Right up until the moment he had defeated Roy Jones Jr last month, the undefeated Welshman Joe Calzaghe said that fight would be his last. Is that still the case? Britain's most decorated champion - 46 wins (32 KOs), no defeats and long untouched in the super middleweight division - kept saying that, at 36, he would have nothing to prove after defeating Americans Bernard Hopkins and Jones this year on their own soil. Now he's done it, he wavers. It's an old story in boxing.
Calzaghe recently said he had already been back to the gym, hitting the bags and sharing a cup of tea with his stablemates. Right after beating Jones at New York's Madison Square Garden last month, Calzaghe had wisely said, when asked about accepting the challenge of undefeated young light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, that "there's always someone young coming through. It was the same with [Danish super middleweight champion Mikkel] Kessler".
Calzaghe is right. There is no end to the next challenge so if he stops now there would always be in a debate over who was the greatest British boxer. But how many stop at the top? Not many. "Very rarely do you get a guy with his kind of record retire on top," said fellow Briton David Haye, the undefeated former cruiserweight champion and now heavyweight contender. "Roy Jones should have retired after he beat [then WBA heavyweight champion] John Ruiz but he tainted his legacy by carrying on."
Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who retired after successfully defending his title against Vitali Klitschko, has advised Calzaghe to stop, arguing he has nothing to prove because "he's beaten everyone there is to beat". After holding some form of the super middleweight title for 10 years and then moving up to light heavyweight to successfully defeat Hopkins and Jones, perhaps so. Yet, as Haye points out, who in boxing retires at the top of their skills and earning power?
"This year I beat two legends, and I came to the US to do it,'' Calzaghe said. "This was a fairytale fight and a fairytale ending." True, but a boxing career seldom ends like a fairytale. Perhaps it will be different this time because Calzaghe said recently he believes the sport is not what it once was. "I think boxing is a dying sport," Calzaghe said. "There is too much politics in boxing, too many belts and too many champions, which dilutes real champions like myself. There are four world champions in each division and it's bad because there are no stars any more. It's a big problem.
"I'm glad I'm ending my career and not starting it because I don't think the future is going to be that great." Whether that future is to include he won't reveal until the new year. firstname.lastname@example.org