Boxing: Extraordinary as Joe whips up a two-round storm

Uunlucky for some? Not Joe Calzaghe. In the 13th defence of his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title and in his 13th year undefeated as an amateur or pro, the 31-year-old Welshman claimed his most dramatic victory when he became the first man to stop the accomplished American Byron Mitchell last night.

He did so after being knocked down for the first time in his career, an embarrassment which spurred him to drive back Mitchell in a furious hail of punches which forced referee Dave Parris to step in after 2min 36sec of the second round.

The packed Cardiff International Arena throbbed with Celtic passion as Calzaghe turned up the heat. Although he had been floored before, Mitchell, the 29-year-old "Slammer from Alabama'' had never failed to last the distance in 28 fights and Calzaghe's feat would have impressed the TV audience in America.

The Newbridge southpaw claimed it was the greatest of his 36 victories. "Months of frustration came out in there. There was a lot of anger in that ring,'' he said.

This contest, twice postponed, may mark the watershed of Calzaghe's career, for he now has to decide whether to try for a defining fight against the top-notch American Bernard Hopkins or the International Boxing Federation champion Sven Ottke of Germany, who has controversially defeated Mitchell.

Although Calzaghe has been Britain's most consistently successful champion, never have we seen such fire in his fists. From the outset he was determined there would be no pussyfoot punching and Williams, no slouch himself, responded in kind, but seemed dazzled by the Calzaghe combinations.

So pleased was he with his son's first-round performance that dad Enzo kissed Calzaghe as he sat down at the end of it. However, about a minute into the second it seemed as if he had been somewhat hasty, for in the high-speed exchanges Calzaghe was caught by a right, half hook, half uppercut, which spun him to the floor for an eight count.

You could see the hurt - mental rather than physical - in his eyes as he rose, and he immediately tore after Mitchell in a slam-bam attack which first knocked down Mitchell and then drove him across the ring into the ropes. As he staggered against them referee Parris intervened.

Williams did not seem to protest, although he said afterwards: "I don't think it should have been stopped, but I suppose the ref was looking after my best interests. I made a mistake in going in for the kill because I did not think I would get a points decision. Unfortunately I got a bit careless, but there is no doubt Calzaghe has great heart.''

The crowd concurred. They stamped and cheered what was probably their favourite fighting son's most significant success since he won the title from Chris Eubank almost six years ago. He had been out of the ring for over six months and there was a lot of pent-up frustration to be unleashed on Mitchell.

Asked about the knockdown, Calzaghe at first jokingly suggested that he considered it a slip, but then admitted: "It was a shock. It was the first time I have been on the floor in my entire life. But there nearly always comes a time when the champion gets hurt and then you see a champion's heart to come back and win by a knockout.

"You saw a lot of heart tonight. There was no way that guy was going to bet me. They'd have had to take me out on a stretcher. But next time I'll be more composed.''

Who he will face next time is a problematical question. Calzaghe has been one of the most proficient, efficient and unsung of British world champions in a professional career which began after he became a triple ABA champion.

But he has yet to appear in the States, and seems to have run out of opponents in his weight category, although promoter Frank Warren still believes he can entice either Hopkins or Ottke. Calzaghe himself doesn't seem so sure, and certainly believes Ottke will not want to know. "If he didn't want to fight me before then he definitely won't want to fight me now.''

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss