substance in a post-fight urinalysis.
But let’s not split hairs. All the 26-year-old Dawson has to do first to make a good argument that Calzaghe ducked him is defend his title 21 times and hold it for another 10-plus years without a loss or a draw.
Let’s end the suspense now: That’s not going to happen.
People who hate their jobs quit every day. Why hold Calzaghe to a different standard.
Whether he retires or returns, Joe Calzaghe is no longer only “The Prince of Wales.” He is now the King of the World.