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Why Calzaghe deserves his place among the greats

Ben Dirs | 17:04 UK time, Thursday, 5 February 2009

When multi major-winning golfers retire, no-one feels the need to discuss whether they were 'great'. They went toe-to-toe with the best, week in, week out, year after year. They imposed their will on the biggest stage. Of course Nick Faldo was 'great'. The only pertinent question is: 'how great?'

Greater than Colin Montgomerie. There are facts to prove it. Faldo won six majors to Montgomerie's none. Faldo glowed like a rod of iron in the heat of battle, while Montgomerie so often wilted.

But greatness is more difficult to quantify in boxing than in other sports. So many imponderables, so many unanswerables. Too many 'ifs' and 'buts'.

The story of any sportsperson's career is littered with 'ifs' and 'buts', and the story of a boxer's career even more so. As one boxer once told me, "if 'if' was a drug, every fighter would be as high as a kite".

Joe Calzaghe's career has far too many 'ifs' and 'buts' for some people's liking. But Chris Eubank was past it. But Roy Jones was shot. If only he'd fought Nigel Benn. Forty-six wins and no defeats, 21 world title defences at super-middleweight, world titles at two different weights. Still not good enough for some. Have a look on the 606 messageboards if you don't believe me.

calzaghe438.jpg

Part of the problem is boxing's. Boxing is perhaps the only sport in which it is possible to go year after year, ostensibly at the highest level, without competing against the best. Roger Federer, whose greatness is beyond doubt, is unable to turn round to his masters on the ATP Tour and say, "you know what chaps, I don't fancy playing against Rafa and Andy this week, I think I'll try my luck in the Parsons Green Lawn Tennis Club singles instead".

As I have mentioned on this website before, why Calzaghe never got round to fighting Roy Jones or Bernard Hopkins earlier, or the dangerous German Dariusz Michalczewski, or indeed his charmed compatriot Sven Ottke, we may never know.

But it is boxing's scandal, rather than Calzaghe's, that five world title holders in and around the same weight class were able to go fight after fight, year after year, without facing each other.

The proliferation of weight classes also means it is possible for a modern fighter to spend years rattling around in a sparsely-talented division, and it was Calzaghe's bad luck - or good, whichever way you want to look at it - to come along at a time when those marquee names of the British boxing scene had either just hung them up or were fading.

Just as the blossoming of Rafa Nadal has in no way diminished Federer's greatness (as BBC Sport's Piers Newbery recently wrote on this website, "Nadal has made the value of any future major wins [for Federer] so much greater"), then the brutal series of fights between Eubank, Benn, Michael Watson and Steve Collins only served to enhance their legend.

As Calzaghe puts it, "it wasn't my fault that I couldn't fight guys like Nigel Benn, they were just before my time". The flip side is a fighter like Kevin Finnegan, who went 45 rounds with future world champion Alan Minter, another 16 with Marvin Hagler, and never even got a world title tilt. Finnegan died last year, poor, unappreciated, largely forgotten. If he had been fighting at middleweight today, there's a chance he'd have been an undisputed champion.

But let's not get too maudlin, for Calzaghe's is a talent to celebrate. For my money, he would have beaten Benn and Collins. Too slick, too accurate, every bit as tough.

Calzaghe has admitted the bigger fights should have come sooner ("I thought America and the big-money fights had passed me by," he told BBC Sport last year, "I was struggling to fill the Cardiff Ice Rink, fighting guys whose names I was struggling to pronounce"), but when they came, he dazzled in the spotlight.

Against Jeff Lacy, sent across the Atlantic to sort out the uppity Brit, Calzaghe was beautiful. Many good judges called it the finest post-War display by a British boxer. It gave boxing a good name.

Against the Dane Mikkel Kessler, tipped by many to end Calzaghe's unbeaten run, the Welshman showed off deep reserves and tremendous adaptability to weather an early storm and end up a comfortable victor. Calzaghe calls it his finest hour.

The result of his bout with the 43-year-old Hopkins, his first on American soil, was debatable - and, my, did people debate it. But Hopkins' subsequent mauling of middleweight king Kelly Pavlik revealed the old fox was far from finished.

Calzaghe's valedictory fight against Jones in New York last November proved little, other than that Jones had turned to vinegar while Calzaghe was still fine wine. Still, it was an old score settled, and the right time to go. Little left to prove, and no-one around to prove it against.

Calzaghe deserves to sit alongside Ken Buchanan and Lennox Lewis as the greatest of Britain's post-War greats. When Ricky Hatton retires, they may have to budge up to make room.

'Ifs' and 'buts' cling to all four of them like barnacles. However, it would take a brave person to argue against Calzaghe's 46-fight unbeaten run, his 21 world title defences, his 11-year world championship reign.

If you're really intent on seeking out the tragedy in every story, you might want to point out he retired never really knowing how good he was. But tucked away back in Newbridge, admiring his belts, I'm sure he'll cope with your doubts just fine.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Good article Ben, always enjoy reading your views on boxing. Joe, for me, retires as a bona-fide great. What a fighter, what a credit to Wales and Britain. I say fighter as he drew on the warrior spirit many a time. Could he have carried on winning? I think yes, without a doubt. Is it right, then, for him to retire now? Yes. Boxing, more than any other sport, is littered with men who carried on too long and it takes a smart man, a satisfied man - like Joe, like Lennox - to have the strength to say, 'that's it, I'm going out at the top.'

  • Comment number 2.

    My only frustration is that he could've been even better. Too many years spent defending the lesser-regarded WBO belt, staying at home, perhaps sometimes unfortunate but also sometimes unwilling and unambitious to go that extra mile to take on the best guys around.

    The last 3 years have been a major boost to Joe and he is one of the UK's best ever boxers. But I can't just ignore the many wasted years, no matter how churlish that may seem to Calzaghe's fans.

    Probably the right time to go.

  • Comment number 3.

    Joe was a great Champion , not a legend and in my opinion , not in the same sentence as Lewis.
    He was a decent fighter, who got dropped by 2 old and way past thier prime fighters. the real jones jr wouldve killed him.

    Against Roy Quite how he thought it entertaining to show boat when beating up the remains of Roy Jones is beyond me. It was a gaudy spectacle and a measure of his lack of power in a single shots that it went 12 - no doubt as with Lacy it would have been better for the opponent had he just put them away quickly
    Calzaghe is in no way a top 30 all time, never mind top 10. As I said, he is a very good fighter who was very carefully managed. There is no doubt that had he faced Bhop or RJ earlier in their careers, both men would have wiped the floor with Joe. To try and compare Calzaghe with mayweather is laughable. Unlike Joe, Floyd has impressive name after impressive name on his resume, most of which he did face in their prime. I absolutely concur with gordon in the opinion that Calzaghe and Jones have similar stories, only I actually would give Roy more credit.

    During his prime there were really few mountains to climb and I think he wound up messing his career up with that heavyweight excursion. The physical toll it had to take made him old too soon in my opinion and with out it we might still be talking about Jones as the greatest lightheavy or super middleweight ever.
    Back in the real day, LEGENDARY consisted of various rematches with other worthy LEGENDARY fighters (Like Hopkins)

    Calzaghes performance in the (traumatized) Roy Jones fight further convinced me of how good Hopkins still is.

    To be an IMMORTAL LEGEND (Like Hopkins) Calzaghe needed to fight Hopkins in a rematch, and Chad Dawson, and perhaps a few other fights that develop after that.

    If Calzaghe lost in his quest to become an all time legend its ok. It will be what it is. But do everyone a favor and make boxing what it truly is not the joke it has become where paper champions like to retire simply because they are scared to lose.

    Hopkins has showed his commitment to the sport and his commitment to being legendary...Will Joe?

  • Comment number 4.

