By Brian doogan
It’s been an interesting road for former super middleweight and current light heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe. In the last 5 years he has gone from being called the most protected champion in the world to then being recognized as one of the best, if not the best, fighter in the world. After more than 10 years as king of the 168 division he has beaten an assortment of young undefeated foes, proven legends and tough challengers on his way to being proclaimed as the best fighter ever to hail from the U.K. After his last victory, a battering of former pound for pound king Roy Jones Jr, he has contemplated retirement, seeing as how his list of challengers is a mix of young unproven fighters and old foes. The Ring’s European correspondent Brian Doogan sat down with Joe Calzaghe in his farm in Wales. Doogan reports: Joe Calzaghe seems to be enjoying this period of inactivity to ponder about his family’s future as well as his own as a fighter. His recent comments that the boxing scene in the U.S is dying gave the impression that he has become disinterested in boxing but when the topic of old and new foes is brought up, his eyes show a flash of light only seen in a men who knows he’s not yet finished his work. Calzaghe and his father and trainer Enzo have always done things their way, despite criticism from insiders and fans and you get the sense that whatever he decides he knows it will all be all right.
The Ring- How is life after boxing treating you?
J.C- (Laughs) I’ve been hearing that question a lot lately, it makes me feel old.
The Ring- You are 36 years old, that’s old in boxing but based on your last fight with Roy Jones Jr. you looked like you were 26.
J.C- Everything was great for that fight, my preparation was great, I felt good, everything. I feel like I could go on until I’m 45.
The Ring- You and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are in similar positions, aren’t you?
J.C- Yeah you could say that.
The Ring- You’re both undefeated, contemplating retirement while holding major championships. The differences are he relinquished his title and you are in your late 30’s while he is in his early ones.
J.C- I feel like if I retired today I would be satisfied with everything I’ve done. I don’t know if Mayweather feels that same way.
The Ring- Why do you think that?
J.C- Well, he is still young and there is still more he could accomplish whereas I have been champion for 10 years and have beaten the best fighters in my divisions.
The Ring- It is rare to see a champion retire undefeated, yet today we have 2 potential fighters who will do that in you and Mayweather. I don’t think that’s ever been done before.
J.C – Well there’s never been another Joe Calzaghe and Floyd Mayweather before (laughs). You know? We are two fighters cut from the same wool skin. Supremely talented and smart. Well, smart in the ring (laughs).
The Ring- You don’t think Mayweather is smart?
J.C- I don’t want to badmouth the guy but he said some things during the Hatton fight that just showed he’s not the brightest guy in the world.
The Ring- Do you think you are smart outside the ring?
J.C - More or less. Did you see the gal I married?
The Ring- You mentioned being asked about retirement. How common is it becoming?
J.C- It’s pretty common but it depends on where I am you know? When I go to events and stuff people come up to me and ask me “Hey Joe when are you going to fight again?” you know? It’s understandable, I always put on a good show for them.
The Ring- How do you think they would feel if you retired?
J.C- I think they would be fine with it. The Americans though, that’s another story. They always say I’m overrated and all that, yet they are the ones who can’t stop talking about me. I get more calls from the American press asking me about my retirement than the press from over here does. Funny uh?
The Ring- You recently commented that there are no more good young boxers in the American scene and that boxing over there is on its last legs. Care to elaborate?
J.C- It’s like I said before. Boxing over there is weak because there are very few fans and they don’t produce more because there are no young talented Americans coming out of the Amateur system. Look at their record in the Olympics. It was abysmal. That is why they want fighters like me from overseas to keep fighting, they have no one to watch anymore.
The Ring- You mention that they want you back, yet your fights with Kessler, Hopkins and Jones had disappointing ratings and buys.
J.C- That’s because they don’t have any fans over there.
The Ring- So who wants you back?
J.C- The little fans they have.
The Ring- Pacquiao-De la Hoya made more than a million buys.
J.C- But those guys aren’t American.
The Ring- De la Hoya is.
J.C- I think he’s half Mexican. His parents probably jumped the border or something so he doesn’t count.
The Ring- I guess the question then becomes, will you fight again?
