Boxing: Injured Calzaghe may miss rest of year

Joe Calzaghe will see a specialist today about the damaged knuckle on the index finger of his left hand, knowing, if it is broken, he will be out of action until after Christmas.

On Saturday night, in front of 6,000 fans in the spectacular surroundings of Cardiff Castle, Calzaghe so thoroughly beat Puerto Rico's Miguel Jimenez that, had the fight taken place away from the ring, he would have been nicked for serious assault. Jimenez fought a dreadfully negative fight and was lucky not to be booed from the ring.

Calzaghe was making the 11th defence of his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title and it was, he admits, not one of his finest fights. It is possible, had he not injured his hand, that he would have stopped Jimenez be-cause, in round two and three, the challenger looked dejected and seldom connected with a punch of his own.

Now Calzaghe must wait to see just how serious the injury, sustained in round three, is, because he has the chance to meet Germany's unbeaten International Boxing Federation super-middleweight champion Sven Ottke in a unification fight that would attract a massive crowd in Cardiff or Berlin.

The news that promoter Frank Warren had held talks with Wilfred Sauerland, who has promoted Ottke's incredible rise to popularity in Germany, came as a shock.

During the last six months, Warren has been involved in some furious, and often infuriating, discussions with Don King and his champion, Bernard Hopkins.

"It has not been an easy few months and I'm increasingly annoyed at suggestions that I'm holding Joe back or, for some reason, don't want to see him in a major fight. That is rubbish,'' Warren said yesterday.

If the fight with Ottke can be made, there is the very real possibility that Calzaghe will have to travel to Germany, where crowds in excess of 20,000 have been known to turn out to support Ottke. But Calzaghe has stated that for a truly big and significant fight he will travel overseas. He was prepared to fight Hopkins in New York and will be equally happy to meet Ottke in Berlin.

Sauerland and Ottke may have appeared anonymously at ringside on Saturday night because, in all fairness, they would have gone unrecognised. There were so many influential people from international boxing in Cardiff that rumours of a summit of some description appeared to be credible.

There was Shelly Finkel, Mike Tyson's de facto manager, Adrian Ogun, who performs the same task for Lennox Lewis, and the ultra-powerful lawyer of New Jersey Judd Burnstein, who recently won two victories against Panos Eliades, who was, for nearly a decade, Lewis's promoter. Eliades has since retired from boxing and owes Lewis several million dollars.

On Saturday night, during either round 10 or 11, a streaker appeared in the Castle's grounds and Warren, turning to Burnstein, said: "That looks like Panos.''

Burnstein immediately replied: "I told you I would leave him with nothing.''

It was certainly the wittiest moment of a night that had few thrills.

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