    I was lucky enough to witness Joe whup Lacy live and i have nothing but the upmost respect for him. He beat Eubank ( whether he was past it or not is irrelevant) and has has remained an undefeated champion since then. I'm pretty sure several champion boxers have faced "questionable opponents" before Joe and since. You can only beat who is put in front of you. I think he deserves all the plaudits. We have to celebrate the success of Britains greatest fighter / boxer

  • Comment number 5.

    He is a living legend. I would love for him to have claimed 50 unbeaten fights, but I suppose we can't have it all!
    My only 'if' was Pavlik, and since he got beat, Joe's right... nothing left to prove.
    I believe re-matches should be between prime fighters and only with fights in between, so Hopkins & Jones are really a no go! The naysayers will never be happy, but Joe is no spring chicken himself, and there really isn't a young buck to pass the reigns to.
    So, good luck Joe, and thanks for the memories!

  • Comment number 6.

    Joe is not the same caliber of a fighter as Lewis. Lewis was ducked by American fighters. Calz ducked everyone until Lacy and Kessler. Kessler is the only prime fighter he beat. Beating RJJ is nice but proves pretty much nothing. Now, if he fought Chad Dawson and beat him like he beat Roy, it'll be a different story.

    I really think the main difference is that there was NO one left for Lewis. Dawson is a legit fighter and the only fight that makes sense for Calz. A rematch with B-hop would prove very little.
    P.S Joe is the man! Do I think he is one of the greatest fighters of all time , NO! WHY? I'll tell you. the only good fighter he has beat while they were in their primes are Jeff Lacey, and Kessler. Now I admit I though Lacey was going to crush him, but after that Fight I was very impressed with Joe. He beat a past prime B-hop, and a former shell of himself Jones. Yes he has those name under his belt, but what are those name worth during the time he beat them that the real question. For those who love Joe, you cant hate on Floyd ( probably a modern day legend) because mayweather has beaten a lot pf people while they were in their PRIMES, (Coralas, Castio, Hatton, Juda, Baldomir, Cheves,Leija, Manfredy, Genaro Hernandez!( the champ),N'Doy,) and the list goes on. Beating fighter in their Primes, before and during your prime is what makes you great. Calzaghe good YES! VERY!, great , sorry but NO!

    Calzaghe waited until these guys are past their prime to come here and fight, and now acts as if he is the GOATman. He is still still in the same sentence as Hatton of you ask me. Hatton seeks the best and fighters in their prime. But Joe kept kidding himself his stable in Wales. Enjoy your retirement Joe. TOU REMINDS OF Sven Ottke the man who retired undefeated like you. Alegend NAH, a good champ YES
    . Jones, in his day, had enough pace to fight his unorthodox style with his hands down and against the ropes, he just got slower and too old to be effective. Calzaghe does not know how to jab, he slaps like a girl, and again, the fact the judges gave him the Hopkins fight is a joke. Hopkins NOW can still beat him, and did beat him..

    I DONT BUY A LOT OF IN CALZ's victories of old men out of their game, just like i hardly give credit to Danny williams fighting MIKE TYSON

  • Comment number 7.

    I agree with 77 pence.

    Whilst Calzaghe was and is, unquestionably, a very very talented boxer he certainly hasn't proven himself to be a 'great'

    I think his record is more a product of 'careful match-making' as opposed to greatness.

    The only credible opponent he has actually beaten in the last 4 years is Kessler. I don't believe he beat Hopkins (they should have had a rematch), Jones was washed up and Lacy was a myth!!

    I agree that he's been slightly unlucky in that the opposition available is lacklustre but if he really wants to be remembered he needs to settle the score with Hopkins and beat a genuine challenger in who is in their prime. I still don't believe he'd get past Pavlik. Sure, Hopkins did a number on Pavlik, but Hopkins is a wily character and Pavlik's style (one-dimensional) suited him.

    Be interesting to see how long he stays in retirement.

  • Comment number 8.

    Anyone that thinks Eubank was past it should go back and watch that fight I watched it again 3 weeks ago. It was a battle.
    Joe was one of those boxers that was only as good as his competion. I don't mean that in a bad way either. He always came up with goods, adapted well, and always did enough to beat his opponent.
    That 50 fight thing bugs me though, but there really isn't anyone I can think of that deserves a shot against him!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    A truely great fighter and in my opinion probably the greatest British fighter of all time, to go your whole career undefeated is unbelievable. Hope you enjoy your retirement Joe, you deserve it.

  • Comment number 10.

    It's possible to argue the toss about his record until the end of time, but there's no doubting that he had all the toys. Great jab, blurring hand-speed, great combinations, sound chin, great resolution and, until his hands started to let him down systematically over the past four years, decent power.

    In British terms, the post-war comparison with Lewis (L) and Buchanan is apt - these are the best three of the past sixty-five years or so. The comprehensive nature of Hatton's loss against the best he faced leads me to place him, with Hamed, Conteh and Turpin, a rung below the top three.

    For what it's worth, I make Calzaghe Number 5 of all fighters to come from these shores. Only Buchanan and Lennox Lewis and the two undeniable superstars of around World War 1, Ted Kid Lewis and Wilde, sit ahead of him, in my view.

    There may always be a slight annoyance that Calzaghe left it so late to make his proper mark, but he did at least get there in the end. Had he retired at the end of 2005, "So what?" would have been the only possible response. As it is, he deserves to be remembered as one of the great British sportsmen.

  • Comment number 11.

    What are peoples thoughts on Carl Froch? Can he replace or surpass Joe?

  • Comment number 12.

    I rate Froch as a good fighter, who can maybe take the Champs seat for a while, but the Calzague's of the world are a class above.
    Again, I say this knowing Joe may only work as hard as he has to in the ring, but that's because he adapts to a fight, so no matter how good his opponent, Joe could always had one more gear.
    People can say all they want about Kones/Hopkins, but until you can invent a time machine I have to disagree. Joe would have adapted no matter when and done what he needed to for the win. See Kessler!

  • Comment number 13.

    None of the guys he fought(other than a 43 year old Hopkins) is HOF worthy. For that reason alone, i dont know how people can say he's a HOF fighter.
    Lacy didn't have a chance in the world because he was a grossly over rated fighter who was fighting a grossly under rated fighter.
    Calzaghe thinks he has nothing lefdt to prove but he hasn't proved anything fighting two 40 year old fighters
    The only thing Joe proved was that Roy Jones should have retired probably after the RUIZ fight
    I peronally think he got the split decission win because of the comment that Hopkins said 'about never losing to a white boy' which was absolutely uncalled for
    Joe proved that with Kessler , ( a decent champion) one can win with all the support at home ..
    oved that If you fight un unproven fighter, overated nonentity like Lacy you can pull up a clinic. Dont tell me anything about Lacy because prior to fighting Joe Lacy was a champipon with a belt, but had not fought anyone
    Joe defeated two fighters that are far more accomplished than him that were way past their primes. A good win vs. Kessler. The rest of his 43 wins were against no-name bums.

  • Comment number 14.

    He's been a fantastic fighter and ambassador for the sport and for Britain. He retires as a legend of the ring no matter what anyone says. As Dirsy's said in the article, every fighter's career is littered with ifs and buts and Calzaghe's is no different. But who knows who did all the ducking and diving over the years? Who knows the reasons why all these fights didn't pan out?

    All we have to go on are facts and the facts state the guy was champion of his weight division for over 10 yeas, over 20 defences, won every meaningful belt at his weight division and now retires undefeated. If you could offer that to any up-and-coming fighter just starting out in the game they'd offer you half their future earnings for a career like that.

    Great article as well Dirsy, now get back where you belong commentating on the cricket, we could do with some cheering up the way our boys are going at the moment.

  • Comment number 15.

    jeremy-griffiths - Totally agree, quite relieved he's decided to call it quits on top.

    Ryushinku - To be honest, I agree with you, and from some of Calzaghe's comments over the last couple of years, I think he probably thinks he wasted some prime years as well.

