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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Hatchet job delights Calzaghe
Joe Calzaghe vs Charles Brewer
Calzaghe and Brewer produced a thrilling contest
Joe Calzaghe erased any lingering doubts over his status as the best super-middleweight in the world in Cardiff on Saturday night.

The Welshman successfully defended his World Boxing Organisation title for the 10th time against American former International Boxing Federation champion Charles Brewer, winning a lopsided points decision after 12 gruelling rounds.

Now Calzaghe must look to the other divisions to justify his claims of greatness with his fellow 12-stone champions doubtless becoming even more elusive after witnessing his exciting win.

The fighter from Newbridge in south Wales and his promoter Frank Warren will turn their attention elsewhere, with undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins on top of their wanted list.

Hopkins will see this fight and he'll be interested
Joe Calzaghe

"Bernard Hopkins at the Millennium Stadium looks like it could happen," said Calzaghe. "I've hoped for a lot of decent fights and they haven't happened, but maybe this one will go down well in America and my fight stock will rise."

Calzaghe, fighting in front of the American television cameras once again, certainly impressed more than he had the last time he was stretched to points, in a stinker against David Starie in January 2000.

He started and finished at a ferocious pace, hurting Brewer, nicknamed 'The Hatchet' , with a left-hook in the second round and again in the fourth, and struggled with an injured left hand from the eighth round onwards.

Calzaghe was himself tested by Brewer in the middle rounds, putting a few Welsh hearts into mouths in round seven, when a left-handed assault tested his chin like never before.

Calzaghe accepted that he had allowed impatience to get the better of him as he sought the sensational early knockout.

But that was to pick holes in his performance against an accomplished former champion who performed well above levels of expectation.

The 117-112, 118-111, 119-109 scores of the three ringside judges did little justice to the weight of the 33-year-old Philadelphian's contribution.

"It was a really tough fight and I proved that I am not just one of the champions out there, I am the best champion out there," Calzaghe added. "To be the best you've got to fight and beat the best, and that's what I did.

"I'm not going to be intimidated. Nobody intimidates me. At the end of the day I'm the champion and if you come at me it's going to be a slugfest."

Brewer's promoter Russell Peltz said after the fight that he now believed Calzaghe's claims to be the best in the business in his division.

The American public too should warm to Calzaghe after this brave and relentless performance.

All of which should help Warren in his quest to bring Hopkins, who recently beat Felix Trinidad to unify the titles at the lower weight, to Wales.

Joe Calzaghe celebrates his 10th successful WBO super-middleweight title defence
Calzaghe was watched on both sides of the Atlantic

Warren clearly now believes Roy Jones Jr is out of the question but WBO light-heavyweight champion Dariusz Michalczewski, who recently stated his interest in meeting Hopkins, remains a possibility.

There are few big names left at light-heavyweight with Germany's Sven Ottke, who controversially took Brewer's title from him on points in 2000, plainly uninterested in a unification match.

Calzaghe added: "I told everybody that Brewer is still one of the best in the world. He should still be world champion but he got robbed by Ottke. This should have been a big-money unification fight."

When referee Mark Nelson raised Calzaghe's hand upon the verdict's announcement, relief was tangible amongst the raucous 5,000 crowd in the Cardiff International Arena.

That relief was not so much aimed at the points decision but at the fact that their man had come through his biggest test to date, and proved himself worthy of the superfights that have to come.

"The crowd were great and they really encouraged me as usual. Now I think Hopkins can be made.

"He'll see this fight and he'll be interested. Just imagine what the atmosphere in front of 40,000 people in the Millennium Stadium would be like."

See also:

20 Apr 02 |  Boxing
Classy Calzaghe retains title
21 Apr 02 |  Photo Galleries
Calzaghe retains title
23 Apr 01 |  Wales
The Calzaghe Record
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