It has been a long six months for Joe Calzaghe since his last performance in the ring, but tonight in Braunschweig, Germany, he will finally put an end to a bad period in his career.
Calzaghe has been so close to overcoming various prejudices and securing a place in the shortlist of truly great British boxers that it is easy to forget that at some point in all boxers' careers they do get old and when that happens they can lose.
In theory, Calzaghe, who is 33, was to have met one of two top Americans at some point during the last four years but injuries and events worked against him and tonight he finds himself going over old ground when he meets Mario Veit. In April 2001, Veit was knocked out in just 112 seconds by Calzaghe, but the German now has home advantage for a challenge that nobody truly expected.
The loss to Calzaghe remains the only defeat that Veit has suffered in his 46-fight career and there are clear signs that tonight's encounter could be not just a little bit longer but also potentially difficult for the Welshman.
It will be Calzaghe's 16th defence of the World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title that he won in October 1997 in a genuine thriller against Chris Eubank.
Since his last fight in December 2004, when he won on points against an Egyptian called Kabary Salem, Calzaghe has been going through a divorce. The split has been acrimonious and played out in public, which has been part of the reason why he has not fought since that night.
Against Veit tonight Calzaghe will have to exercise just a little bit more patience than he has in other fights because victory will not come quite so easily and there is a genuine chance that if the fight lasts the full distance of 12 rounds that Calzaghe could indeed be on the wrong end of a bad decision.
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