He’s reigned so long, maybe it’s time to build an ark.
Joe Calzaghe doesn’t like flying, anyway, and the WBO super middleweight (that means 168 pounds) title-holder since 1997 has made 18 successful defenses. He is undefeated in 40 pro fights with 31 knockouts. In 13 years of earning his pay by hurting people, Calzaghe has been knocked down only once.
Add to that he’s left-handed, fairly accurate with good power, and you have a guy with little respect. Why? Well, he has never fought the best and has refused to travel to do so. Every time it seems a big fight is close, he gets a boo-boo.
Which is why, though he will again have the home-court edge, he is a deserving underdog to Jeff Lacy in a unification bout of not only significance, but probably of great entertainment.
On a teleconference call with the press the other day, one reporter asked Calzaghe if he had a cold March 4, would he still show up. Hey, guys get injured, and especially punchers with brittle hands.
Lacy, the undefeated alphabet champion (21-0 with 17 knockouts) has the stamp of greatness on his chiseled body. He is a Mike Tyson type aggressor (without the emotional and psychological baggage), with heavy, heavy hands. His punches lack the speed and sharpness of a Tyson, perhaps, but under the tutelage of Dan Birmingham (Winky Wright’s longtime mentor), he has developed into one of the best fighters in the world.
It seems almost unfair that Lacy is getting rather good at slipping punches on the way to doing his nasty stuff up close and personal. I would not be surprised if Lacy, rather than face the unbeaten Dane Mikhal Kessler, who holds another 168-pound title, went for bigger game at light-heavyweight and cruiser.
Even in Manchester, a train ride from Calzaghe’s Welsh home, before a hostile crowd, Lacy deserves to be 8-5 or 9-5. He’ll probably be a bargain at Ladbrokes, Joe Coral or any of the British shops, but this is not going to be a walk in the park for him.
Calzaghe can box.punch and he is good. My feeling is that Lacy may go on to be great. This is a major test of that hypothesis. Whichever way it goes, the matchup is certain to please. Showtime has the day’s winner.
Over on HBO, it’s shlock, just something live to anchor the show for the tape replay of the Fernando Vargas-Sugar Shane Mosley pay-per-view feature.
In the live main event, the multitalented undefeated Puerto Rican, Miguel Cotto, gets to perform in front of the home folk against an almost "gimme" Gianluca Branco, the Italian drudge who went the distance with Arturo Gatti in another HBO gift to its favorites.
Odds are Cotto goes on to June 10 and a fun fight against the audaciously light-hitting Paul Malignaggi in Madison Square Garden, the night before New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade.
That same night, there’s another scheduled pay-per-view show, down the Garden State Parkway in Atlantic City between two faded old stars, Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins.
My, my, for a "dying" sport, there seems almost to be too much going on. Take March 4. Not only England and Puerto Rico are sites of title fights. In Scotland, Scott Harrison’s featherweight trinket is in much danger against Joan (no, it’s a guy) Guzman. It’s another bout where you might get a more generous price if you can shop in Britain.
Then somewhere in the jungles of Indonesia, Juan Manuel Marquez (the best featherweight in the world now that Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao have abandoned the division) goes after a belt to replace the one that the IBFelons ripped off him because no promoter bid for his mandatory defense.
Marquez challenges Chris John, sight unseen here. Unless there is some hanky-panky from the WBAllbreakers, the slick-boxing Mexican should prevail. But he’d better be uncharacteristically aggressive and go for the knockout, just to be sure.
Well, you win some, you lose some. Chapter III of the scintillating Jose Luis Castillo-Diego Corrales trilogy, postponed from last month when Corrales injured some ribs in training, has now been rescheduled for Las Vegas on June 3. But the March 25 underdog special, Jesus Chavez (+260 when I last looked at the board at Mandalay Bay) needs surgery and will be out six months.
The operation will delay, maybe even cancel, his March 25 assignment with Marco Antonio Barrera (who was -320). I thought Chavez, at 135 pounds, may have been too big for the Mexican superstar. He certainly would have been a live underdog.