Fight News

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Joe Calzaghe defends his WBO super-middleweight title for the 20th time

Welshman Joe Calzaghe taught 'Contender' star Peter Manfredo a violent lesson in the reality of world championship boxing with an emphatic third-round stoppage victory at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Calzaghe successfully defended his WBO super-middleweight title for the 20th time, an accomplishment which saw him equal the records of fellow greats Larry Holmes and Bernard Hopkins.

In front of a record indoor crowd of around 35,000, Calzaghe blazed out for the third round and rained a seemingly endless supply of hooks down upon hapless Manfredo.

Watching closely as the 26-year-old challenger gamely attempted to stay on his feet, referee Terry O'Connor had finally seen enough at one minute 30 seconds of the round and waved the contest off.

While such a quick win had always been expected for Calzaghe, of equal importance was its manner which cannot fail to have impressed his influential paymasters on both sides of the Atlantic.

In truth, having starred in the first series of the popular US reality TV boxing show, Manfredo had come to Cardiff with a broadcast appeal far outweighing his pure boxing credentials.

Successive knockout wins over Scott Pemberton and Joe Spina just about earned him his shot but few if any outside his camp gave the Providence native a realistic shot.

At least Manfredo went out on his feet, but the manner of Calzaghe's win underlined that the 35-year-old belongs in a different league to almost all the current crop of 12-stone contenders.

One exception is unbeaten WBA champion Mikkel Kessler, the Dane who has also been promoted by Home Box Office and would certainly pose a sterner test in a possible super-fight to come.

Despite Manfredo's questionable qualities, this was a clever fight for Calzaghe, designed to impress an American audience granted a rare free-to-air glimpse of the Welshman via the Home Box Office network.

And the challenger played his part too in the opening round, scoring with a clean right hook and largely keeping the champion at bay with his strength whenever he came into range.

Calzaghe dug home a couple of hurtful right hooks to the body at the start of the second and continued to flick jabs through Manfredo's guard as he began to take control of the fight.

The champion seized upon his advantage early in the third, cracking home a magnificent right to tee up a sustained period of punishment which had Manfredo desperately seeking to maintain his guard.

Scenting another dramatic quick win, Calzaghe blazed away with both hands, and the intervention of O'Connor was not unduly protested by the Manfredo corner.

Calzaghe told ITV: "It's amazing (to be in Cardiff) for my 20th defence in this amazing arena.

"I paid my dues for a long time and this is what dreams are made of - and there's more to come yet."

Calzaghe admitted that the stoppage may have come a little early but was certain he would have knocked his opponent out given the chance.

"I think you could make a case that it was stopped slightly prematurely but if it hadn't have been then I'd have stopped him by the fourth.

"The referee saved him from more punishment. Up close he was going (down) and in the next 20 or 30 seconds I'd have floored him.

"It looked like the ropes were keeping him up.

"I'm always supremely confident of my abilities but even at 35, you're still learning."

Manfredo was unhappy at the referee's decision to stop the fight when he did. He told ITV: "I was hanging in there, trying to get my rhythm going, and the fight was stopped too soon. There was no warning or anything.

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At 2:10 PM, Blogger merjoem32 said...

I think that Calzaghe is one of the least respected or recognized champions in boxing. Well at least not in the UK. His win against Lacy proved many doubters wrong.


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