JOE Calzaghe is set for one of the biggest honours of his career this weekend as he’s inducted into boxing’s hall of fame as a first ballot entrant.
Ahead of his trip across the Atlantic, Joe and his father and trainer Enzo sat down for an interview with Argus boxing writer Michael Pearlman.
This is the final report of a four part special with the Calzaghes ahead of their huge honour tonight in New York.
Today Enzo admits his hurt at leaving boxing facing “rejection”and blasts Carl Froch and George Groves for Saturday’s “dismal and pathetic,” world title fight.
Enzo... On the way he left boxing
“Joe misses it, but I miss it, maybe even more than he does.
“Joe can say he went out his terms. I can’t say that. I felt I had more to give as a trainer, but boxing didn’t want me to give it. The sport rejected me.
“Joe splitting with Frank Warren made things difficult, it made it uncomfortable with our undercard fighters, our attempt at being promoters didn’t work, but I still feel I was outcast from boxing, trainers don’t get very well looked after in the sport.
“It’s one of the few ways I respect Carl Froch, he has proper respect for his trainer Rob McCracken, they seem to have a beautiful understanding.”
Enzo on... Carl Froch and George Groves
“As a person, really, I don’t have a problem with Carl, I’d say hello to him.
“All the stuff calling out Joe, it was fine, he was trying to make name for himself and now he has done just that in his own right.
“But don’t try and tell me I should respect his boxing style. Come on, he isn’t a great boxer and I can’t believe some people I respect are saying he is.
“Saturday’s fight was the worst million pound fight I’ve ever seen in my life. Do you understand me? I mean for a fight where both boxers are getting a huge pay day. It was rubbish, dismal, pathetic even.
“They both deserved to have their purses cut in four. I’m a punter and there was no action.
“One is running around like a rabbit, shying away from throwing more than single shots and the other one just did what he always does, which is stand in the middle of the ring and rely on strength, the only thing in his armoury.
“Truthfully, as a trainer, George Groves isn’t at a world class level and I don’t know if he ever will be. I like him a lot, but he looks fragile in his movements to me.
“I think Carl Froch did a number on him mentally, he tapped into something and George couldn’t recover.
“I had a fighter called Bradley Pryce and when he got hit, he used to say “thank you.” I get the impression George Groves doesn’t have that side to him, that machismo you need to reach the top. Carl Froch does.
“If you look at the punch that ends the fight, what the hell is he doing? He doesn’t tuck in his chin, he turns away from it, he made a £100,000 punch look like a £1,000,000 punch.
“Carl punches hard and he’s a tough cookie.
“But if he’d have fought Joe, it would’ve been very similar to the Jeff Lacy fight.
“There is no slowing down in Joe and he had the style Froch couldn’t compete with.
“On the other hand, Froch’s strengths, power and a good chin, Joe had both.
“Joe would’ve destroyed Carl and stopped him around eight or nine, not knocked him out, just stopped him.
“I honestly think it’s a shame they never fought. It would’ve answered a lot of opinionated people, myself included.
“But Joe’s style would beat Carl’s any day of the week. We came up with a plan to beat Jeff Lacy with one hand, Mikkel Kessler at his peak and Bernard Hopkins when he was a youngster! So I think we could’ve worked out how to beat Carl.”
Enzo on... the call from the hall and his own personal career highlight
“Without a doubt the best moment for me, when I look back, with Joe anyway, was the Bernard Hopkins fight in Las Vegas in 2008.
“It’s because of what Hopkins has done since. At the time he was the best light heavyweight in the world and now six years later, over six years, he’s still the best light heavyweight in the world. He will be 50 soon; he’s an incredible, incredible athlete.
“And people need to remember that when Joe fought Hopkins, he had three people in his corner and one of them was my brother Sergio. Hopkins had Freddie Roach and about six other specialists in his camp. His entourage was bigger than a Calzaghe family get together.
“Yet we beat him, we worked out a style to win the fight and when I look back, I think ‘I can’t have been too bad as a trainer. In fact, I was probably pretty good.’
Tonight will be the ultimate honour for Joe, it’s a tremendous thing. I dreamed about it, my son in the hall of fame and for him to go in as a first ballot entrant, it’s fantastic. It’s like when I won the Ring Magazine award, it’s just the pinnacle, it is fantastic, and to me it puts the cap on everything. No more can be done, but it’s a nice way to go out.”