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Sunday, 18 August, 2002, 04:33 GMT 05:33 UK
Calzaghe fails to convince
Joe Calzaghe could only manage a comfortable points victory
Calzaghe (right) could not find a knockout punch

Joe Calzaghe's 11th defence of his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight crown failed to turn into the cakewalk imagined by all his fans.

Miguel Jimenez turned out to be one of those stubborn doughnuts you struggle to get all the jam out of.

The more effort Calzaghe put in, the messier it got.

In the end, a well-oiled crowd, from beer and sun-tan lotion, were relieved their hero had edged past Nigel Benn in the world title defence standings.

But, if the fight was ordinary, the surroundings certainly weren't.

As the first Welsh world champion to box at Cardiff Castle, Calzaghe enjoyed his proud moment almost as much as the public.

Even seasoned fight writers turned their hard noses to the spectacular keep on the horizon and declared it the most impressive venue they had ever been to.

Joe Calzaghe and Miguel Jimenez
Calzaghe lands another blow on his dogged opponent

They may have been soft-soaping us, but 'forget those casinos, give us a castle any time' seemed to be their mantra.

Perhaps they were swayed with the tales of when Robert of Normandy was held captive there by his brother Henry I, or when Welsh outlaw Ifor Bach of Senghenydd kidnapped Earl William of Gloucester as he slept in his castle bedroom.

Whatever, they were impressed, and Calzaghe was king of this particular fortress.

Not everyone had turned up to support him though.

There were fans of Northern Ireland's Neil Sinclair, a vociferous group of Birmingham City backers declaring their undying love for Wayne Elcock, and loud cheers for the Welsh youngsters Bradley Pryce and Gavin Rees.

Of the three world title scraps on show, the Argentina-Dominican Republic battle between Fabio Oliva and Joan Guzman was hardly an appealling appetiser, but winner Guzman's ring craft won over a large crowd as the warm day began to chill.

Awkward rival

When Stereophonics played Cardiff Castle in 1998, their arrival was timed to the sunset, but television schedules and an untimely cloud cover denied Calzaghe his moment of drama in the dusk.

Not that it stopped the Newbridge man from milking his entrance though, appearing at the steps of the keep before taking a protracted route to the ring and getting his adrenaline going.

It was enough to get the 6,000 fans on to their feet too.

Strains of 'Bread of Heaven', and hoots of derision for an over-sized TV cameraman, soon echoed the venue.

Such was the clamour to support Joe that the organisers issued a warning about crowds being squeezed out at the south end of the ring.

But the only one in danger seemed to be Jimenez.

The encounter became so one-way that you expected a traffic cop to step in and start to referee it.

The Puerto Rican, a third-choice opponent, came purely to survive, though his use of the head - not in the cerebral sense - did see him docked a point in the 10th.

Calzaghe, despite winning every round, failed to find the finish and, for the second fight running, had to rely on the judges to keep his prized belt.

It was hardly a display to inspire any American viewers of the bout, but the Welshman admitted only seeing Bernard Hopkins or Roy Jones Jnr in the other corner will get his juices flowing.

He apologised to his fans for not knocking out an 'awkward' rival, but revealed he had suffered a hand injury in the third round.

It was that kind of night, really, though it wasn't over for the two notables.

After a string of interviews (Calzaghe) and a quick shower (Jimenez), the pair were back on the front row for the final scrap of the night.

This time Puerto Rico won out as Daniel Santos beat the Margate-based Iranian Takaloo to unify the WBO and WBU light-middleweight titles.

But they did have a point.

It was hard to leave, even after the lights went down and the supporters began to file away.

If Calzaghe does finally snare Hopkins for a Millennium Stadium showdown, the home of the FA Cup final has some act to follow.

See also:

17 Aug 02 | Boxing
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