US audience must be impressed by Calzaghe's ferocity

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The Independent Online

There are rare moments in the prize-fighting ring when one of the boxers can suddenly perform with such staggering simplicity, moves that most fighters can only picture in their minds during the moments before sleep.

There are rare moments in the prize-fighting ring when one of the boxers can suddenly perform with such staggering simplicity, moves that most fighters can only picture in their minds during the moments before sleep.

On Saturday night Joe Calzaghe, from Newbridge in South Wales, went effortlessly where thousands of boxers would love to tread during five of the most precise and intensive rounds seen in a British ring for many years.

Calzaghe retained his World Boxing Organisation super-middle weight title when the referee, Genaro Hernandez, saved New Jersey's Omar Sheika from real harm and stepped in after 2min 08sec of round five. Calzaghe was connecting with every punch and Sheika was in turmoil, flailing on stilted legs with his eyes shining bright from the beating.

The fight was expected to be a test for Calzaghe, but he managed to take gentle control in the opening round and from there until the final punch he weaved his shots through Sheika's guard with chillingefficiency and poise.

Now Calzaghe has to make a mandatory defence against a German called Mario Veit, who received a fee to step aside from Calzaghe's promoter, Frank Warren.

Veit has some other options and would be well advised to take a cut in pay and fight fellow German Sven Ottke for the International Boxing Federation title at the same weight.

Warren agreed to pay Veit to secure the services of Sheika because Saturday night was Calzaghe's last chance to impress the American boxing markets and Warren wanted a fighter who would lead with his heart and his head. The fight was screened in the US and would have been greeted with wild enthusiasm because of Sheika's reputation as a puncher. It was a fight that willdefinitely alter Calzaghe's life.

One option for Calzaghe, which, sadly, is unlikely to ever develop past the exchange of words, is a fight with the world's most dominant and damaging boxer, Roy Jones. However, Jones also has an offer to gain 30 pounds and challenge Evander Holyfield for the World Boxing Association heavyweight championship.

At the bitter end of the fight Sheika looked over at Calzaghe in amazement. He admitted that he had never been beaten like that and it was clear he never expected the ferocity of Calzaghe's performance. He also claimed, like all fighters, that the cuts forced the stoppage.

He is wrong. The referee acknowledged he stepped in to halt the punishment and not to stop the blood. Sheika was just a punch or two from oblivion and one day he will realise because it is brave fighters like Sheika who get seriously injured against hurtful fighters like Calzaghe. Calzaghe was in the right frame of mind to hurt and keep hurting and that is what really separates boxers.

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