Hats off to Joe Calzaghe for his unanimous points victory over the legendary American boxer Roy Jones Jr last night.
It was one of his best displays in the squared circle and possibly a fitting end to his glittering career, but whether it’s gloves off for Calzaghe remains to be seen.
The 36-year-old Welshman suffered a first round knock down in the famous Madison Square Garden venue in New York, only to get up off the canvas and dominate Jones and claim a one-sided win, with all three judges scoring the fight 118-109 to Calzaghe.
Calzaghe is now undefeated in 46 fights over an 18 year period – the best boxing record by any British fighter.
Only three more wins will level him with one of the all time greats, the American-Italian heavyweight Rocky Marciano.
Since moving up to light-heavyweight earlier this year – beating the other American nemesis Bernard Hopkins – Calzaghe has said he feels a lot better for it, now he doesn’t have to punish his body to make the 12-stone (168lb) super-middleweight division, which he dominated for 11 glorious years.
In the lead up to the Jones contest, Calzaghe also said he wishes he never mentioned he wanted to retire and, in the immediate Jones post-fight conference, he also did not commit to saying he would retire.
It is making some observers – including me – to suggest the lure of one more lucrative multi-million pound deal might prove too tempting for the southpaw from Newbridge, South Wales.
Calzaghe is now at a stage in his career where he’s achieved everything he’s set out to achieve, but unfortunately only now do the cynical American boxing fraternity recognise his achievements. And Calzaghe is a huge draw for viewers tuning into the big spending American box office TV networks.
But who is left for Calzaghe to beat? There is already talk of a Jones rematch over here on the British shores, but what does that prove?
I hope the 39-year-old Jones hangs up his gloves because he confirmed his status as a legend of the sport of boxing five years ago when he became the first middleweight to claim the coveted heavyweight world title in more than 100 years. A true great.
Calzaghe has now got rid of all doubts about his credentials having arrived on the boxing scene when the golden era of Nigel Benn, Michael Watson, Chris Eubank and Steve Collins had evaporated. He, of course, defeated Eubank memorably in 1997 in his first world-title fight at super-middleweight.
But it has taken a while for the British public, minus the Welsh, to really back him. For instance, I recall watching him live against David Starie, whilst waiting for Mike Tyson to make his first bow in the British ring in Manchester, and it was possibly the dullest 12-round contest I’ve ever witnessed.
However, Calzaghe convinced me – finally – when he defeated the dangerous American prospect Jeff Lacy two years ago in another one-sided points win in the Lancashire city.
I would urge him, like Jones, to hang up his gloves and go out with a fairytale ending.
Calzaghe has made plenty of millions from the sport; he owns property all over the Mediterranean, and remains in good health.
He should relax and have a laugh – rumours have started circulating he’s getting involved with recording a song for Christmas with the Stereophonics.
If his career in pop music is anywhere near as successful as his boxing who knows what will happen, but I seriously doubt it will be of course!