Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:18 pm
Calzaghe seeks genuine recognition by beating Kessler in unification fight
By ROBERT MILLWARD, AP Sports Writer
November 2, 2007
LONDON (AP) -- Joe Calzaghe has spent a decade chasing recognition as one of boxing's great world champions.
If he adds Mikkel Kessler's WBC and WBA super-middleweight titles to his WBO belt on Saturday, Calzaghe may finally get the global respect he craves.
Unbeaten in 43 fights, including 20 straight WBO victories since taking the title from Chris Eubank in 1997, Calzaghe has been frustrated that he never got the big fight he wanted against Roy Jones Jr. or Bernard Hopkins.
He takes on Kessler, unbeaten in 39 contests, in a fight being screened live in the United States on HBO and before a crowd of 50,000 fans at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
The 35-year-old Welshman, who has never fought in the U.S., has given himself one more year before retirement and hopes to include a fight at New York's Madison Square Garden, possibly moving up to light-heavyweight.
He knows he will only get that if he beats Kessler on Saturday.
"That's why I took this fight," the left-hander said. "I'm still hungry. I want another belt and then possibly a light-heavyweight title as well. I always said I'd be a lot better at light-heavy and I want to prove it before I get too old."
Both Jones and Hopkins fight at light-heavyweight, and Calzaghe has been trying to line up fights with them while beating lesser known fighters. Jones revealed an interest in meeting Calzaghe after the Welshman's impressive decision over IBF champion Jeff Lacy in March last year, but nothing came of the negotiations.
Calzaghe gave up the IBF title, which is currently owned by Colombia's Alejandro Berrio, but now wants to capture two more of the recognized crowns.
"This is only my second unification fight," Calzaghe said. "It's great fighting someone else who has other belts because I've got so much to gain from winning this fight. I want to retire undefeated and I know this is going to be my toughest challenge yet."
Kessler, who is seven years younger than Calzaghe, has a standout jab and strong right hand. But he has only fought once outside of Denmark and never in an American ring.
"I know the crowd will be against me and I would have loved to have the fight in Denmark," Kessler said. "But I'm not afraid to fight outside my home country and I have done it before.
"It's always a goal to get outside your own country and get people from all around the world to know you and know your fights, and this fight is going to be shown in many countries."
Having won the WBA title by stopping Manual Siaca in eight rounds in June 2005, Kessler flew to Australia to score a points victory over local favorite Anthony Mundine in Sydney. He then added the WBC title by knocking out Germany's Marcus Beyer in three rounds before gaining a points decision over Mexico's Librado Andrade in Copenhagen in his most recent defense.
Both fighters will try to dominate from the center of the ring, Kessler with his jab and Calzaghe trying to launch his powerful left and fast combinations.
But Calzaghe's suspect left hand has caused him major problems in the past.
He broke it in the fourth round against Evans Ashira two years ago and had to fight virtually one-handed to score a points decision. He had to call off a later defense when he reinjured it in training.
Heading into Saturday's fight, Calzaghe has reported no problems.
"Both my hands have been really strong and, with two good hands, I can knock anybody out," he said.
"I'll be hitting him so fast, he will feel surrounded."
It's your father and I have been drinking!!