J.C- You know, I’ve done everything in my career that I could ever have wanted to achieve. At the same time I still feel good physically, I could go on for years. I might take a year off to think about it and then come back from the grave. Like Jesus you know. My father told me the other day that Jesus and I have a lot in common. We are both nice people, tremendously talented, we have our critics, our initials are J.C and we hang around scum all day.
The Ring- Your father said that?
J.C- His drunk side did (laughs).
The Ring- So who out there could motivate you to fight again?
J.C- No one at the moment.
The Ring- Not even Bernard Hopkins after his demolition of Kelly Pavlik?
J.C- Pavlik isn’t anything special. He might be someday but he isn’t now. I knew that and so did my drunk of a father, which is why we took on a proven legend like Roy Jones instead of a no skilled
puncher. What Hopkins did to Powder Pavlik I would have done 10X worse.
The Ring- So a fight with Hopkins does not interest you?
J.C- No . Been there done that.
The Ring- Then why consider giving Jones a rematch.
J.C- Because his knockdown was more convincing than the one Hopkins had against me.
The Ring- But the Hopkins fight was close.
J.C- It was close only because I allowed it to be. Plus I wasn’t in the best condition I could be in.
The Ring- Leading up to the fight you said you were feeling great and that you were going to knock Hopkins out.
J.C- And last night I told my father that he didn’t look like a stuffed catcher’s mitt. It’s called lying.
The Ring- Speaking of your relationship with your father, how is it that he trained you to be a world champion, having no experience as a boxer himself?
J.C- Well we just studied a lot of film, read a lot and put in a strong work ethic. Still it wasn’t enough but we got through.
The Ring- What do you mean by it wasn’t enough?
J.C- Well have you seen the way I hit? It looks like I’m swatting flies. Although normally I don’t swat flies myself. To do that I take the same approach as my boxing career, I let someone else hit the fly and ruin it and then I crush it or I wait until it’s too old and then I fight it. Or I’ll fight weak flies for a long time before fighting a strong one.
The Ring- How did the slapping come about?
J.C- Well I used to follow my father a lot into bars where he played gigs and he would get drunk and into fights with people who called him ugly. That’s how I learned to punch, from my dad’s drunken
The Ring- Speaking of your past times, your family said that you used to be bullied. Is that correct?
J.C- Yeah well, you know, me being a boxer and all a lot of people wanted to test me so it was inevitable. It happens to everyone you know?
The Ring- What would they do?
J.C- Ah you know, call me names, Joe CRAPzaghe, push me around, tea bag me, stuff like that.
The Ring- That sounds pretty serious. You were boxing back then why didn’t you stop them?
J.C- (Laughs) It just felt right you know?
The Ring- That’s pretty serious stuff for kids to be doing.
J.C- Kids? No no, that happened last week, it was my father and uncle who did that to me. They get pretty wild when drunk.
The Ring- Why didn’t you stop them?
J.C- Like I said, it felt right.
The Ring- Let’s say that this is indeed the end of the Joe Calzaghe’s boxing career. Rank your best wins and performances for us.
J.C- Well number one would have to be Roy Jones Jr, superman himself, no doubt about that. The man is a legend and I beat him for 12 rounds easier than anyone has ever done. Second would have to be Jeff Lacy because he had the biggest muscles than anyone I’ve ever faced which also gave me a funny feeling in my pants. Third would have to be Peter Mafredo.
The Ring- Why Manfredo?
J.C- Because that fight has to be the first one in the history of boxing that has ever been stopped due to slapping .
The Ring- So if you don’t retire what’s next for you?
J.C- We’ll see. Maybe I’ll fight Chad Dawson but I’ll wait until someone beats him or KO’s him to make sure I’m fighting damaged goods or maybe I’ll wait 7-8 months for Bernard Hopkins to get older and then beat him more convincingly and then I’ll say that happened because I was in better shape. Or maybe I’ll fight Roy Jones again. I’m sure people want to see that based on the anticipation that maybe he knocks me down again and this time I don’t get up.
The Ring- Thank you for talking to us Joe.
J.C- No problem. Now if you excuse me I have to go hit the slappingbag.