    77pence - With the greatest respect, you do seem to contradict yourself. You say Calzaghe's not in the "same sentence" as Calzaghe because he got dropped by two "past their prime" fighters, while completely ignoring the fact that Lewis got dropped by two pretty average heavyweights. And unlike Calzaghe, Lewis didn't get back up...

    therennes - I have to agree, I thought Hopkins won that fight.

    gareth423 - Have to agree about the "only as good as he had to be" line. Anyone who saw his fights with Kabery Salem and Sakio Bika can attest to that.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's been a long time coming and boxing is better off without protected paper champions like Joe Calzaghe.

    Joe Calzaghe is a typical example of a boxer who has been protected through careful management in what must be one of the weakest divisions in boxing's history. Calzaghe's "reign" consists of 21 title defenses in a division and at a time where Sven Ottke made the same achievement.

    Until Jeff Lacy, which came nearly 10 years too late, Joe Calzaghe was virtually unknown. And since then, beating an unproven Mikkel Kessler, a shell of Roy Jones Jr. and a controversial decision over Bernard Hopkins is not the stuff of legends.

    The argument from Calzaghe's fans who claim his 10 year "reign" is enough to grant him legendary status is absolute nonsense. Sven Ottke and Dariusz M made 21 and 23 title defenses - they're hardly great.

    Hopefully boxing can pick itself up with fewer WBO-like titles and less Calzaghe-like management where the best fight the best.

    Goodbye Calzaghe, it's been a long time coming.

  • Comment number 17.

    just one word ... RESPECT

  • Comment number 18.

    77pence, who did Calzaghe duck then? Come on, give us some names. If you compare Calzaghe's record with that of the other undefeated 12 stone champion of this era, Sven Ottke, Calzaghe's record is in a completely different league.

  • Comment number 19.

    Who did Calzaghe duck? He ducked America for the best of his career until Hopkins was 43 and Jones Jr. was 40. Calzaghe could've made fights with Hopkins, Jones, Taylor, Winky, Pavlik (but instead chose a 40 year old shell of Jones), Glen Johnson, Chad Dawson (an example of today), and the list goes on.

    Calzaghe was happy to fight the Manfredos of the world with 35, 000 of his delusional fans supporting him in Wales.

    Compare Calzaghe's record with Hopkins' or Jones' - big difference.

  • Comment number 20.

    It goes without saying at this point Calzaghe is the best post war fighter from Britain, arguably the best ever. Lennox Lewis was great but his losses were sloppy, when Joe had sloppy performances he still won. The only debate over Hopkins was how easy Joe won, only deluded americans and JC haters could doubt the man. Hopkins wasnt finished, and even if in some possible way you think JC wasnt that good well Pavlik showed us all in his own way that JC is. History will be kinder to Joe than current critics and it will take someone very special to topple the super tough welshman. Kessler,Lacy,Hopkins,RJJ, nobody else could ever follow. Every champion has easy defences, theyre not all classics, just a shame that even some haters are too naive to realise this, Ali, Marciano, Pacman, they have all had their poor fights with questionable Ws. Big Up JC from an englishman who is proud to say its a gritty welshman that tops the lot for Britain!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    You forget that Jones Jr was chastised for years for avoiding and ducking quality opponents during his career.

    Dawson fighting washed up johnson and Tarver is hardley decent credentails either (he was lucky against Johnson too)

    Hopkins has lost twice to one of the most over-rated fighters in the division in Jermaine Taylor. Hopkins' record hardley stands up to close scrutiny to mark him as a legend. I don't think there's a boxing fan on the planet that would have wanted to sit through 12 rounds of Calzaghe v Hopkins II.

    People make up their own minds about Calzaghe. If you're to believe Frank Warren he ducked everyone out there, if you believe Calzaghe he was being ducked. There's probably truth in both but when Calzaghe fought he was exciting to watch and I personally enjoyed following his career. Not a great like Lewis but an undisputed champion and therefore one of the greatest boxers to come out of Britain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Julius, tell us when these fights could have been made then. Why don't we talk about historical facts rather than conjecture? When could any fight with Sven Ottke have been made, when Ottke never fought outside Germany and his record doesn't stand up to the same level of scrutiny that Calzaghe's does?

    How many world champions does Calzaghe have on his record compared to his contemporaries? What more do you want?

  • Comment number 23.

    Ah Julius - the stalwart 606 Calzaghe Hater.

  • Comment number 24.

    Why on Earth would beating Dawson add to his legacy? Dawson is a nobody, Kessler has a better pedigry. The onyl slight can have against Joe is the fact that he didnt fight RJJ and Hoppo in their prime. Well that my friends is because hes been in his prime the last few years and Bhop and RJJ were in theirs over TEN YEARS AGO. He wouldve beaten Bhop anyway. Ill agree RJJ would probably have beaten him but thats because he was in his prime and Joe was nowhere near his. Different eras so stop bleating about it

  • Comment number 25.

    Oh Bhop is a great but i think youll find he only really has a blown up Trinidad, Oscar and a dead on his feet Pavlik on his record. How hes a nailed on cert for HOF and Joe isnt is anyones guess.

  • Comment number 26.

    These naysayers wind me up.
    He battered Eubank, Collins (best of the rest) ducked him quite right too, average boxer Benn would have been absolutely destroyed - like Lacy but worse.
    Kessler would have beaten all of the above.

    Calzaghe beat who he had to beat and beat them well for the large part.

    Let's have some big respect for him - Lewis and Buchanan - that's right in my book. And miles ahead of media lovies and journeymen pro like (sir?) Henry Cooper and Frank Bruno.

    RJJ was in his prime 96-01, Calzaghe 04-07.

    46-0 in the hardest of all sports - number 1 super guy and robbed of at least 1 more Sports Personality of the Year

  • Comment number 27.

    It's been a long time coming and boxing is better off without protected paper champions like Joe Calzaghe.

    Joe Calzaghe is a typical example of a boxer who has been protected through careful management in what must be one of the weakest divisions in boxing's history. Calzaghe's "reign" consists of 21 title defenses in a division and at a time where Sven Ottke made the same achievement.

    Until Jeff Lacy, which came nearly 10 years too late, Joe Calzaghe was virtually unknown. And since then, beating an unproven Mikkel Kessler, a shell of Roy Jones Jr. and a controversial decision over Bernard Hopkins is not the stuff of legends.

    The argument from Calzaghe's fans who claim his 10 year "reign" is enough to grant him legendary status is absolute nonsense. Sven Ottke and Dariusz M made 21 and 23 title defenses - they're hardly great.

    Hopefully boxing can pick itself up with fewer WBO-like titles and less Calzaghe-like management where the best fight the best.

    Goodbye Calzaghe, it's been a long time coming.

  • Comment number 28.

    Who cares...this guy beat a bunch of nobodies his whole career, and nobody in America ever heard of him till he decided to fight 2 over-the-hill 40+ fighters in Hopkins and Jones. The decision over Hopkins was questionable at best, and Jones should have retired after beating Tarver in the first fight like 5 years ago. The only thing I'll give this jobber credit for is having a hot girlfriend and the ability to take a fight against washed up fighters. Ok, obviously Hopkins still has it at his age but in my opinion Hopkins beat him.
    Calzaghe was a great fighter but still left a lot of questions to be answered. His only 2 victories the really stand out are against a shot RJJ and a questionable decision against BHOP. Jeff Lacey was extremely over rated. Who knows how big the Kessler win was because Kessler really does not fight any quality opponents. Joe also withdrew against Glen Johnson what 3 or 4 times? He should have fought these guys 6 or 7 years ago and we would of seen how truely great he was.

  • Comment number 29.

    One of the best post war boxers Britain has been graced to have. Shame to see him go as i would of liked to seen Froch vs Calzaghe but not to be. Wont be long before Hatton calls it a day aswell, then we will be left with "gone in 60 seconds" Kahn.

  • Comment number 30.

    Well said RobVilla.

    The Naysayers aren't even critical for the most part. They seem to just be nagative.

