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Monday, June 7, 1999 Published at 00:21 GMT 01:21 UK


Calzaghe lacklustre in victory

Calzaghe said he hurt his vulnerable left hand in the third round

Joe Calzaghe retained his WBO super-middleweight title but it was not the performance which would have impressed the watching American fight promoters.

Joe Calzaghe tells the BBC's Mike Costello: "My hand went again but I showed what a good champion I am"
The confident Welshman had predicted Australian challenger Rick Thornberry would be stopped in the first three rounds in Cardiff.

But the 27-year-old from Newbridge, Gwent, was forced to go the championship distance for the third time in five fights.

He held on to the title by landslide margins of 120-107, 119-109 and 119-108.

But ambitious moves for Calzaghe to make his US debut in Atlantic City on 7 August may now have to be put on hold.

Promoter Frank Warren promised only to "wait and see" what would happen after the fighter's lacklustre showing.

Injured hand

Calzaghe said he suffered a recurrence of a hand injury in the third round but he did not seek to make excuses.

Thornberry, 31, offered plenty of resilience, but posed no danger to the champion.

Calzaghe simply could not land enough of the big punches which marked him out as such a knockout sensation earlier in his career.

[ image: Thornberry was sent to the canvas in the second round]
Thornberry was sent to the canvas in the second round
At one stage it did seem that Thornberry, the official number one WBO contender, might not get past the early rounds.

Thornberry, who was stopped in five rounds by Yorkshire's Henry Wharton on his last visit to the UK, was on the canvas in the second but only briefly and a cut on his right eyebrow never seriously worsened.

Hung on

The Aussie also took two solid body shots and a thump on the back of the head, but jumped straight up.

After that, Thornberry simply stuck in there, and despite Calzaghe's major efforts to finish him off in the eighth and ninth, the Australian was able to remain upright.

On the undercard former featherweight champion Barry Jones made a successful comeback - winning a six round bout - after a lengthy lay off caused by a brain scan scare.

Arguably the best performance of the night came from Newport's Paul Samuels. He stopped the experienced American Eric Holland on cuts in the ninth round and looks destined for better things.

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