GWENT’S greatest ever sportsman Joe Calzaghe is celebrating after receiving a double honour to add to his list of glittering achievements.
The two-weight world champion, who retired undefeated at 46-0 and dominated the super middleweight division for 11-years, will next month be inducted in the Boxing Hall of Fame in New York City.
And the accolades don’t stop there with Calzaghe honoured by the British Boxing writers’ at their annual lunch, appropriately held in a favourite restaurant of Calzaghe’s in London’s Little Italy.
Calzaghe is set to be ringside at next weekend’s hotly-anticipated rematch between George Groves and Carl Froch and admitted at the lunch to some mixed feelings regarding the two controversial fighters.
Calzaghe was annoyed for several years by Froch “trying to make a name for himself off my back,” and accused the Nottingham puncher of hypocrisy in his withering put-downs of Groves.
However, Calzaghe’s thoughts in the immediacy are on his huge honour in New York at the start of June, when he will be inducted alongside Oscar de la Hoya and Felix Trinidad, as a first ballot entrant.
“It’s a great feeling to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, five years after my retirement and it shows you remain in people’s mind,” he said.
“It’s very humbling, a big massive honour and to be a first ballot hall of famer, in their 25th anniversary year with guys like Felix Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya, it feels like an amazing honour.
“It’s nice to know I am remembered not just in the UK for my record and for my achievements, but in the US as well.
“It’s great to think back on it and I think it vindicates my decision to go to America to fight at the end of my career.
“I fought in Vegas and Madison Square Garden and it obviously was memorable and going into the Hall of Fame is going to be a very special occasion for myself and for my family.”
Calzaghe admits to mixed feelings ahead of Froch v Groves II.
“I can’t help but feel a bit of envy for Carl and George, it’s the kind of rivalry I’d have loved to have had in my career, but at 42-years of age I’m a bit too old,” he said.
“The fight has captured the imagination of the public; you only have to look at the tickets they’ve sold for Wembley Stadium.
“Maybe if I'd been even a couple of years younger than I am now, at 42, I would have considered beating either of them. But not now. I wouldn't risk my legacy.
“If I were to risk my place in history by coming back too late and sacrificing my unbeaten record then, never mind the money, I'd be miserable for the rest of my life.”
Calzaghe believes Groves can beat Froch this time around, but wouldn’t put his money where his mouth is.
“One can make a case for both Carl and George. Has Froch become too old? Has Groves improved enough?” he said.
“Froch is beginning to look like he's slowing up but then he will take Groves more seriously this time. Groves is faster but does he have the steam for a long fight?
“In the end I look at it and think that George, with his backing-off style, would've been more of a problem for me if I ever thought of coming back to meet one of them. So if push comes to shove I'd go for him.
“Although in my own mind I believe that in my prime I would've beaten either of them, James DeGale, who I think can give them both a lot of trouble, and Andre Ward, who is similar to Bernard Hopkins, but who I got the better of.”