ON THIS DAY in 2006, Joe Calzaghe retained his WBO and IBF super-middleweight titles, winning a unanimous decision over future WBC Champion Sakio Bika in Manchester.
CALZAGHE was making the 19th defence of his WBO title that he won way back in 1997, when he beat Chris Eubank, whilst also making the first defence of his new IBF belt that he took from Jeff Lacy the fight before.
THERE was a stacked undercard, with Enzo Maccarinelli retaining his WBO cruiserweight title, Derry Mathews getting the better of Stephen Foster Jnr, whilst Nathan Cleverly, Paul Smith, Kell Brook and a debuting Anthony Crolla all fought that night.
FOLLOWING the fight, Calzaghe only fought four more times, stopping Peter Manfredo Jnr, before unifying the division by beating Mikkel Kessler and then beating Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jnr in the USA.
AS for 2000 Olympian Bika, he finally claimed a world title in 2013, after other losses to Lucian Bute and Andre Ward, before losing the WBC belt in August this year to Anthony Dirrell.
BIKA went into the fight of the back of a technical draw with Markus Beyer for the WBC title. The Jeff Fenech managed “Scorpion”, a nickname he acquired after surviving a bite when he was 12, was considered too small to give Calzaghe a test.
HE was described by Boxing News as, “a strong, busy, rangy exponent with a reasonable jab and a dig in the right, but like a lot of Aussie fighters, he lacks finer edges.”
BIKA was assumed to be made for Calzaghe whose, “experience, power, speed and workrate make him a sure thing.” But it didn’t go entirely go to plan.
THE fight was almost in jeopardy at the pre-fight weigh in when Bika took four attempts to make the 12st limit. He claimed he was well under and had a large glass of water, which then had to pass through his system.
CALZAGHE did win on all three scorecards, 117-110 twice and 116-111, but Bika made it difficult for him. Bika was a “crude, aggressive puncher”, but he sat back and made Calzaghe come to him, a tactic that made the Newbridge man appear “sloppy and clumsy.”
BIKA was deducted a point in the fifth for, unsurprisingly for anyone who has seen him fight, careless headwork, but later claimed Calzaghe was “the dirtiest fighter he had ever faced!”
IT must have been rough, as Calzaghe who rarely, if ever, marked up after a fight, came back out to support Nathan Cleverly, who was the float fight, with stitches, a swollen jaw and an extremely bruised face.
THIS was Calzaghe’s first fight on HBO, as they and Warren began to build him towards a super fight. Eventually he would take on Kessler, Hopkins and Jones, before retiring with a perfect 46-0 record. He was also recently inducted into the Hall of Fame.
HOWEVER Calzaghe always concedes that Bika gave him one of his toughest nights.