WIDELY considered one of the UK’s best ever boxers, Joe Calzaghe dominated the super-middleweight division and retired with his unbeaten record intact, scalping the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Jeff Lacy, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jnr. Currently celebrating the release of a new film (Mr Calzaghe) focusing on his time in the ring, Joe has been able to reflect on his own career, while also casting a keen eye over some of Britain’s current leading fighters.
Are you happy with the film?
Yeah, absolutely. I’m happy with it, I’m pretty proud of it. I’m a very proud family man and I’m also very private. Watching it back, it’s very emotional. My grandfather passed away earlier this year, he’s the original Joe Calzaghe, ‘The Godfather’. He worked hard all his life, he was an amazing guy. I gave him my first belt. He passed away at 90, it’s a pity he couldn’t be here, but the film’s dedicated to him. I think the film is not just for boxing fans, it’s got a story and it tells the story of where I’m from, and there are a lot of things in there that not many people know, like me being bullied in school. Other things as well, like me being injured all the time. So it’s not all rosy being an undefeated boxer. I got told by a specialist when I was 17 that I would never box again because of a wrist injury. I didn’t box for a year-and-a-half, but I still had the belief and the support of my family. So it’s a celebration, not just of my career, but also the support of my family, especially my dad [Enzo].
As you say, you’ve always been quite a private person, so what made you want to do the film?
I got approached about two years ago. I’ve been living in London for about five years and I’ve been approached by directors and so on and they said, ‘Joe, we want to do a movie on you, a feature film.’ So they sent me the scripts but it wasn’t really the right time. Then two years ago I met [the film’s director] Vaughan [Sivell] and had a chat with him. I’m happy in my own skin away from boxing, if you know what I mean. I can look back and think, ‘Wow, was that me? Did I do that?’ So I’m proud reflecting on it and looking back. It’s nice for my dad to remember it and for my sons and my mum to get involved, so it just felt right. I wanted to get my passion across, not just about being a champion. At first I wasn’t sure because I’m quite private, but I’m glad I went through with it. I’ve had a great response.
Do you keep an eye on the super-middleweights?
Not really. It’s gone downhill since I left!
The division leader is James DeGale now.
Yeah, I like James, he’s a pal of mine. I can sympathise with him as well because he gets criticism like the criticism I used to get for years. People like him, he’s got fast hands, he’s a little bit spicy like me. I like him. He’s a bit brash but that’s a good attitude to have, it does good business and as long as he doesn’t lose again now he has the title, I think he’ll do really well.
He’s a work in progress. Like me when I fought Chris Eubank, I was gassed after seven rounds and I struggled a bit. Although he’s world champion, the experience of fighting 12 rounds with top-quality fighters doesn’t come overnight. I fought Eubank in ’97 and then beat [Jeff] Lacy nine years later – I was a completely different animal.
He’s learning all the time, but I’ve always been impressed with him. He can go on to big things.
This interview was originally published in Boxing News magazine
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