    Calzague has done enough to be talked about with the best. We can always talk about imaginary fights, but the fact is he was unbeaten, and can anyone honestly say there is a fighter around at the moment that could?

    Should he hang on until he's 40 odd and there is new blood to take it from him?

    Give him his due. Most of the legit criticisms are boxings (and the corporate shills that run it) fault (which maybe why UFC is growing), and not Calzague's.

    The man served his time and made us proud.

    On a funny note, I wonder what his tv deals are! I hope it's not bit part movie acting.

  • Comment number 31.

    The argument about greatness will go on but, for me, the fight against Lacy was his finest hour. Tipped to lose by most commentators, including many experts from the bbc, Joe destroyed his opponent in one of the best fights I have ever seen. I'd like to tip my hat to the man and say thanks for renewing my belief in the sport that night. Joe is a deserved champion and he should be celebrated as one of our finest ever boxers

  • Comment number 32.

    77pence the only thing I'll give you is that you are entitled to a really pathetic, illiterate opinion

  • Comment number 33.

    The naysayers and critics can gripe and moan as much as they want but they cannot get away from what Calzaghe has achieved.

    Julius's pitiful comparison to Sven Ottke does not stand up to even cursory analysis. 77pence's whines about nobodies doesn't stand up either when you compare him to the records of other champions.

  • Comment number 34.

    Apart from Kessler and Lacy; all of the name fighters that JC beat were well past their best. Let's not forget that many of his defenses at supermiddleweight were against middleweights - most of which he won on dull as dish water performances - Sako Bika and Kabery Salem being two prime examples of this.

    Saying that JC is a better boxer than Jones Jr is like saying Terry Norris is better than Sugar Ray Leonard - utterly ridiculous. Jones Jr was nearly 10 years past his best and had been heavily stopped twice. Likewise Hopkins was 40. Had he fought them in their primes it would have been a completely different story - which is why Frank Warren made sure he didn't.

    JC wasn't a big puncher and whilst he had a great cardio engine; he slapped (and was never picked up for it) far too much. He talked himself up constantly - he was his own biggest fan. He fought outside the UK 3 times - 2 of which were his last two fights.

    Had Warren not promoted both JC and Reid then the decision of their fight may well have been a fairer reflection. One thing was for sure JC definitely didn't want a rematch.

    The casual boxing fan raves about JC and proclaims him "Britain's Best" - it will be interesting to see how the cold light of history views him.

    JC may figure somewhere in the lower reaches of the British top ten - but greatest ever - nonsense!

  • Comment number 35.

    77pence

    'Hopkins over the hill'
    'Hopkins still has it'
    'Calzaghe a jobber'
    'Calzaghe a great fighter'

    All from the same post - make your mind up!
    All you're doing is showing everyone you have the wit and intellect of a peanut.

  • Comment number 36.

    4 time ABA champion 11 years world champion undefeated in 46 fights record speaks for itself well done joe have a good retirement.

  • Comment number 37.

    Nobody knows why the big fights didn't happen. Except for one, Hopkins, who suddenly demanded a trillion dollars for the fight becuase he got scared.

    Who cares about the haters, they are not important

    Calzaghe, a legend

  • Comment number 38.

    Blackknight, nobody is arguing that Calzaghe should be above Roy Jones in the all-time pecking order. I doubt even Calzaghe would argue for that. What I am arguing for is that Calzaghe should be recognised as a modern great, as he deserves to be.

  • Comment number 39.

    Mr Ben Dirs,
    All boxers have their detractors. But Calzaghe i reckon has the highest number and i am one of them. He is not the only one i suspect, infact i feel similar about Lewis also.
    According to one Welsh guy, Calzaghe is not even the best Welsh boxer let alone British, European or world. Apparently Jimmy Wilde was the greatest Welsh boxer.
    I genuinely feel that if Calzaghe had the hunger he could have gone to the USA during the 1990s and challenged the best. But according to Warren 'he was afraid of flying'. But that fear disappeared as soon Bernard Hopkins lost to Taylor twice and RJJ lost 3 times. Both men were pretty much finished and thats when Calzaghe suddenly appears in the USA! Hopkins indeed pulled out a shock against Pavlik but that does not change the fact that he is too old. At 44 he should not be getting in the ring.
    I can go on all night talking about the 'fraudulent legacy of Calzaghe but there is no need. It has been discussed many times on 606

  • Comment number 40.

    It's funny how all the haters claim to be the 'experts' yet anyone who's opinion that Clazaghe was/is one of the greatest is percieved to be part time.

  • Comment number 41.

    blacknight,
    you are correct about Reid. Calzaghe snuck a decision there and refused rematch

  • Comment number 42.

    Great article. For all the opinion being poured forth on here about how Joe didn't beat x y and z in their prime etc, it is worth saying that regardless who he fought he always found a way of winning. Regardless of him fighting against great defence, big punching, fast hands etc he always found a way to turn a fight his way. That makes him a great and discredits anyone claiming that other fighters would have beaten him. Based on what Clazaghe produced that looks unlikely and at best pretty subjective.

  • Comment number 43.

    sonofthedestroyer, it's also funny that warren comes out with this status as soon as Calzaghe dumps him.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think that reading a lot of these comments just illustrates a large section of the British public's mentality towards their best quality sportsmen-why are many of us so quick to try and talk down the success of our best athletes?

    What Joe has achieved is absoluteley amazing. No question about it. Anyone can pick apart Joe's record (as you can pick apart the record of ANY fighter) but the 47-0 is is really something. Joe managed to fight a mixture of contenders and world class opponents, in a pro career that spanned over 15 years without ever slipping up. Not many pros (no matter how 'padded' their record) can say that. Both Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis were KO'd by journeymen fighters in their time but Joe always found a way to win even when going into the fight as the supposed underdog.

    I think it's pretty poor that there are people saying that 'the only decent fighter that Calzaghe fought was Kessler'. Some of you have short memories, Chris Eubank, Charles Brewer, Ritchie Woodall, Robin Reid all tough fighters that Joe came through in some memorable battles in the 'pre lacy' years.

    I think the only blot on his legacy is that he didn't fight the truly elite fighters 7-8 years earlier because i think with more youth and power on his side he'd have destroyed any of them on his day, James Toney, Roy Jones Jnr etc and this would have proved without a shadow of a doubt that he operates on that sort of level.

    I think that when Kessler goes on to dominate SMW division and Calzaghe is long retired, like Lennox Lewis before him, people will really start to appreciate what sort of a fighter he was. Unique style, exciting, fast, illusive, strong, courageous, and always professional. He came up the hard way and proved everyone wrong time and time again.

    Deserves his health his money and his retirement. I'd say he also ranks in the top 4/5 british fighters of all time.

  • Comment number 45.

    I did like Reid, and conced that a rematch would have been in the interest of boxing. Reid blew it with his love of the ladies and the 'life' though.
    Calzague has always trained hard and been hungry. I would have loved to have seen him fight Collins (medical? not ducking).

    Anyhow, the man deserves some credit. He has helped bring in new fans, he has been an ambassador, he does a great deal for charity. Oh...I nearly forgot. He won 46 fights unbeaten too!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Plus, I don't think I've ever heard the British public say anything nice about anyone for about 20 years.
    We only build up underdogs so take the sadistic pleasure in pulling the rug out.
    We seem happier to laud people for PC reasons (ie making ourselves feel better for seeing special things that the majority disagree with).
    I think we are the only nation that doesn't support our own. Even when we say something good there is always a "but...".
    Just be bloody proud of Joe. Don't come up with hypothetical BS.

    Treasure what he did and wish him the best!

  • Comment number 47.

    Thanks for mentioning Kevin Finnegan, I'd never heard of him before.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVhakVyXh8g

    Appreciate it.

  • Comment number 48.

    Good Boxer, shame he never went Prime v Prime against a Top P4P Fighter. He may have lost a few, but would have done a lot more justice to a somewhat mediocre career considering he has talent

  • Comment number 49.

    its great to see all these people who are against calzaghe deciding whether he is a legend or not.i will never knock anyone in sport unless i am better than them. so if i go by what i read here,there must be an awful lot of 47-0 boxers commenting on here.

