Boxing: Calzaghe's world title under threat from Mitchell
Friday 27 June 2003
Often in boxing the most difficult opponents are the most boring, and tomorrow night Joe Calzaghe meets Byron Mitchell in a fight that is extremely dangerous.
Calzaghe, 30, will be defending his World Boxing Organisation super middleweight title for the 13th time against Mitchell in front of a wildly partisan crowd at the Cardiff International Arena but home advantage means little in any fight between experienced pros.
Mitchell, 29, has been an influential but neglected player in the super-middleweight division for about three years and has always conducted himself with class on both sides of the ropes. The Florida native has lost just twice in 28 fights and was the World Boxing Association champion in March of this year.
The most threateningof Mitchell's credentials is his proven ability to snatch victory in the closing stages of gruelling fights. In June 1999 Mitchell was trailing heavily on all three scorecards before knocking out Frankie Liles in round 11 to win the title for the first time, and he did the exact same thing in March 2001 when he beat Manny Siaca in the 12th round to win the title for the second time.
Mitchell lost his first title on points in Paris to the Frenchman Bruno Girard and his second reign ended when he the fought current International Boxing Federation champion, Sven Ottke, in Berlin in March this year. The Ottke defeat was a split decision and that was the last time he fought.
During the last two months three or four decent fighters have been linked with Calzaghe for tomorrow night's fight but none would have brought to the ring the very real danger that Mitchell does. It is hard to argue against Mitchell being the best fighter that Calzaghe has fought during his 10-year career and its unbeaten sequence of 35 fights.
However, Mitchell, while being a respectable puncher, is a gently spoken nice guy with technical ability rather than rugged charisma and he arrived in Cardiff this week promising a good, clean fight and clearly happy with the prospect of meeting a good boxer. Mitchell, in other words, is a bit dull for the extreme end of the boxing market and that is exactly why his fight with Calzaghe is so intriguing.
There was a time when Calzaghe looked destined to join the Nineties legends Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn and Steve Collins as one of the nation's best known fighters. In 1997, Calzaghe beat Eubank to win the title but since then, in 12 solid defences, he has struggled to get the recognition he deserves. That should change tomorrow evening, however, in what is surely one of the very best world title fights to take place in Britain for many, many years.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal transfer news: Atletico Madrid closing in on Santi Cazorla - reports
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger set to cancel moves for Sami Khedira and Morgan Schneiderlin in favour of Jack Wilshere - reports
Arturo Vidal: Manchester United bid £39m for Juventus midfielder
Chelsea transfer news: Jose Mourinho wants both Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech to stay at Stamford Bridge
Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...