Boxing: Calzaghe can strike it rich on home soil
Monday 26 January 1998
Promoter Frank Warren predicted a multi-million pound future for Joe Calzaghe, the World Boxing Organisation super middleweight champion, following the Newbridge southpaw's third-round defeat of the Croatian challenger Branco Sobot in Cardiff on Saturday. And, said Warren, Calzaghe can make his fortune without selling his soul to the American fight game.
In December, Warren promoted his first show in the United States: the successful fight-card at New York's self-proclaimed "Mecca of Boxing", Madison Square Garden, that featured the World Boxing Organisation's featherweight champion Naseem Hamed's thriller against Kevin Kelley. Warren has also forged links with the powerful US subscription TV giant, Home Box Office. But the promoter claims that major British talents such as Hamed and Calzaghe need not rely on that all-mighty dollar in order to strike it rich.
"Joe's next defence will probably be in Britain and then we will take him to New York or Atlantic City. Hopefully, for a unification fight," Warren said.
"I'm positive that Joe will be a huge success in the States. He's an exciting fighter and a devastating puncher.
"But America is only the icing on the cake. People seem to believe that myself and my fighters will have no control over our futures, that we will be swallowed up by the Americans and spat out when they have no further use for us. But nothing could be further from the truth. We don't need America in order to be successful: when we negotiate with American organisations, we negotiate from a position of strength."
Warren was speaking after a close-to-capacity crowd at the 5,000-seat Cardiff International Arena had watched the 25-year-old Calzaghe destroy Sobot with an elaborate but brutally effective bolo punch after one minute and 35 seconds of round three.
The rugged-looking challenger, who four years ago was a front-line soldier in the war that engulfed the former Yugoslavia, remarkably made it to his feet in time to beat referee Paul Thomas' count. But the 26-year-old from Zagreb was rescued under-fire moments later.
Calzaghe, a three-time ABA champion unbeaten in eight years, including 24 bouts (22 KOs) since turning professional in October 1993, displayed the kind of punching power that simultaneously collapses opponents in heaps and makes the public sit-up and pay attention. As with his title- winning effort against Chris Eubank three months ago, this latest victory, admittedly against a fringe middleweight contender fighting at 11st 6lb in a 12st division, marked Calzaghe as a British fighter of rare ability and potential.
A father of three who still trains in the same council-owned gym-with- no-ring where he was introduced to the sport as a 10-year-old, and who is still trained by his Sardinian-born father, Enzo, Calzaghe describes himself as: "Like Naseem but without the bullshit."
Warren points out that the WBO champions share more than just a penchant for picking the rounds in which their opponents will fall (Calzaghe had predicted a third-round finish against substitute Sobot, who lost for the second time in 16 fights).
"Naseem was set up for life long before making his American debut at the end of the last year: he was already a massive star in Britain and a pay-per-view attraction to rival any of the big heavyweight names," Warren said.
"Joe Calzaghe can do every bit as well as Naz - if he doesn't, I won't have done my job properly."
If Calzaghe fails, it is unlikely to be through any fault of the promoters. Unifying the four major championships is within the Welshman's capabilities - politically, through Warren's growing influence, and physically, through his own enormous natural talent - while big-money fights against former champions Nigel Benn and Steve Collins, formerly under contract to Warren and currently in retirements that are expected to end before too long, could present themselves before 1998 is over.
Latest in Sport
Daniel Sturridge injury: Alongside Luis Suarez, how the Liverpool SAS may FAIL to become the most lethal partnership in Premier League history
Daniel Sturridge injury: Liverpool striker to have tests on hamstring problem
Diego Costa transfer to Chelsea impossible to stop, admits Diego Simeone
Hillsborough disaster anniversary: Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez among those at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 who lost their lives
Daniel Sturridge injury latest: Liverpool striker has 'small strain' and will be given chance to prove fitness for Norwich game
- 1 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 2 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 3 Man on a leash in Farringdon, London: Mystery of 'walkies' solved
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline bribed doctors to boost sales, says whistleblower
David Cameron: 'Jesus invented the Big Society – I'm just continuing God's work'
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...
£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...