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Page last updated at 06:44 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 07:44 UK

Calzaghe the greatest - McGuigan

By Ben Dirs

Joe Calzaghe (left) and Barry McGuigan

Barry McGuigan has backed Joe Calzaghe's credentials as the best boxer Britain has ever produced.

The Welshman extended his unbeaten record to 45 fights by beating Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas on 20 April.

"His record alone tells us that he's probably the best fighter we've ever had," former featherweight world champion McGuigan told BBC Sport.

"Also the amount of world champions he's beaten and the way he's conducted his life, he has to be up there."

McGuigan cemented his place in boxing history when he claimed the WBA featherweight title with a famous victory over Eusebio Pedroza at Loftus Road in 1985.

But the 'Clones Cyclone' reckons Calzaghe, who has not suffered defeat in 18 years and who has made 21 world title defences at super-middleweight, could hold his own against any boxer from these shores, past and present.

Boxing always has been and remains a sanctuary in troubled places

Barry McGuigan

"There'll be those old-timers who say he wasn't as good as Jimmy Wilde or Benny Lynch or Jim Driscoll or Randolph Turpin or Nigel Benn, whatever.

"Boxing's about styles and his style may not appeal to everybody, but he could well be the best boxer this country has produced."

McGuigan was in London in his role of patron for boxing charity Fight for Peace, which recently had its official launch in Woolwich.

Fight for Peace was set up by former amateur boxer Luke Dowdney in Rio de Janeiro a decade ago, and McGuigan believes it can be as relevant and successful in England as it has been in Brazil.

"There's a lot of gun and knife crime in London at the moment and Luke decided he wanted to do something like what he was doing in Brazil," he said.

"It has been a great success so far. The gym is full of kids who have come from difficult backgrounds. We've offered them a chance to get educated and into boxing.

"This is their second family. Ultimately it's about feeling as though they have a purpose in life. There is a lot of tension and crime in London and ill-will towards one another.

"Boxing always has been and remains a sanctuary in these troubled places. It's a moral place, a hard-working place and gives kids a focus."

see also
Fight for Peace photos
29 Apr 08 |  Boxing
Tarver targets Calzaghe contest
21 Apr 08 |  Boxing
Calzaghe v Hopkins photos
19 Apr 08 |  Boxing

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