  • Comment number 50.

    lol green1773. well said.

  • Comment number 51.

    observer123, probably the worst comment of the lot. to call someone with a 46-0,2 different world titles at 2 different weights,mediocre is a measure of what you know about the sport

  • Comment number 52.

    The difference between Calzaghe and Hatton, Lewis and even Naseem is that all the latter 3 actively sought out the best in their division to fight in a way Joe never did, Yes all three have suffered defeats, but prior to that Lewis actively called out fighters like Bowe, Ruddock and Tyson, Hatton put his record on the line against Tszyu and Mayweather, Naseem went up against Barrera in his pomp, all three tried to unify their titles, something Joe actively avoided until the fag end of his career.

    As for who avoided who in Calzaghe's prime years, are we really to believe that the other champions in Joe's division were more afraid of Joe than Hatton's contemporaries are of him? or Prince Naseem's were of him? give over, when Bowe ducked Lewis everybody knew about it and who did the ducking, the fact is Joe didn't want to fight anybody who wouldn't come and fight in his back yard.

    All Joe had to do was go to America and make the fights, Hatton is fighting a prime Pacquiao in his next fight, that's the sort of fight that makes greats, not beating up 39 year old former greats. Hatton can make the fights, Hamed could make the fights, Lewis could make the fights or made sure that people knew who was stopping the fights, whay couldn't Joe make the fights earlier.

    Joe was a good fighter, very good even but he did duck the best in his division for far far too long to be considered great. I don't think being unbeaten is the be all and end all.

  • Comment number 53.

    Joe is not a legend in my book and never will be however i think lewis is and hatton could beand ill get slated for that but oh well, Yes he may have a fantastic record with 46-0 but what good does it mean you dont fight the best when their at there peak even in 2001 if we went and fought ODLH,Hopkins and Jones Jr and lost all three of them and had a record of 43-3 id have more respect for the man.

    Im not saying his a bad boxer because to beat someone like kessler you have to be good but was he great i suppose we will never know, i think he would have beaten hopkins in his prime for sure ODLH and Jones Jr im not entirely sure on.

    His a great boxer and of the greatest british boxers there will be but im afraid there will always be a what if element about him which hatton and lewis will never have.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think history will judge Joe more favourably than some of the posters on here. He's a credit to Britain and deserves congratulations and respect for how he has dedicated himself to his sport and for what he has achieved.

    It's very easy (and British) to be negative and try and pick holes in the things he didn't achieve but then you can pick holes in Marciano's record quite easily... but is that important? is that what people remember about him?

    e.g. Do people remember that he beat Joe Louis when Louis was clearly past it (age 37), won title from past it Walcott (38 years old - 16 defeats), beat shot Ezzard Charles twice (age 33 - 10 defeats), beat ancient Archie Moore (39 years old - 19 defeats) and ducked Patterson ...or do they remember that he retired as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world??

    ...I'd also just like to remind people about Terry Marsh. Another British fighter who retired as an unbeaten world champion (albeit with 1 draw... and a no contest with Frank Warren :-)

  • Comment number 55.

    Joe was a great fighter and retiring unbeaten is I think the right thing for him to do.

    I agree with some previous comments regarding the some of his previous years and the quality of the belt he held, however not really Joes fault and more a fault of the way modern boxing is organised too many world champions and belts.

    I think the biggest compliment I could pay him is that if there was one World Champion at each weight Joe would have won a title for sure but would probably not have remained unbeaten.

    I also didnt enjoy his showboating in the Jones fight but he beat him fair and square.

    He fought some great fighters at probably the right time Hopkins, Jones and Eubank but lets not forget Hopkins destroyed the highly rated Kelly Pavlik in his next fight so he was hardly washed up.

    Think his best fights were Kessler and Lacy I wish him well and resists the temptation to return. I somehow think we have not seen the last of him yet!

  • Comment number 56.

    I sincerely hope Joe looks after his money and never gets back in the ring. Yes, there will be always someone to beat but the someones will be younger and younger whilst he gets older and older.
    Great career! You can't ask for more than to retire as a healthy unbeaten world champion with a bit of money.

  • Comment number 57.

    Sorry - he would have battered 2003 ODLH who was what Welter Weight at the time.

    Hopkins avoided him to protect his record against lighter and/or mediocre fighters. RJJ did the same - no Hopkins rematch.
    Those guys never gave Joe a match as they had to much to lose until Joe graciously gave them a match up when he had lots to lose.
    Other than ODLH who after being beaten by Hopkins and seeing what happened to Lacy didn't fancy having his brains in his pants for the rest of his days.

    Calzaghe fought them all and beat all who had to beat.

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm dissapointed, if joe had fought froch he would have laid the GB greatest to rest.I think joe has been fastastic but he could have renvigorated uk boxing by fighting froch.

  • Comment number 59.

    With the greatest of respect to Carl Froch, a fighter I admire and respect enormously, I believe he would be well beaten by Calzaghe. We saw in the Pascal fight that his defence was wide open. Calzaghe may not have the power he once had, but he would have enough to pick Froch off at will in my book.

  • Comment number 60.

    Total legend, thanks for the memories Joe. Not in the same sentence as Lennox Lewis? That is the best joke i've heard in years! Lennox Lewis, the Dion Dublin of boxing. Calzaghe- THE greatest British boxer of all time...by miles.

  • Comment number 61.

    There's no point saying he beat everyone who was put in front of him - he should have fought Jones and Hopkins 7 or 8 years ago - then he would have been a legend if he'd have fought and beat the best of a generation whilst in their prime.

  • Comment number 62.

    That's like saying Larry Holmes wasn't an outstanding heavyweight champion because he didn't beat Ali in his pomp. It doesn't take account of the sporting reality of the time.

  • Comment number 63.

    Only in terms of longetivity does Calzaghe stand tall amongtst the best in the sport.

    Lennox had fights against more dangerous opponents and reversed any losses.

    Buchanan went overseas to claim his title and defeat the best in his division. He was still boxing hard against Roberto Duran in the 13th round when he got hit low. One boxing magazine at the time had Buchanan ranked 17th of all time (all weights).

    Where will Calzaghe be ranked in such a list?

  • Comment number 64.

    I agree RE: Froch

    Tough fighter, but he would have been repeatedly decked and bewildered by Calzaghe.

  • Comment number 65.

    I love how people say that Calzaghe- or other fighters haven't beaten other "great fighters" because they haven't/hadn't been over to America to fight.

    These so called "great fighters" are built up in the American media to sell shows on PPV TV and are not the best in the world (right now the heavyweight is not so bad, just no overhyped Americans to sell shows!)

    Lacy, Palvik, Paulie Malignaggi... are good examples of this! (PROBABLY Chad Dawson too). Jusat look at HBO.com for future world beaters who turn into NO MARKS!

    There are better Europeans, South Americans and Africans than these to fight.

    Kessler still hasnt fought in USA, against a so called big fighter and he would dominate them!! Hopkins won't fight him because he'll lose for no money.

    Last point- Calzaghe has defended his titles with one hand on a few occassions, having broke the other- sign of a true Great! True Warrior! True Champion!

  • Comment number 66.

    Certainly it is an achievement to undefeated. But let us look at this objectively, rather than letting flag waving nationalism cloud the issue. He fought some big names...but all on the downside of their career. He did not have knock out power, and was not a great fighter in the true sense of the word. He was a good fighter who had a lot of luck timing his fights.

  • Comment number 67.

    How do fighters earn the right to be called "great."? They beat other "great: fighters in their prime. For example:

    Hagler v. Hearns
    Duran v. Leonard (I and II)
    Leonard v. Hearns (I)
    Hagler v. Duran
    Hagler v. Mugabi
    Hearns v. Duran

    I think you get the picture.

