World Champion Joe Calzaghe Defends Britannia

BY David A. Avila ON October 10, 2006
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Americans just don’t respect British fighters, so when Joe Calzaghe met our own Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy earlier this year it was expected to be a rout comparable to the Battle of New Orleans.

Turns out it was more the Battle of Waterloo.

Calzaghe proved more elusive than a British submarine and befuddled the Mike Tysonesque ability of Lacy who had clubbed his way to the IBF title. Calzaghe now holds the WBO and IBF super middleweight titles and defends them against Sakio Bika (20-1-2, 13 KOs) on Saturday in England. It will be televised by HBO Boxing After Dark.

Maybe it’s in the tea?

“He put on a wonderful performance against Jeff Lacy,” said promoter Frank Warren. “Especially since he was not supposed to win.”

Sure Lennox Lewis claimed to be British but he won the Olympic gold medal as a Canadian. So that doesn’t count. Calzaghe is a true Brit and he can fight.

Known as the Italian Dragon because of his Italian ethnicity, Calzaghe of Wales has mostly defended his title in Europe against boxers whose names the American boxing fan won’t even attempt to pronounce correctly. But beating Lacy should turn things around.

“I was judged for that one performance. I trained like an animal in the rain and in the snow. I was going to be prepared to go to war,” said Calzaghe (41-0, 31 KOs) during a telephone press conference. “He (Lacy) came in thinking he was going to walk through me.”

Lacy was banking on the reputation of British fighters all the way back to Lord Cornwallis whose mighty army surrendered in Yorktown more than 230 years ago. Instead he found Calzaghe was more like Winston Churchill. Buzz bombs weren’t going to stop him.

For 12 rounds Calzaghe outmaneuvered Lacy much like the British Spitfires out-flew the German Messerschmidts during the Battle of Britain. Every time Lacy launched a bomb Calzaghe casually was out of range and every time Lacy stopped firing, Calzaghe peppered him like a 50-caliber machine gun.

The war was really over in the seventh round though technically it went the 12-round distance.

“Of course I thought it was going to be tougher. I prepared for the biggest fight in my life,” Calzaghe said. “He was just shellshocked.”

Because Calzaghe was only seen twice on television by an American audience, few expected the slick-moving boxer to humiliate Lacy. But those fans who witnessed Lacy’s problems against Omar Sheika and Richard Grant realized a scientific boxer could prove more perplexing than Rubik’s Cube.

Now Calzaghe intends to invade American shores.

Not to retake the colonies. But to show that a British bulldog still exists.

“It would be great to have at least one fight in the United States,” Calzaghe says. “Even if the fight was with Winky Wright or Jermain Taylor, yes I would be willing to come.”

Better wake up Paul Revere cause the British are coming back.

Evaluating Valuev

WBA heavyweight titleholder Nikolai Valuev battered Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett like a tetherball for 11 rounds before the fight was stopped. The seven-foot giant who weighed in at 306 pounds was too strong and too skilled despite his rather slow punching.

Barrett tried his best to wallop the big galoot but Valuev’s chin might be too strong for a semi-hard-hitting heavyweight. But let’s see what happens when a real heavy hitter like IBF titleholder Wladimir Klitschko of the Ukraine can do to the big Russian.

Valuev showed he can throw straight punches and fire combinations if needed. The big drawback is he throws the same combinations repeatedly and a savvy fighter like WBO titleholder Sergei Liakhovich will use that against him.

Though Valuev doesn’t seem to have jaw-cracking power like Lamon Brewster, he can deliver a lot of force with those 300-plus pounds on his frame. That’s a lot of Russian beef.

Corrales aftermath

Irony of ironies, Diego Corrales failed to make weight in his lightweight world championship defense against Joel Casamayor. Then he lost a split-decision to the clever Cuban fighter.

Corrales is contemplating retirement after the loss. Casamayor suffered a knockdown in the fifth round when he slipped on Corrales foot while absorbing a punch. It was ruled a knockdown but that proved to be not enough for a Corrales victory.

Casamayor now holds the WBC lightweight title and wants a fight against Mexico’s Marco Antonio Barrera.

Fights on television

Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Steve Luevano (31-1) vs. Baudel Cardenas (15-6-2).

Sat. ESPN2, 5 p.m., Peter Manfredo Jr. (25-3) vs. Joey Spina (19-0-1); Allan Green (22-0) vs. Jerson Ravelo (17-1).

Sat. HBO, 11 p.m., Joe Calzaghe (41-0) vs. Sakio Bika (20-1-2).

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