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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006, 16:09 GMT
Clinical Calzaghe
Pugilistic historians will surely judge Joe Calzaghe's ruthless 12-round demolition of Jeff Lacy as one of the all-time great British world championship performances.

The Welsh hero was still searching for his career-defining fight at the age of 33 when he squared up to the big-hitting American at Manchester's MEN Arena on 5 March 2006.

Calzaghe had defended his WBO super-middleweight belt 17 times since out-pointing Chris Eubank for the vacant title in October 1997.

Then at last his promoter Frank Warren secured him a showdown with one of the genuine big guns from across the ocean.

IBF and IBO champion "Left Hook" Lacy boasted an unbeaten record and the reputation as one of the best finishers in the business.

But the 28-year-old Florida banger was cut to ribbons by the boy from Newbridge, whose relentless onslaught reduced him to no more than cannon-fodder.

The victory did more than ensure Calzaghe remained the longest reigning champion in world boxing.

It catapulted him into boxing nirvana - the world's top 10 pound-for-pound list.

To his credit, Calzaghe had been making all the right noises for a long time before dismantling Lacy.

The rangy southpaw has previously called out modern-day legends Roy Jones and former undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, but both refused to take the bait.

Calzaghe has also talked of stepping up to light heavyweight to try to tempt the likes of Glencoffe Johnson or Antonio Tarver.

And he may get his wish now American TV bosses have been served further notice of his talents.

CALZAGHE FACT FILE
Born: 23/03/1972
Turned pro: 01/10/1993
Divison:Super-middleweight
Record: 41 (31) 0
Alias: The Terminator
Height: 6ft
Reach: 75in
Trainer: Enzo Calzaghe
Promoter: Frank Warren

Calzaghe turned professional in 1993 after a glittering amateur career which featured three ABA titles at different weights.

He won the British super middleweight title in his 14th professional fight and made nine defences before challenging the battle-hardened Eubank for the WBO crown.

Calzaghe served notice of his punching power by flooring the shop-worn Eubank in the opening round and went on to take a bruising encounter on points.

But a series of uninspiring defences followed, leading some to believe the great Welsh hope was nothing of the sort.

It transpired Calzaghe had been hampered by an injury to his left hand, but he returned to form with an impressive fifth-round knock-out of Omar Sheika in August 2000.

There followed striking wins over former WBC champion Richie Woodhall (TKO 10), undefeated German Mario Veit (TKO 1) and America's Will McIntyre, before a humdinger of a fight against the dangerous Charles Brewer.

KEY FIGHTS
11/10/1997: Outpoints Chris Eubank to win WBO super-middleweight title
20/04/2002: Outclasses Charles Brewer to increase his box-office State-side
05/03/2006: Hammers IBF champion Jeff Lacy to unify the division

The dramatic bout at the Cardiff International Arena was shown State-side, and a convincing win on points confirmed Calzaghe's reputation as one of the world's best 168Ibs fighters.

Calzaghe has since defeated Las Vegas doorman Miguel Jimenez (W12) and journeyman Tocker Pudwill (TKO2), both fights adding little to his reputation.

But the frustrations at not landing a big unification clash were becoming all too obvious.

Calzaghe laboured to a 12-round points win over Kenyan Evans Ashira in September and there were genuine fears whether he would ever get the opportunity to fulfil his massive potential.

But against Lacy he finally got his chance and took it.

At 33, Calzaghe has two or three good years left in him.

He is now clearly the number one at 168lbs and can look to clean up the division by adding Mikkel Kessler's WBA belt or Marcus Beyer's WBC title to his growing collection.

Alternatively, his impressive silencing of Lacy means a match-up with the likes of Jones, Hopkins, Johnson or Tarver could well be on the cards.




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