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Hatton hails Calzaghe as the best

Joe Calzaghe
Joe Calzaghe celebrates after beating Mikkel Kessler in Cardiff

Ricky Hatton has paid tribute to Joe Calzaghe by describing him as the "best British fighter we've ever had".

Undefeated world super-middleweight and light-heavyweight champion Calzaghe announced his retirement on Thursday.

The 36-year-old Welshman, reigned as a world champion for more than 11 years with a glittering record of 46 wins from 46 fights.

Hatton told BBC Radio Wales: "To hold the title for as long as he did is an absolutely phenomenal achievement."

Calzaghe, trained by his father, Enzo, became British super-middleweight champion in 1995 and captured his first world title in 1997, outpointing Chris Eubank to claim the WBO crown.

Despite suffering from several hand injuries, Calzaghe defended the title a total of 21 times, adding the IBF version to his trophy cabinet with a stunning victory over American Jeff Lacy in March 2006.

He then claimed the WBA and WBC belts with a unanimous points win over Denmark's Mikkel Kessler at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 4 November, 2007.

Calzaghe's final two fights cemented his reputation as one of Britain's greatest ever boxers.

Stepping up to light-heavyweight and fighting in the United States for the first time, he won a split decision against Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas to become 'The Ring' light-heavyweight champion.

He then finished his career with a comprehensive points victory over the legendary Roy Jones Jr at New York's Madison Square Garden on 8 November.

Joe Calzaghe (right) and Ricky Hatton
Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe at Sports Personality of the Year in 2007

Along with Hatton, Calzaghe is regarded as one the best British boxers of their generation and one of the most popular.

"I was delighted with the way he finished his career," addded former light-welterweight champion Hatton.

"To be perfectly honest, with everything that Joe had achieved in his career, if he didn't get the chance to top the bill in Vegas and Madison Square Garden, I think it would have been a crying shame."

Hatton, who came third behind Calzaghe who was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2007, also told Good Morning Wales programme that certain people should not criticise Calzaghe for the quality of his opponents.

"He has fought everyone that's been put in front of him," said the Mancunian boxer.

"His best wins were Lacy and Kessler as they were unbeaten and ambitious.

"And to be honest, beating Roy Jones Jr and Hopkins are equally as good results regardless of age.

"Anybody who tries to put Joe Calzaghe's record down doesn't know what they are talking about as far as I'm concerned."

see also
The pride of a nation
06 Feb 09 |  Boxing
Calzaghe's 10 career highs
05 Feb 09 |  Boxing
Calzaghe the greatest - Lockett
05 Feb 09 |  Boxing
Reaction to Calzaghe retirement
06 Feb 09 |  Boxing
Calzaghe's career in pictures
05 Feb 09 |  Boxing
Calzaghe wins Sports Personality
10 Dec 07 |  Sport Homepage
Wales' pugilist princes
07 Mar 06 |  Boxing

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