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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK
Calzaghe gets MBE
Joe Calzaghe with wife Mandy
Calzaghe makes his 13th title defence later this month
Joe Calzaghe was delighted to be recognised for his six years as a world super-middleweight champion after receiving an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Calzaghe has held the World Boxing Organisation 12-stone belt since dethroning Chris Eubank in 1997, but admitted he was surprised to get a letter from Buckingham Palace.

"I'm proud to get the honour and it is another feather in my cap really after my years as champion," Calzaghe said.

"I'm really looking forward to going down to London with my family to receive it."

The Newbridge boxer joked that he feared bad news after the letter was sent to his parents' house and his mother, who has the same initial, opened the envelope.

As far as I'm concerned I'm the genuine world champion
Joe Calzaghe, MBE

"My dad (Enzo) was ringing me teasing that I'd had some bad news from the Inland Revenue. Even when he told me about the MBE I thought he was winding me up."

Calzaghe has won all 35 of his professional bouts and makes his 13th title defence against American Byron Mitchell on home soil in Cardiff on 28 June.

He turned professional after a glittering amateur career, which provided an unprecedented three consecutive Amateur Boxing Association titles at different weights.

Since beating Eubank, he has seen off a series of top-line opponents such as Robin Reid and Richie Woodhall.

But the 31-year-old is still seeking what he terms a "career-defining fight" against one of the big American names like Roy Jones Jr or Bernard Hopkins, although he raised his profile Stateside by beating Charles Brewer.

CALZAGHE FACTFILE
Born: 23/03/1972
Turned pro: 01/10/1993
Belt: WBO super-middleweight
Record: 35(28ko)-0
Height: 6ft
Reach: 75in
Trainer: Enzo Calzaghe
Promoter: Frank Warren

Even European champions are reluctant to test their mettle against the tough-as-nails Calzaghe, with Germany's Sven Ottke - who holds the IBF and WBA belts - avoiding a unification clash.

"I don't see Ottke as competition because I am sure I would destroy him," Calzaghe said.

"As far as I'm concerned I am the genuine world champion but I would still like to fight him because he has got the belts."

Calzaghe has been taking it easily recently in his build-up to the Mitchell fight because three recent postponements severely disrupted his training programme.

"It's been a really frustrating time for me and I've been feeling a bit tired and jaded," Calzaghe said.

"The doctor basically told me I'd been over-training, so I've had an easy week, picked myself back up and now I'm sure I'm back to my usual self."

A dedicated family man, Calzaghe's new gym in Cwmcarn - where he is trained by his father - is always open to Valleys youngsters keen to try the sport.




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