Boxing: Calzaghe fends off Mkrtchian's taunts

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The Independent Online

ON THE EVE of their World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight fight, Joe Calzaghe has dismissed the claims of his opponent, Armenia's Mger Mkrtchian, that he will be an easy knock-out.

The 31-year-old Calzaghe is Britain's longest-serving world champion but he admits that in 36 fights very few of his opponents have bothered him as much as Mkrtchian.

"It has often been difficult to get up for fights against unknown and unpronounceable boxers but this guy has done his best to try and get under my skin by claiming he is going to knock me out," Calzaghe said.

Mkrtchian says he has studied Calzaghe's last and, arguably, his best fight when the Welshman suffered a knockdown for the first time. That night last summer, Calzaghe regained his feet to knock out America's Byron Mitchell in round two but Mkrtchian believes he can keep him down.

"Every time I hear him give me stick, it motivates me a bit more,'' said Calzaghe, who may quit the super-middleweight division and challenge for a world title at light-heavyweight. "That is good because at this stage in my career I am looking for bigger, better and possibly heavier things."