    Joe is a nice guy, and a class act. He is a good fighter nothing more nothing less. He is not a great fighter.

  • Comment number 68.

    I get the feeling that is Calzaghe was Mexican/Phillipino/Puerto Rican/Panamanian he would be classed as a great on here by everyone!

  • Comment number 69.

    xpat73 - '..did not have knock out power'

    70% KO's/TKO's says he did.

    Has anyone KO'd Hopkins, Kessler, Bika, Jimenez, etc? I don't think so.

    he is a 100% nailed on certainty to be in the hof. 'Good' fighters don't get into the hof, exceptional ones do.

  • Comment number 70.

    JC guy only fought bigger names when they were done. He would NEVER fight anyone good until he was sure they couldnt fight anymore. his Resume is a joke, he would sit in Wales and talk garbage about other fighters but wouldnt fight big names in US...not until he new it was safe. In 20 years time years, no one will remember him, if they do, Sven Otke will be mentioned as well
    All in all Joe Calslappy ooops Calzaghe can retire undefeated for all I care, but don't give me an argument that he deserves to be compared to all time greats like Marciano, Ali , Hagler, Hearns etc. He's not even in the same league as a Roy or Bernard, Hatton Lewis even dare I say DLH
    Lets just look at the title reign of Calzaghe. He won a vacant title against Chris Eubank. Eubank had already lost his title to Steve Collins and goes on to lose his final two fights. He was done at this point in his career. Can't blame a young Calzaghe for the fight but its a paper championship.

    Sobot and Ferreyra where his two first defenses and both guys are C level fighters [and thats being nice]. Next up is Reid who was just beat two fights before that by a guy coming off a loss. Reid is not a bad boxer but at this point was deserving of a title shot. He also lost his next fight and almost every fight he ever had against better talent. Thornberry is next. Now this is a true bum. His previous opponents had records of 5-36, 18-23, 1-0, 5-17, and 0-2. Maybe that gets you a title shot in England but over here that is a complete joke. David Starie is his next pathetic excuse for a title defense. Again how many bums does he get before doing a real defense?

    Omar Sheika is next and the first resemblance of a real fighter but even he lost EVERY title bout he was in. Next Joe tries to pass Richie Woodhall as a title contender. Woodhall had just been beaten by Beyer and than faced a guy who had lost last 5 of 6 fights. Again these aren't guys a title contender should be facing.
    How can you defend a guy with that type of resume. Look at the records of the guys he's beaten.
    Like you said, John defended his title a bunch of times, is undefeated, so if he goes on and beats 2 washed up featherweights, who were the best feathers of the 90's, Barrera and Morales, does that make him an all time great? No way, just the same goes to Joe. Sure, Hopkins and Jones were great in the 90's, but they were in their 40's when Joe got them. Bernard wasn't completely shot, so I give Joe a little credit there, but it still wasn't a decisive win. Calzaghe's certainly a very good fighter, but unproven.

    Bernard and Roy are still way better than him, by a long shot.

    I would have liked to see Joe face Dawson, a prime, young, talented light heavyweight. Had he fought and beat Chad Dawson, (which I think he is capable of doing) then I don't think there would be any doubts on his legacy. Kessler was basically another Calzaghe, protected overseas fighter. But a pretty good fighter. Lacy is garbage. Protected Kessler and a 43 year old Bernard by split decision are Joe's signature wins. and his claim to fame is defending his WBO alphabet title 20 something times against 2nd rate competition, and waiting until Roy and Bernard were over the hill to fight them. Roy was completely SHOT. So that's not the big deal Joe makes it out to be. "I beat 2 great legends, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr." But you forget to mention they were a combined 82 years old!

  • Comment number 71.

    77pence what is it with you, calzaghe and hopkins, you really have no idea what your talking about i take it from your ramblings that you have never thrown a punch yourself in your life in or out of the ring. Just tell me this has calzaghe personally offended your family or is hopkins donating 77pence to you every time you mention his name because you seem to have some real issues there. Strange man

  • Comment number 72.

    Calzaghe is a talented fighter but the biggest undefeated wuss ever! The only decent fighter he beat in their prime is Kessler. And I'm not saying he didn't have a lot of skill but he carefully chose his opponents
    Sorry I cannot respect a man that boasts after beating SHELLS of great fighters. He calls himself the best fighters without beating anyone great in their prime.

    I cannot respect a man who has fought virtually his whole career in his own protected country. He never had to face any adversity like the fighters who in the US regularly.

    I cannot respect a man who has decided to retire when he is in the financial prime of his career. He is as popular as ever, but he decides to retire because he is afraid his record would be blemished by many of the contenders.

    Most importantly, I cant respect a boxer who calls himself one of the best but doesnt fight the best. That's the problem with boxing and that "undefeated record". Boxers like Calzaghe are so scared to blemish that undefeated record that they go through their whole career not fighting the best opponents. Total disgrace. What happened to the glory days with Robinson, Chavez, Leonard, Ali, etc. who couldnt care about their record, only fighting the best. Gone, we need more warriors and less of the Calzaghe's who ruin boxing by not providing the best matchups.
    The most UGLIEST, SLOPPIEST, PITTER PATTER FIGHTER who ever lived!!! He beat an over hyped young prospect. He beat a "Contender." He pitter pattered and beat a tattooed undefeated Champion who never fought anyone with a name. He pitter pattered and squeezed out a questionable win against a Veteran. He convincingly beat an over the hill "way past his prime" slick veteran. And yet, he finds the balls to say, "I'm retiring." Calzaghe, you haven't beaten anyone!!

    It pains me to see you fight anyway. I'm so glad you're gone!!

    P.s. Wake your father up!! He's still convinced that you're the best thing next to slice bread!!

    I'm so glad you guys are gone!!!

    I could go on and on and on, the only time Calzaghe will get the respect is if he fights 1 or 2 more contenders like Hopkins and Dawson, beat them and you have respect. Sorry but Joe Calzaghe is overrated and a disgrace to boxing.
    Respect is due, but legacy is questionable.

  • Comment number 73.

    Ben - good blog, and good to see that you (a) actualy post replies and (b) aren't averse to being disgreed with. On the cricket blog, they remove your comment if you criticise Aggers! Poor love!

    Anyway, I agree with the sentiments about Lewis, and more so. Yes he was a great fighter, but he got smoked by two completely average fighters, both of whom have been beaten by some other average heavyweights. McCall even lost to Bruno, who most would agree was very average.

    Lewis seemed to be struggling for respect until he beat Tyson, but Iron Mike was completely past it by that stage - look at the guys he lost too since. Lewis didn't duck anyone, but he didn't beat that many prime fighters. I'm not even sure Holyfield was 100% at the peak of his powers in their fights.

    In my view, his best fights have ot been that widely chronicled - Grant and Golota spring to mind, but they were not big names.

    It seems that politics plays such a big part in boxing, and you have to have a mix of the right skills AND the right image to be considered great. Look at De la Hoya for proof - he got totally humiliated against Pac Man, but still was in the frame for a massive pay day against Hatton if the Hatton-Pacquiano fight fell through. Purely on his reputation.

    Calzaghe beat everyone that they put in front of him and I don't recall him ducking anyone. Perhaps he just missed out on that career defining fight (like Lewis had when he beat Tyson)

    You could make a sort of (vague) comparison with Marvin Hagler. He struggled to gain recognition for ages, whilst Leonard got it in droves. I think Hagler won their fight by the way. Point is though, he never ducked anyone and basically got on with winning fights. But because he didn't do as much PR he didn't get the recognition.

    46 fights unbeaten has to put joe near the top, if not right there at the top.

  • Comment number 74.

    Well done Joe. Glad you're retired. Some really exciting fights.

    In terms of best Bristish fighters of all time, Tommy Farr hasn't got a mention that I've seen. Another great Welsh fighter. Johnny Owen could well have been on that list if circumstances were different.

  • Comment number 75.

    Thanks Ben. I agree 100% with your article. Calzaghe IS a great fighter. I was there at arguably both his finest hours - his classic demolition of Jeff Lacy and that tough scrap with Mikkel Kessler. On both nights Joe oozed class and greatness.

    I'm a firm believer that - as a fighter - you can only beat who you put in front of you. Granted, Joe fought a few 'gimmes' as WBO champion. But he also fought Reid, Sheika, Woodhall, Brewer, Mitchell, Bika and Eubank as well as Lacy and Kessler.

    To end his career by doing what people thought he was afraid to do - fight an American on their turf - merely underlines his greatness.

    Joe, have a great retirement. You've earned it! See you in Canastota in five years at the IBHOF induction!

  • Comment number 76.

    77 Pence - you've got real chip on your shoulder about Joe being considered great. Are you from across the pond?

  • Comment number 77.

    Calzaghe has a great record, but he is NOT a great fighter.

    The only exceptional name on his resume is Hopkins. Who has Kessler beat of real note? Why not fight Jones in 1998 not 2008? What has Jeff Lacy done since he lost to Calzaghe? Why fight Peter Manfredo??

    If you look at some of the other P4P Legends at the moment, like Pacquiao, who has world class names such as Morales, Barrera, Marquez and De La Hoya on his resume, the difference is startling.

  • Comment number 78.

    good article Mr Dirs - balanced and well thought out. Please now go back to the cricket world and distract me from the looming disaster there!

    Its quite amusing to note that as you scroll down, the anti-Joe comments get longer and more hysterical. (and illiterate too in some cases)

    Lets face it, the guy is one of the greatest Brit fighters of all time. There are some criticisms to be made, but hey, let's make it objective, not this ranting that certain posters think constitutes a balanced argument.

    I think that a lot of the criticisms of Joe, eg 'ducking' opponents is more a problem with boxing as a whole rather than fighters individually - what other sport has four world champions, not to mention the plethora of lesser regarded belts? Look at David Haye - he has gone straight for the jugular by trying to land championship bouts at the first opportunity, facing credible opponents, and has ruffled the feathers of the boxing world right up! I would have thought that seeking out live and dangerous opponenets was to be commended.

  • Comment number 79.

    Sorry to see you go Joe, you were truly an awesome fighter.

    Yes, you've had you're detractors and mockers, but you stayed at the top of your game for so long you deserve to be called 'a legend'.

    There really wasn't a boxer out there who could beat you, and Jones Jr knew that, which is why he spent so long avoiding you, only finally agreeing to your bout once he realised he was going to get a major pay day.

    The Lacy and Kessler fights were simply stunning fights - the patience and discipline you showed in those fights really does mark you down as one of the all time greats. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • Comment number 80.

    Excellent article, Ben.

    I am overjoyed that Joe has decided to hang up the gloves now, undefeated as i would have hated to see his legacy tarnished by defeat to an up and coming youngster with a point to prove and a legacy of his own to build.

    Calzaghe is a true legend, a true hero and a sporting icon, he has been and is a fine ambassador for boxing and for Wales and the UK to be admired and to be proud of.

    He has been a great boxer and he has achieved all of this in good humour and in genuine and respectful manner.

    His greatest fight for me was the Kessler fight. He destroyed a fantastic boxer in his prime.

    Ultimately, I am releaved that Calzaghe is going out, unbeaten, at the top and as one of sport's all time greats.

    Congratulations, Joe, you make me proud to be British.

  • Comment number 81.

    Joe is a legend end of that argument. He tried to arrange the fight with RJJ and Hopkins years ago,but they wouldnt take it as the pay day wasnt big enough for them-so whose fault is this? Who is ducking who here? Joe fought everyone that was willing to fight him-and beat them, what more can he do? Even if he beat another overrated American in Chad,or Froch, Joe would still have people doubting him. Lewis got beat by average guys and took a rematch to beat them,Joe adapted during each fight to beat his opponent,average or class. He deserves to be known as a legend,46-0 and the americans wouldnt fight him,says it all.

  • Comment number 82.

    Joe Calzaghe was as near to perfect as you can get, in terms of pugilism. His winning mentality is unsurpassed and his ring smarts even exceeded Bernard Hopkins'.

    Joe Calzaghe is without question the most gifted boxer Britain has ever produced and in a few years time you will notice people's perceptions change as they begin to realise that a modern great performed during their lifetime. Then the universal recognition will follow.

    Happy retirement Joe, you've entertained and inspired me over the years. And for that, I am forever grateful.

    PS - Good post LFCGiant

    PPS - xpat - he was a great boxer, maybe not a great fighter, but then thats why he wasn't in the ufc. Carry on with your media machines who constantly get found out, and carry on sledging someone who you can't ever prove would lose.

  • Comment number 83.

    anybody who thinks calzaghe is the greatest british fighter of all time is making british boxing look ridiclous
    hes a good fighter but not great
    and nowhere near as good as Bhop or RJJ in thier prime

  • Comment number 84.

    Infected Beef, your comments are insulting; you would appear to have no knowledge of boxing or sport whatsoever.
    To say that you have "no respect" for Joe Calzaghe is pathetic, ignorant and embarrassing for you. I am certain that whilst you are happy to cast aspersions behind the safety barrier of an internet pseudonym, you would not make such comments to his face.

  • Comment number 85.

    Infected_beef

    Any pro boxer who puts their life and health at risk to offer us entertainment and make a living should be respected.

    the only ring you've probably been in is a hula hoop.

  • Comment number 86.

    Younger boxing fans might think im crazy, but there used to be a time when fighters, especially in the lower weights would fight each other in great fights, and not fear about 'legacy' and being unbeaten, but merely worry about testing themselves against the best and it provided for a golden era of boxing.

    I shudder to think that Marvin Hagler could have been called a great if he had ever beaten up a 43 year Jose Napoles and then cemented his legacy with a victory over a 40 year old Carlos Monzon.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think Calzaghe deserves his legendary status.

    I understand some of the doubts but in the complicated world of boxing politics how do we decide which fighter is ducking which?

    I have no doubt on occasion Calzaghe took a couple of soft fights but you don't think he'd have rather had some more big name fights when he was in his own prime? Sure Hopkins in particular was getting on in years but his recent mauling of Pavlik shows he far from shot, Jones on the other hand maybe was just to long in the tooth as a fighter but he much closer in age to Calzaghe

    There are enough impressive wins in there to show his class. It is a shame that he didn't mix it with some of the guys mentioned sooner but thats life.

    People talk about Lewis being a legend, a class fighter no doubt but the couple of losses on his record I imagine probably still make him squirm.

  • Comment number 89.

    top blog!

  • Comment number 90.

    Matches should probably have been made with German supermiddle world champions Beyer (who was quickly KOed by Kessler) and the overprotected Ottke (who always fought in Germany and won a few terrible home-town decisions), but Dariusz Michalczewski (possibly the most protected champion in the history of boxing) was a different weight class (WBO champ in light heavy and cruiser) and retired in 2004 before Joe moved up.

  • Comment number 91.

    Calzaghe, like Lewis before him, is not everyones cup of tea because he concentrated on his alround fighting skills and fought in a measured way to win, not just chasing knockouts and trying to knock peoples heads off which makes fighters a lot more popular with the public. People harp on about him being a 'slapper' and other things, but how would his detractors mastermind an opponents tactics to beat him? What style of fighter couldnt he deal with? Good luck sorting that out.

    Everyone knows that top quality and dangerous European and British fighters won't get fights in the states in their prime. American promoters are not stupid, they hold all the aces in terms of numbers of audience and money in boxing, they don't risk titles and big fights leaving their shores and happening outside of American prime time, and also have to satisfy the desire of the American public for home grown champions. Really good British fighters will only ever get big fights in the states when there is more to be gained than lost for their opponent, and that is when they are getting old and are more vulnerable, or their opponent is looking to either rehabilitate their reputation or launch their reputation by taking someone with a good record.

