How Good Was Joe Calzaghe * really *?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by KO_King, Feb 11, 2024.

  1. Loudon

    Loudon VIP Member Full Member

    Mar 7, 2012
    It’s always fun to debate these things.

    I’m going to have rejoin the debate tomorrow.

    Just 2 quick points:

    1. I don’t believe that many people would rate Mario Veit so highly.

    2. The last 7 fighters literally weren’t world level guys.
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  2. Loudon

    Loudon VIP Member Full Member

    Mar 7, 2012
    I respect that.

    It’s nice debating you.

    Personally, I couldn’t make a case for Joe being anywhere near a top 100 of all time list, even ignoring his resume where you focused just on his H2H ability.

    A guy like Mike McCallum usually doesn’t sniff a top 100, and IMHO, he was on another level to a guy like Joe.
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  3. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Boxing Addict Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    1. I agree most people wouldn't. Veit is the most underrated Calzaghe opponent based on how poor he looked vs Joe. Aside from their 1st fight, Veit was 45-0 going into their rematch and held wins over an unbeaten Jurgen Brahemer and Charles Brewer. That's a decent record.

    2. Agreed. Do you think a boxer exists whose 13th best win at SMW was against a world class fighter?
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2024
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  4. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Boxing Addict Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018

    At the risk of going off on a tangent, McCallum is definitely top 100 all time imo, based on resume and p4p h2h. He's ranked #76 on the best top 100 list I've ever seen -
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  5. Saintpat

    Saintpat Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jun 26, 2009
    But can someone in your reckoning with fewer fights in the division but much higher quality wins not rank higher?

    Let’s say there was a mythical light heavyweight who moved up to heavy and beat, in their relative primes, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Ron Lyle, Earnie Shavers, Jimmy Young and Oscar Bonavena. Then he either retires or moves back down to light heavy.

    Now does this fighter rate below all of the above at heavyweight because their 9-20 heavyweight wins are better? Because you say their resumes are deeper?

    I find it hard to look at Calzaghe at 168 and rate him higher than Roy Jr or James Toney just because they fought a couple of journeymen when the top of their resumes look better.

    I’m not saying your way is wrong. If you want to say a career welter is almost de facto above someone who beat more and better top fighters but then moved up in weight, I guess that’s fair, but I just don’t think the No. 12 win on someone’s resume vault them over someone who beat better fighters at the stop.
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  6. Loudon

    Loudon VIP Member Full Member

    Mar 7, 2012
    I don’t think the division is deep enough.

    Most fighters just used it as a stepping stone.

    It would be better to just rate their top 10 wins.

    All fighters are warriors, but those WBO guys aren’t worth ranking.

    This is the main point:

    Joe has around 10-12 good opponents at the weight.

    But that’s from 43 opponents, over a period of 14 years.

    That’s not good. Especially as none of them were great, and most of them were B level or below.
  7. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Boxing Addict Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    You're assuming I am arguing some things i have not argued for.

    As per a previous post I have made in this thread, I believe that "a fighters top 6 wins are typically more material to their ranking than their 7th best and below wins".

    As per a previous post ive made in this thread, Calzaghe having the best strength in depth to his SMW win resume in the divisions history is a "small" point. A point I make only because people often say Calzaghe’s resume lacks depth. It doesn't, it lacks wins over elite fighters in their prime.

    Assuming the hypothetical LHW you mention beat all of those 8 x fighters conclusively in their respective primes, I'm not sure if I'd rank him above Foreman and Frazier at HW, I'd need more context. It's very unlikely I'd rank him above Ali and likely I'd rank him above the rest.

    If a there was a boxer who had 8 x fights at SMW, won all 8, against prime versions of RJJ, Toney, Calzaghe, Ward, Kessler, Froch, Nunn and Ottke, I'd rank them #1 all time at SMW.

    As it is, I think Calzaghe has a good argument for #1 all time at SMW.
  8. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Boxing Addict Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    Expanding the discussion to encompass entire careers in all weight divisions - it depends who you're comparing him to.

    Of fighters who competed at SMW, RJJ and Toney obviously rank higher.

    Ward is close at SMW and I agree with you that Kovalev x 2 is worth more than Hopkins and a shot RJJ, so he could be argued higher too. Its close either way, imo.

    I don't like ranking active fighters in a historical context, but safe to say Canelo already has a deeper win resume (if based on official wins) than Calzaghe.

    I may be missing someone obvious, but after that I can't think of any boxers who have competed in the officical SMW division who have better win resumes than Calzaghe.

    I've read people say things like "Calzaghe was better than Froch, but Froch has the better record".

    He doesn't.

