WELSH boxing icon Joe Calzaghe has expressed his honour at being announced as a first ballot Boxing Hall of Fame entrant.
The 41-year old retired in 2008 and having been out of the ring for half a decade, now qualifies for the prestigious Hall of Fame (you must be inactive for at least five years).
And having retired with an undefeated 46-0 record and as a two-weight world champion, it’s perhaps little surprise that the Newbridge ace is a first ballot entrant.
Calzaghe goes into the Hall of Fame in the same year as Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya and admits he’s thrilled to have been selected.
“I’ve never been to the Hall of Fame ceremony (set for New York in 2014) but it’s amazing that they’ve given me the call.
“To be a first ballot Hall of Famer with the likes of Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya is amazing. It’s great for my family and (particularly) my Dad, I wouldn’t be here without him. As regards to boxing – since I was nine-years-old he was always there for me and supported me so it’s for him as much as for me.”
Calzaghe is pleased to enter with a star-studded line-up.
“It is a fantastic year to go in,” he told Boxingnewsoline.net.
“To have (my) name mentioned alongside those guys (Trinidad and De La Hoya), what can I say? It’s every fighter’s dream and it’s humbling for me.
“It’s nice to be respected and given this (accolade) five years after I retired. It’s every fighter’s dream; to get into the Hall of Fame and it’s brilliant to be respected in the States.
“It re-affirms what I did at the end of my career; to go to the States. People didn’t want me to go at the end but I wanted to fight Hopkins, I wanted to go to Madison Square Garden. I think, to be appreciated by the American writers and fans, you need to go out there not just to fight, but to win (and) beat one of their top guys.”
Calzaghe admits he still gets tired by people questioning his credentials, particularly in regard to the Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones fights in 2008.
“Roy Jones wasn’t ‘the best’ Roy Jones at that time but he was still a dangerous, dangerous opponent when I fought him,” he said.
“A few fights beforehand he had been knocked out but nobody had ever done what I did to Roy Jones. (I was) able to outbox him (when) at the time he was still a big name and also still a decent fighter, he wasn’t at his peak but he was still a good fighter.”
Calzaghe admits he could’ve fought for longer.
“There was no Super 6 back in those days. The guys that came over were dangerous and because I made some of them look easy, instead of giving me credit a lot of the time people would disrespect the fact I beat a guy in two rounds because he’s poor. Why? Why couldn’t I have been that good, that I could beat the guy that easy?
“There’s always hindsight and of course I could have gone on for a couple of fights, everyone was saying go to 50 (Calzaghe retired undefeated with 46 wins) but I knew before the Roy Jones fight, I was cutting corners, my time was up. I was injured all the time, my kids wanted me to retire, I’d had enough and I achieved everything I wanted to achieve. I beat the best in the world. At the time (we fought), me Kessler were number one and number two, that was Kessler at his best – at 39-0 when he was the ‘peak’ Kessler. After that (I fought) Hopkins, it was a close fight, a messy fight, I won the fight, but at the end of the day the guy is a world champion today. It’s harder to fight a guy like Hopkins in the States. I’m proud of everything I achieved.”