Boxing: Calzaghe and Takaloo face critical test of talent

Welshman's WBO super-middleweight title defence should lead to Hopkins bout while Margate maverick meets tough Puerto Rican

Confidence can end careers if a fighter has too much and tomorrow night at Cardiff Castle Joe Calzaghe will have to be careful when he defends his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title against Puerto Rico's Miguel Jimenez.

Calzaghe is finally and officially just a few rounds away from a defining fight against the American Bernard Hopkins, but first he must overcome Jimenez, whose credentials are dangerous because he is so ordinary. The list of dazed and confused favourites is long and illustrious in boxing folklore and last year's disaster in South Africa involving Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman is a perfect example of what can go wrong when a fighter loses his edge in a fight he must not lose.

Calzaghe has admittedly been at this stage numerous times before and he must, at 30, be weary of the promises he has been made in the past. However, Calzaghe's promoter, Frank Warren, has simply lost out because to secure a truly big fight has up until now simply cost him too much. "I could match Joe with any of his major rivals right now if I was prepared to lose five or six million pounds,'' said Warren, who is running out of patience with anybody doubting his conviction to put Calzaghe in a really tough fight.

So, assuming Calzaghe keeps his chin tucked safely behind his gloves, and Jimenez, who, at 32, has not yet shared a ring with a genuine world-class fighter, starts to tire, runs out of ideas and folds in about five rounds there is a genuine chance of a meaningful fight involving Calzaghe in the near future. Calzaghe deserves it because he is arguably one of the top British fighters in history and recognition has been slow.

The real fight at the Castle involves an outspoken and annoying Puerto Rican called Daniel Santos in defence of his WBO light-middleweight title against Margate's Takaloo. It is the type of fight that is unlikely to last very long, but will be extremely exciting until the final punch either sends one of them down for the full count or persuades the referee that the vicious entertainment should stop.

Calzaghe is a proper world-class fighter, but boxers like Santos and Takaloo have a place in the new order of the modern sport because so often relatively unknown boxers take part in some of the sport's very best contests. It is likely to be that way after the first bell tomorrow night.

Takaloo actually holds the World Boxing Union title and, in theory, his belt will also be on the line, but Santos has repeatedly said in the past that he is looking beyond the type of fights he has recently been having and wants to place his name next to some of the sport's genuine stars at his weight. First, on a night that promises to be warm rather than wet, he will have somehow to overcome Takaloo's strength and win.

For Takaloo, tomorrow's fight is just the latest in a long line of nights in the ring when he has entered as underdog but has refused to accept that he is there just to make up the numbers. There was a point in his career after a couple of early losses when it looked like he would simply fade away but his determination since being trained by Jim McDonnell is quite remarkable.

"On paper Santos looks like the favourite because he has been in with some bigger names, but a funny thing can happen in that ring and I know I can take care of him,'' said Takaloo. Santos, however, honestly believes he can repeat his last win in Britain when he knocked out Belfast's Neil Sinclair in two rounds.

Santos and Takaloo will fight before Calzaghe enters the makeshift stadium for what will undoubtedly be yet another fight that proves he is finally becoming a true star in Wales. It has not been easy for Calzaghe after a slow few years under the cautious promotion of Micky Duff, but there is genuine reason for elation now because Warren is quietly confident that he can pull off the big one in the near future. Calzaghe knows too much to lose tomorrow and he could also win if ever he shares the ring with Hopkins. I know that is what he wants because I have just finished narrating a film about his career so far.

* Joe Calzaghe: Gloves Off (10pm on BBC2 Wales)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / Analyst (CIMA finalist/newly qualified)

£32000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / F...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of a mark...

Recruitment Genius: Help Desk Specialist

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides Reliabili...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor