2014 Hall of fame-er Joe Calzaghe needs no introduction to anyone in the know about boxing.
In the UK with the creation of the super-middleweight division in 1984 also coincided with our most successful spout of world champions in any given division.
Murray Sutherland of Edinborough won the first version of the title (IBF) by defeating Ernie Singletary.
In the decade to follow, in what was called ‘The Golden era of British Boxing’ some great rivalries were born with the likes of Chris Eubanks Sr, Nigel Benn and Michael Watson fought each other for a version of the title and at the end of the era Steve Collins also joined the mix. Unfortunately Steve Collins retired rather than face the up and coming star from Newbridge, Wales Joe Calzaghe.
Joe was actually born in London, but his heritage comes from having a Sardinian father and Welsh mother. He was raised in Wales from the age of 2 yrs old.
Joe started boxing at the age of 9 and won several ABA title as both a junior and senior and also represented Wales at the European Junior Championships.
As a professional Joe racked up 22 wins in row picking up the British title along the way and 21 stoppages. Joe who had not long before signed with Frank Warren Promotions was now looking to take over the world.
Being from the same islands WBO Champ Steve Collins was the obvious target and a fight was agreed temporarily before Collins was stripped of the title due to injury and the retired before a bout could be finalised.
A face from the past in fan favorite Chris Eubanks Sr stepped up to the plate in a fight that shocked the world as underdog Joe put Eubanks down for the first time in his career in the opening minute and went on to out-point the veteran 2 time champ widely on all 3 scorecards.
The 5 ft 11 southpaw defended his title 17 times with 17 wins including a win over his close friend Richie Woodhall and set up a unification bout with the man dubbed ‘The New Mike Tyson’ Jeff Lacy. Jeff at the time was 21-0 with 14 stoppages.
Almost pulling out due to injury Joe went in with Lacy a huge underdog and battled him almost one-handed for 12 rounds. Without being disrespectful to Lacy, Joe gave a boxing lesson to the world that night as his fast combinations landed with ease and he hardly took a punch all night. To add insult to injury Calzaghe had a blistering 12th round to seal off the fight and put the traveling favorite down. He won a unanimous decision and picked up Lacy’s IBF title to add to his own.
After 2 routine title defenses Joe came up against the Viking Warrior Mikkel Kessler in another unification fight which he again won by unanimous decision and added the WBC and WBA titles to his collection.
Joe had achieved all he had dreamed in the sport at super-middleweight so rather than defend again he decided to go up in weight to light-heavyweight and take on big names in America. He won 2 Points decisions against the World renowned Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins but was put down in the first round in both of those fights.
Joe did something many fighters dream of but cannot achieve and hung up his gloves in February 2009 undefeated. He was 46-0 with 31 stoppages.
Joe has since ignored taunts from the likes of Carl Froch into stepping back into the ring and lives a very happy life with his family.
Since retiring from professional boxing, Joe started a promotional company with his father and former trainer Enzo Calzaghe and often appears on television as a boxing pundit and has also appeared on Stricly Come Dancing and the sitcom Stella.
On June the 8th 2014 Joe put the icing on the cake for his incredible career achievements where he also picked up th BBC sports personality of the year by being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of fame alongside Oscar De-La-Hoya and Felix Trinidad.