Boxing: Britain's magnificent seven ensure fight game finishes on top of world

The Hitman may have hit the deck, but 2007 was the year in which British boxing hit the heights. The battered old game's comeback anticlimaxed when Ricky Hatton ran into a reality check in Las Vegas, but otherwise it was a prodigious 12 months which produced a record seven world champions, one of them Joe Calzaghe, voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, while the coach of the year just happens to be his dad.

Boxing hasn't had it so good here since Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank strutted their stuff, or received such popular endorsement since "Bruno, Bruno" rever-berated around Wembley.

Television channels scrapped again for big-fight rights. Setanta squared up to Sky, while the BBC, whose anti-boxing chief, Peter Fincham, went following that royal seal of disapproval, have started to climb back into a ring hitherto dominated by ITV.

The Government even recognised that while bombs and bullets kill people in the Middle East, a legitimate punch on the nose is the least of society's ills. Hence their backing for boxing's overdue return to schools. So the politically correct brigade got biffed and the noble art, at least for the time being, saw off the challenge of Mixed Martial Arts, aka Ultimate Fighting.

The nature of orthodox gloved combat proved irresist-ible as the 35-year-old Calzaghe drew a crowd of 50,000-plus to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, unifying the world super-middleweight title against Mikkel Kessler. Calzaghe, with his trainer-father Enzo riding shotgun, heads British boxing's Magnificent Seven as the only undisputed world champ, alongside his Celtic stablemates Enzo Maccarinelli, the WBO cruiserweight, and Gavin Rees, the WBA light-welterweight.

Junior Witter's possession of the one light-weltertitle that Hatton has never held, the WBC, is an outstanding accomp-lishment,as is David Haye's hold,recently acquired, on both the WBC and WBA cruiserweight belts. And Clinton Woods returned from injury to retain the IBF light-heavyweight title.

World title No 7 is undis-puted, the one secured by the southpaw Frankie Gavin, an occasional spar-mate of Amir Khan, at lightweight in the World Amateur Championships. Britain's first gold was one of three medals won in Chicago by a sport enjoying an even healthier renaissance than the pro game.

Actually, if you throw in Hatton's still-held but scantly regarded IBO light-welter title, the UK's world title count reaches eight. Sadly, the days when there were only eight champions in all weight divisions (from fly to heavy) are long gone. Now, winning a world title can be as easy as ABC. This is not to diminish the achievements of the battling Brits, nor should we dismiss the Hitman's endeavours in a year which saw epic collisions of talent but the bursting of the bubble that was Audley Harrison. There may have been only one Ricky Hatton, but there was also only one Floyd Mayweather, a master of the noble arts who collates sublime defensive skills with awesomelyinstinctive finishing power.

Our man's seductive self-belief trapped many into believing that he was better equipped than he was for such a task. He fought gamely but without the guile necessary to ensnare a distinguished champion.

Kid Khan came of age, also floored but thankfully not irrevocably flawed, as the fast-rising star destined to ensure that boxing's beat goes on in 2008.

Reasons to be cheerful

1. Another mega Calzaghe classic, possibly against Bernard Hopkins. Then farewell Joe?

2. The biggest home fight for 15 years with Haye and Maccarinelli unifying world cruiserweight title on 8 March.

3. Frankie Gavin leading best-ever GB amateur squad in Beijing Olympic medal quest.

4. Matt Skelton's challenge for world heavyweight title at 40-something in Dsseldorf.

5. More razzle-dazzle from Amir Khan in quest to become youngest world champion.

6. Super-feather Kevin Mitchell emerging as another British world-beating prospect.

Alan Hubbard

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
A speech made by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister urging women not to laugh in public in order to preserve morality has sparked a backlash on social media from women posting defiant selfies of themselves laughing at his remarks.
GALLERYWhy are Turkish women having a chuckle at the government's expense?
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN KS1 Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Qualified and experi...

KS2 Teacher

£21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Exceptional teacher ...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to be part ...

Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are currently recruitin...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star