Great article from Maxboxing.com
Calzaghe No Extraordinary Joe
by Steve Farhood (Oct 18, 2006)
Anything wrong about kicking a man when he’s up?
I didn’t think all that much of Joe Calzaghe before he beat Jeff Lacy, and I don’t think all that much of him now.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with him when he fought on Showtime, and I’m not particularly impressed with him now that he’s fighting on HBO.
The 34-year-old Calzaghe, 42-0 (31), has reigned for nine years and has made 19 defenses, but he’s never beaten a great fighter, and he’s certainly not a great fighter himself.
Nineteen successful defenses sounds overwhelming, but among the softballs tossed to the southpaw by the WBO have been Tocker Pudwill, Rick Thornberry, and Juan Carlos Gimenez. How demanding were these challengers? Consider the records of their opponents immediately preceding their respective title shots against Calzaghe:
Pudwill: Kwan Manassah, 6-16-2; Larry Kenney, 9-32-2; Donnie Penelton, 13-139-4; Enrico Ramirez, 5-12-1.
Thornberry: Davey Moore, 5-26-1; Tommy West, 18-23-5; Lionel Okulu, 1-0; Joseph Polu, 5-17; Brian Murphy, 0-2.
Gimenez: Miguel Javier Lopez, 1-11-2; Paul Jones, 3-4; Robson Silva dos Santos, 1-1.
Mug an old lady and the WBO will rank you seventh.
On Saturday, Calzaghe scored a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika, who had previously challenged then-WBC titlist Markus Beyer. Bika wasn’t exactly the caliber of Nigel Benn or Chris Eubank; before securing a shot at Calzaghe, he was scheduled to compete in the “ShoBox” super middleweight tournament, which was meant for fighters trying to establish themselves as contenders.
The ShoBox tournament finalists are John Paul Mendy and Anthony Hanshaw. I don’t think Bika would beat either of them.
In a sloppy bout, Calzaghe outpointed Bika easily enough. Afterward came the excuses that are Calzaghe trademarks: he hadn’t engaged in sufficient sparring; he had reinjured his left hand; he had suffered a cut over his left eye; his timing wasn’t right.
Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Those who support Calzaghe will point to his masterful win over the previously unbeaten Lacy. I picked Lacy to win that fight, so shame on me. But my selection was far more anti-Calzaghe than pro-Lacy. I repeat what I wrote earlier: Calzaghe has never beaten a great fighter, or anything close. (A badly faded Eubank doesn’t count.) Lacy’s biggest wins had come against Syd Vanderpool, Robin Reid, and Omar Sheika, and Calzaghe had already beaten two of the three.
Calzaghe has plenty of skills. He’s a good-sized super middle with plenty of fight in him, and his hand speed and mobility are excellent. Moreover, until recently, his chin has been impenetrable. But there are negatives, too. When Calzaghe trades, his chin is tilted upward. His power is ordinary and his focus is spotty.
One other thing: Each and every one of Calzaghe’s title fights has been in Europe. His promoter, Frank Warren, brought him to the USA a few years ago for a press conference. But we’re still waiting for his U.S. debut … just as we’re still waiting for two dominant performances in a row … just as we’re waiting for defining fights against Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones.
Trouble is, Hopkins is 41, and Jones is no longer relevant. Hell, we’ll settle for a showdown with Mikkel Kessler, but Calzaghe hasn’t expressed any interest in meeting the world’s second-best super middleweight.
When great fighters face challengers like Bika, they score blowout wins. What they don’t do is complain that only the big fights motivate them.
Joe Calzaghe is a really good fighter and an exemplary titlist. But by themselves, nine years and 19 defenses of an alphabet title do not a great fighter make. Such are the times we live in.
Calzaghe isn’t an ordinary Joe. He’s just not extraordinary either.