JOE CALZAGHE SAYS: I've got the boxing buzz back

First published in Sport

I HAVE had a brilliant couple of weeks, I really have the boxing buzz back at the moment.

Don’t get any ideas about a Joe Calzaghe comeback, but having not really been associated with the sport for a few months, I got back into the swing of things last week and it was a truly brilliant experience.

I was in New York to attend the annual Boxing Writers Assoc-iation of America’s awards dinner.

The awards have been running for 84 years and it was a huge honour for me to receive the award of Manager of the Year for promoting my final fight against Roy Jones.

Only George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins have won the award previously as fighters so it was a truly massive honour and I believe you can check out my acceptance speech on the South Wales Argus website - southwalesargus.co.uk.

I was also runner-up to Manny Pacquiao in the award for fighter of the year and I got to meet Manny, a fighter I greatly admire, for the first time.

He was extremely good company and we were both complimentary about each other, I love watching Manny fight and he assured me the feeling was mutual which was great to hear.

It’s been a long time since I was involved in a ‘big fight’ environment and as such I was thrilled to go to Madison Square Garden and watch the fight between Miguel Cotto and Josh Clottey.

Cotto enjoyed a brilliant support from his passionate Puerto Rican fans and they gave me a great ovation as well, but I think I know why.

In 2001 at a press conference B-Hop snatched a Puerto Rican flag out of Felix Trinidad’s hand and threw it on the floor, before going on to win the fight with a TKO in the final round.

He actually did the stunt twice, in New York and then in Puerto Rico, and the second time it practically caused a riot, so B-Hop is about as popular there as he is in Wales!

Therefore, I think Cotto’s supporters were pretty happy to cheer a guy who had beaten Bernard.

It was great to go back to Madison Square Garden, in a way it was almost like being there for the first time.

When I fought Roy Jones I barely had a chance to take anything in as I was so focused on the fight, returning there just reminded me how happy I am that I got to fight at the ‘Garden’ before retiring, it’s truly a sporting Mecca.

The whole experience in the States was fantastic; I get great recognition from the American public and to win Manager of the Year, I feel like it completely vindicates the decision I made to leave my former promoter.

Speaking of which, though I can’t say too much, it was a great relief to me that judges refused permission for Sports Network to appeal a High Court ruling that they must pay me £1.8 million in fees for the Hopkins fight.

The judges said there was “no prospect at all” of the Court of Appeal overturning the judge’s decision and hopefully this business will be behind me sooner rather than later.

Like I mentioned earlier, I have the boxing buzz back and hopefully, within the next month or so, we will have a big announcement to make regarding Calzaghe Promotions.

I think that my career, as a fighter for so many years, gives me a good insight into boxing, both in and out of the ring.

We have big plans for Calzaghe Promotions, I don’t get involved in things half-heartedly and I want our promotions company to be the future, the tomorrow of boxing.

Hopefully, we will be in a position to really do something big for Gavin Rees, Bradley Pryce and Tony Doherty as well as a host of other fighters.

The three of them have shown great loyalty to my dad Enzo and we want to reward that by getting them fights to push them all towards world level as they all have the talent to be there.

They’ve been really excited by our plans and Gavin and Bradley are actually seeing a dietician at the moment, which shows just how serious they are about making the rest of 2009 a year to remember for themselves.

Dad is also buzzing, as he alluded to in the Argus last week, if things go ahead he will once again have a gym packed with fighters and even at 60, he has lost none of his passion or talent for training.

It has become easy to knock dad with fighters leaving because of politics and he was thrilled recently when Nathan Cleverly called him to apologise for some headlines about him leaving the Team Calzaghe gym.

Dad has enormous affection for Nathan and as he told the Argus last week, he was upset that people were making headlines by knocking him.

I suppose there are a couple of other orders of business to mention in closing.

Firstly, Jo-Emma, my girlfriend, has a new film out this week on DVD, Goal III, a sequel to the football film with Anna Friel.

She also features in the trailer, punching a football fan in the face, and it is nice to see that some work on the pads with me has given her such a tasty right hook!

It’s a good watch for followers of the beautiful game.

And finally, I know I can’t get away with making no comment on the rumours that I will be on Strictly Come Dancing this year.

The truth is, there is no news at the moment, I haven’t, as reported, signed up for the show.

I have two left feet according to my girlfriend, but I know a lot of sports people have done it and really enjoyed the experience.

I hope that is vague enough for now! That’s my polite way of saying, ‘no comment.’ I guess you’ll have to watch this space.

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