    At SMW their top 8 wins, taken as a whole, are pretty close. What separates them is:

    1. Calzaghe’s 9th best SMW win and below are better.

    2. Calzaghe never lost, Froch lost twice. Losses do detract from a fighters record.

    3. Calzaghe moved up to beat the best LHW in the world, Froch never left the division.
  9. KO_King

    KO_King Horizontal Heavyweight Full Member

    Apr 16, 2023
    Thank you for your interesting and considered responses. Respectful debate is what these discussions should be all about.
    I did remind myself of some of the other SM resumes, in the running as greats of the division. I agree that some of Joe's best wins stack up well against theirs.
    But I don't agree that our ranking system would be the best way of finding common ground ... 'best 8 wins ' etc requires complete subjectivity.
    For example, I rate some of Ward's individual victories higher than Calzaghes. Though he doesn't have the longevity. I rate Froch's top eight victories better, as he fought consistent names, back to back, while they were still rated highly. I also saw your ranking list for Joe, provided later in the thread - thank you for doing that - and I didn't agree with the assessment of Pudwill, Veit and Giminez, for example. These were all, in my view (then and now), weak defences for an established champion. A fairer way to judge accomplishments, for me, is top quality wins against prime fighters - even if it's against two or three it gives young better gauge of someone's talent. Froch, for example, fares much better here. Calzaghe had perhaps Kessler. I wouldn't personally rate Lacy here, who was a juggernaut of hype steamrolling in from America.
    Again, I'm not trying to knock Joe. I think he had some good wins and good qualities. My argument is that his overall resume - for the length of time he was operating - is fairly underwhelming for how highly he is often rated (I think you are probably right about him amongst Super Middles). He spent years and years fighting low level opposition during his prime years - and should be called out on that when assessing his career.
    I suspect also that, rightly or wrongly, SM has always been something as a 'stepping stone' division - where many fighters don't stay long - has also has affected the depth of quality among the top names there.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2024
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  10. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Boxing Addict Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    You're welcome mate, it's an enjoyable discussion.

    I suspect I agree with you and Loudon on more of our discussion points than I disagree with you. And where I do disagree it's mostly by a matter of degrees, rather than holding fundamentally vastly different views.

    Aside from their first fight, Veit was 45-0 going into to the Calzaghe rematch and holds wins over an unbeaten Jurgen Brahemer (future LHW world titlest) and Charles Brewer (beat Ottke on fair scorecards). Veit wasn't a level above guys like Pudwill, he was 2 levels above them.

    I agree Calzaghe’s resume is weak for a guy with 20 odd world title wins spanning circa a decade.

    I agree that SMW is historically not as strong as some other divisions, most notably the original 8, for obvious reasons.

    I agree that there are boxers, such as RJJ, Toney and possibly Ward, who fought at SMW and rank higher than Calzaghe based on their entire careers.

    I doubt Calzaghe has a case for a top 100 p4p boxer of all time, based on his relatively weak opposition.

    As for the Froch comparison, Calzaghe beat a prime, undefeated Kessler about 9-3/8-4 on the cards. Froch lost to a slightly faded Kessler and then beat a slightly more faded version aroud 7-5/8-4.

    Expanding the discussion beyond just fights at SMW, to their entire respective careers at all weights, which your "SMW is a stepping stone division" comment compels me to, Calzaghe’s 2nd best win is better than Froch's best.

    Froch's 3rd to 8th best wins are comparable to Calzaghe’s, but then 9th and below belong to Joe by a wide margin.

    Calzaghe was ring magazine champion at SMW. He was ring magazine champion at LHW. Ring ranked him as high as the 3rd best p4p fighter in the world.

    Froch was never a ring magazine champion in any divison and whilst I thought I recalled him briefly being ranked #10 by the ring p4p, I can't now see him there on any of the annual ratings.

    Ranking Calzaghe as an ATG alongside the likes of Hopkins or even Toney, is overrating him, relative the opposition he faced. Ranking him below Froch is most definitely, and frankly demonstrably, underrating him.
  11. Stevie G

    Stevie G Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jul 17, 2009
    Spot on Fergy. One of the very best 168lb men and number one Brit in that division.
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  12. Fergy

    Fergy Walking Dead Full Member

    Jan 8, 2017
    Definitely mate. He might not have been everyone's taste but he beat everyone he faced over a long period of time.
    Just a pity he wasn't around the same time as peak Benn and Eubank.
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  13. mhudson

    mhudson Member Full Member

    Nov 4, 2022
    As frustrating as parts of his reign were, when you view his career as a whole you have to recognise him as a genuinely great fighter.

    A lot of it is about perspective. I'm not going to beat the guy up too much about the Pudwills and McIntyres on his record when he has a win over Bernard Hopkins during one of the best runs in his career. Missing out on unification with Ottke is less significant when he cleaned up the division in style against unbeaten Lacy and Kessler.

    The resume is thin in parts, and that prevents him from breaking into the next category of greatness, but all in all a damn impressive body of work and a nightmare for most 168 fighters in history. I'd only pick prime Roy over him with confidence, and Ward is a coin toss.
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  14. Ney

    Ney Member Full Member

    Feb 13, 2024
    He never got enough credit in his time, & probably gets too much now. A very good fighter but never what I would consider someone in an all-timers discussion.
  15. Mod-Mania

    Mod-Mania Boxing Addict Full Member

    Aug 12, 2012
    Great fighter but i wish he tested himself sooner.
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