On your mark, get set, go to town for the Welsh Invasion

You’ve got to hand it to the folks at HBO. For the hardworking boxing journalists who are either too busy, too harried or too poor to eat, Mssrs. Ross Greenberg, Kery Davis et al treat the members of the press with the kind of dignity they deserve but to which they’re still unaccostomed.

The latest excuse for generosity from HBO to the ink-stained wretches who cover the noble art was to introduce Joe Calzaghe and Enzo Maccarinelli to those of us in New York, at an appropriately exclusive luncheon/presser/get together on Tuesday afternoon at a fancy restaurant on 57th Street.

The two Welsh fighters, who grew up within blocks of one another, WBO/IBF super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe (42-0, 31 KOs) and WBO cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli (25-1, 18 KOs) flew to the U.S., Florida to be exact, to attend the WBO convention and meet Golden Boy Promotions’ Oscar De la Hoya on Saturday, and finally got around to hitting, and taking a big bite out of, the Big Apple this afternoon.

“This is an excellent chance to build their profile further in the US, their promoter Frank Warren said. “I think these two guys can definitely crack America, because their exciting styles, one (Calzaghe) is a master boxer, whereas the other (Big Macc) has power to spare, will make them friends wherever they go.”

Warren is right. The gracious Calzaghe and energetic Maccarinelli are likely to make friends whenever and wherever they go, and while they haven’t taken the United States by storm, at least not yet, it won’t be long before one or both of them makes his mark on this side of the pond. (There’s a tentative HBO date for the two of them to fight on the same card in February. There’s also a big possible show at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.)

“I’d love to fight over here next year, said Calzaghe, and appearing at Madison Square Garden would be fantastic with my Italian-Celtic heritage. I’ve had a few people coming up to me in the street asking for my autograph, and that’s a bit crazy, but it shows they have been watching my fights.”

With thoughts of unification in mind, Maccaranelli said he’d “love to fight O’Neil Bell over here in February. Winning the WBO world title has opened a lot of doors for me, but it’s important to keep my feet on the ground and not get too carried away.”

Neither Calzaghe nor Maccarinelli is likely to be carried away by the hoopla they generated in New York this afternoon, but for fight fans impressed by the men and their actions in and out of the ring, it might just be another story.