Boxing: Reid is `winner' in defeat

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The Independent Online
"You'll never see Joe Calzaghe fight that badly again, that was awful," said the undefeated World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight champion following his split decision victory over a fired-up Robin Reid at the Telewest Arena, Newcastle, on Saturday evening. But it will be at least six months before Calzaghe gets the chance to clear his name as he is once again sidelined by an injury to his left hand.

Calzaghe had hoped that beating Reid, a former World Boxing Council champion, would set up a big-money clash with Ireland's Steve Collins. Collins and Calzaghe had been due to meet in October 1997, when Collins was WBO champion. But the Dubliner claimed that, having twice beaten both Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn, he would not be able to motivate himself for the unsung Welshman. Collins announced his retirement and Calzaghe went on to beat Eubank for the vacant title.

But the Newbridge southpaw, like so many of boxing's big hitters, has suffered terribly with his hands. Since beating Eubank, Calzaghe has been restricted to just two defences. The bulk of 1998 was spent recuperating after hand surgery and now 1999 will be a similarly frustrating year for the 26-year-old.

The promoter, Frank Warren, believes Calzaghe, who won for the 26th time, can replace the recently departed Naseem Hamed as the star of his stable, and representatives from the big two American cable TV networks, Home Box Office and Showtime, were at ringside in Newcastle to watch the WBO champion at work.

But it will not have been a totally wasted journey for them as they cannot have failed to be impressed by the courage and determination of Runcorn's Reid, who had been given little chance against the Welshman. Reid began to land frequent and heavy shots as the fight unfolded and he was always competitive. It was, however, surprising that one judge made him the winner by so wide a score as 116-111, particularly as that was Calzaghe's margin of victory according to the other two judges.

But Reid, 27, has breathed fresh life into his career. The loss was his second in 29 fights (one draw) but now, with Calzaghe off the scene, he emerges as the logical challenger for his old title, which Telford's Richie Woodhall successfully defended against Italian southpaw Vincenzo Nardiello in the chief supporting bout at Newcastle.

In the American half of a Sky Box Office pay-per-view double-header, "Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya, come through the stiffest test of his career to retain his WBC light-welterweight (10 st) title for the sixth time, by a split decision against the previously unbeaten Ghanaian, Ike "Bazooka" Quartey. The scores were 116-113 and 116-112 for De La Hoya, 115-114 for Quartey.

The contest came to life early in round six, when a De La Hoya hook dropped Quartey on the seat of his pants. Moments later the champion was down and in trouble but, inexplicably, Quartey never forced home the advantage and the former World Boxing Association champion missed his chance of victory.