No Ordinary Joe: The Autobiography of the Greatest British Boxer of Our Time
Joe Calzaghe, Brian Doogan
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IT WAS past three o'clock in the morning when Joe Calzaghe experienced the sweetest validation of his professional life. Victory over Jeff Lacy, a 28-year-old American compared to a young Mike Tyson because of his power and "take-no-prisoners attitude", left no one in doubt about the world super middleweight champion's talent.
For years, Calzaghe's virtuosity remained a legend of the Welsh valleys. His defeat in 1997 of Chris Eubank brought him to prominence, winning for him the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) super middleweight title. But despite a record number of defences of the belt, his career lacked a defining contest. A long line of challengers and ex-titleholders were disposed of but the biggest names in American boxing avoided the ultimate showdown he craved. Hand injuries further obscured the true level of his aptitude for an art he began to learn from his father, Enzo, at the age of eight when - inspired by Sugar Ray Leonard - a rolled-up carpet in the family home in Newbridge became a makeshift heavy bag.
This is the story of Calzaghe's extraordinary life, from his humble beginnings in his hometown of Newbridge, to his ascent to personal greatness, becoming the first super middleweight boxer to win the prized belt awarded by The Ring, the bible of boxing, in the division's near 20-year history.
One of Britain's foremost sporting champions, a warrior and working-class hero, this is the story of the triumphs and trials that made Calzaghe a legend.
winning the gold medal. The Welsh ABA, who weren’t in the habit of sending boxers to a lot of places because of the money it cost, didn’t send me then to the world junior championships even though another boxer, Alan Vaughan, lost his first fight in the Europeans and went to Lima. Why wasn’t I given a second chance? I can remember all of my losses as an amateur but I vowed after the bout with Opreda that I would never lose again. I was seventeen years old and in the subsequent seventeen years
the police. After a year I thought that maybe I ought to go for my test, so I booked myself on a crash course and passed first time. I went and bought another car, a Ford Escort XR3i convertible and the second day I had it I got stopped. So it’s not the way you drive, it’s the car you drive, and so it is in boxing. Over time I began to realise what was going on and I started to ask questions. The turning point came when Robin Reid, who turned pro after me, beat Vincenzo Nardiello of Italy to win
hand. I could get battered. That’s when my dad’s psychology came into play. He’s been my trainer since the day I first put on a pair of boxing gloves. He’s also a great judge of fights and fighters. He’s my best pal, a total pain in the arse sometimes but I love him to bits. He knew exactly what was going on in my head and he laid everything on the line. ‘It was one of those fights – even if Joe had lost, just the fact that he went in the ring would have been an achievement. Not getting in there
who held versions of the title, so there can be no doubt that in the last decade I’ve proved myself to be the best fighter in my division. From the tapes I’d seen of Brewer, I reckoned that he was chinny, for he’d been stopped three times in forty-five fights. As a middleweight, he got knocked out twice back to back, but he’d got his career going again and I could see his confidence when I went over to New York for a press conference with the American media. Fighters know, we can see it in each
performance? Does it weaken me? I think it does, I’d be a better fighter at light heavyweight because of the strength I would gain from not having to torture myself to make twelve stone. If it was the same today as it was a decade ago when weigh-ins were held on the morning of the fight, there is just no way that I’d still be fighting at super middle, I just wouldn’t have time to hydrate my body again properly. But thirty-six hours between the weigh-in and the fight gives me the necessary time to