    I feel sorry for the people who are so one eyed they couldn't enjoy Calzaghes fights. The performance against Lacy, one of the hottest fighters around when he fought him and favourite to win the fight, was absoloutely majestic. No doubt he has taken some wrong turns in his career, but who hasn't? He himself would admit in the years prior to the Lacy fight he was getting bitterly frustrated at not being able to get bigger names in the ring with him, but I'm far from convinced the reasons behind that were just down to him. Forget his record if you like, just watch his fights. Top fighter.

  • Comment number 92.

    To me this is very simple.Calzaghe was around when some of the great boxers could and should have fought him.It was they who chose to avoid him and promoters who refused to have their man fight him-it's clear for all to see why...We should congratulate Joe i say- Joe, enjoy your family and don't come back!

  • Comment number 93.

    For me 2 knockdowns in the first round in two fights rang alarm bells that, maybe on his one last final fight, he'll get caught with one of those and thats the night father time has decided to call. Imagine the headlines on sports writer pages "Calzaghe loses to Froch or Chad Dawson (No disrespect to them ) in the first round".
    Quit while your'e ahead. He's done well

  • Comment number 94.

    To 77pence (post 70).

    I understand the argument (you've got good points) but I don't get the animosity. You come across like Joe has committed a personal affront to you (which I assume he hasn't?).

    Ranking fighters as great is subjective. For me, Mike Tyson is the best heavyweight ever but logically I know that is related to how old I was at the time when I was watching a kid not much older than me destroying everyone on the planet. Older fighters are stats in a history books so can't possibly have the same impact on me. No one else will ever come close in my eyes (rightly or more likely wrongly).

    I think there's a danger we rate the fighters of 20+ years ago over the modern ones because we've forgotten the ins and outs of their careers evolving and just been left with an overall impression of them.

    I was interested when you also said "...but don't give me an argument that he deserves to be compared to all time greats like Marciano..."

    In post 54 I churlishly picked holes in Marciano's record. He fought a few great fighters way past their best and didn't fight Patterson. In some ways it's a record comparable to Joe's but history has treated Marciano well.

    "Do people remember that he beat Joe Louis when Louis was clearly past it (age 37), won title from past it Walcott (38 years old - 16 defeats), beat shot Ezzard Charles twice (age 33 - 10 defeats), beat ancient Archie Moore (39 years old - 19 defeats) and ducked Patterson ...or do they remember that he retired as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world??"

    I'm interested to know if you think Joe will be treated well by history?

    And also whether you think in 20+ years you might be telling your kids/grand kids that the new kid on the block "is no Joe Calzaghe"?

  • Comment number 95.

    Calzaghe is a true boxing legend. Forget all of this 'if he fought Jones Jr / Hopkins years ago...' JC blew away the big american hope Jeff Lacy (the next mike tyson?!) with the most flawless boxing display I have ever witnessed (being a 24 year old).

    I agree with a lot of the threads on here in that Pavlik, prior to his humiliation by Hopkins, was the only genuine BIG fight out there for JC. So, since Pavlik's loss he has nothing to prove. Chad Dawson / Carl Froch, these guys don't get a legend like Calzaghe going.. so there are no big fights out there left for JC.

    Boxing fans of my generation will always rate JC as the best ever British boxer, let's be honest, he was a heck of a lot better to watch than Lennox.

    46 / 46, job done, money in the bank, place in the boxing hall of fame secured.

  • Comment number 96.

    Congrats on a remarkably successful career and enjoy your retirement in sunny Blackwood. The best bit of news I heard yesterday was hearing that he was born in ENGLAND. You've done your fellow englishmen proud Joe!!!!!! That's for my Welsh father-in-law ;-)

  • Comment number 97.

    Just have to say the last few years of Joe's career have been truly incredible. He has achieved the unbelieveable and I am so proud as a Welshman and a Brit to have been at the big occasions (especially Lacy, Kessler and Vegas) where one of my countrymen have truly delivered the goods and never let us down. His dedication, spirit and ability have been put to fantastic use and it shows how sensible he is to bow out now at the very top rather than become a cruel parody of himself like so many of his peers.

    He is a true legend of sport and his legacy will be immense. Thanks for the memories Joe and good luck in your new life!

  • Comment number 98.

    to fatdwaarf (post 94)

    I feel you are absolutely right that time has a great effect on how champions are looked on, and we probably wont be able to judge accurately about Calzaghe, or any other recently retired fighter until a few more years down the line.

    I think the Marciano example is exceptionally valid, and i cant see those who rate Marciano very highly, could detract from the record of Calzaghe, who you could say are quite comparable.

    Both beat marquee fighters of their time, but it would be foolish to argue that Joe Louis was the force he once was, as we all know he was fighting merely to keep the IRS at bay, just as it would be foolish to suggest that Roy Jones Junior was at his best, when all saw his scary aging over night between his greatest triumph and they being ko'd by bums.

    In terms of how he will be viewed, In Britain he will be lauded as one of the all time greats, because of how we hype our sports stars here, in America he will be ridiculed as a protected fighter, because he is British - i suspect the truth lingers somewhere in the middle.

    Im not a Calzaghe fan, and my one regret is that i dont think we will ever know how good he could have been, because he didnt test himself early enough, and there is too much emphasis in the modern age of keeping as perfect record as possible. Regardless of losses, i would certainly put a fighter like Sonny Liston, over Marciano in terms of boxing ability, in terms of achievement, then obviously Marciano has the edge.

    In terms of achievement, no one can take away the decade long reign and 20 defences, but in terms of ability, we cant truly say, because we never saw him go one on one with an all time great who wasnt haplessly old.

    A question to you fatdwaarf which might help illustrate my point, how do you think Calzaghe would have got on in the golden era of Hagler/leonard/duran/hearns/Benitez?

  • Comment number 99.

    I think a lot of this criticism comes from American commentators who just can't believe that someone from outside their country could be great.

    Calzaghe was victim to all the same criticism before each big fight: that he didn't punch hard, wouldn't fight outside Wales and was, broadly, a sham.

    Everyone told us he wouldn't beat Lacy (there wasn't any talk of Lacy being over-rated or anything other than the real deal before that fight) - he destroyed him.

    Everyone told us Kessler would show him up. Calzaghe won.

    Everyone said he would be showed up as a pat-pat merchant by a true great like Hopkins. Guess who won again?

    Then it was, Roy Jones Jr will desroy him. He won't beat a true great. It was only after Joe won that RJJ was suddenly past it.

    Hatton had the same when every US commentator told us how great Paulie Malignaggi was and look what happened there (BTW America does have a true great in Mayweather).

    Yes, Joe stayed a home a lot and didn't go to America, but if he was such a no-one why didn't all those great US boxers come over and whup him in his back yard. These things work both ways.

    Great hand speed and movement, a better puncher than he was given credit for and a truly great champion.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think the important thing to remember is that at this point in time, who else is there that would prove a suitable opponent for a man of Calzaghes record? Mary Popkins he has already beaten (admittedly tough fight but he edged it), RJJ is washed up, Pavlik doesnt deserve a shot after the hiding he took from Pops, Mundines style would be interesting but hasn't done enough yet and looks like hes going to fade into obscurity, Dawson is too inexperienced and doesn't deserve a shot yet, and Kessler he outpointed brilliantly. If Froch goes on to beat Taylor and then possibly Kessler and/or Popkins which I doubt he will, then there may be a credible challenger and at that stage, and calls for Calzaghe to come out of retirement to reclaim the unified SM belts would be legitimate.
    Truth is for the next 1-2 years, there is no reason why an ambitious fighter like Calzaghe should resort to rematches purely for financial gains. They say that Joe is still pretty much intact mentally and physically - who knows maybe there might be a fight a couple of years down the line, providing the belts have been unified by that stage, which would be too good to refuse for Calzaghe and a chance to make history along the same lines as Sugar Ray Leonard. Otherwise I thank JC as a fan for the way he fought everyone they put him in against.

 

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