One of the best fighters the United Kingdom has ever produced, Joe Calzaghe hung up his gloves never having tasted defeat and as Ring light-heavyweight champion of the world. The Welshman from Italian stock won the WBO middleweight crown from Chris Eubank and remained a world champion until his retirement in February 2009.
During that time he became the undisputed super-middleweight champion before relinquishing those belts to test himself at light-heavyweight. Few fighters can have felt so satisfied at leaving the ring with nothing more to prove.
Blessed with incredible speed, Calzaghe threw more punches than anyone. He may not have been the biggest puncher but the cumulative effect of his quick-fire blows combined with his incredible determination wore his opponents down. A southpaw with a rather unconventional style, Calzaghe began boxing at the age of nine and was trained by his eccentric Italian father, Enzo, throughout his career.
No fight better demonstrates Calzaghe's desire and adaptability than his win over Kenyan Evans Ashira, in 2005. The Welshman broke his left hand in just the third round of the fight but incredibly fought on, using only his right to secure a decisive points victory.
It was the later years of his career that came to define Calzaghe's legacy. He spent much of his career chasing two of the biggest names of his generation, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. For one reason or another the fights never happened until what turned out to be the final two bouts of Calzhage's illustrious career. In April 2008 he stepped up a weight division to fight Hopkins in Las Vegas for the Ring light-heavyweight title. Calzhaghe started slowly in his first ever fight on American soil and Hopkins knocked him to the canvas in the first round. But as the fight went on he began to deal with Hopkins and impose his own rhythm on the American. In the end he took the fight by split decision.
Calzaghe went on to fight Jones in what would be his final outing. Fittingly it took place in boxing's spiritual home, Madison Square Garden. Again he seemed to be up against it, going down in the first round to a blow from Jones' forearm.
But once more Calzaghe fought back. He was far more dominant than he had been against Hopkins and cut Jones in the seventh before going on to a comfortable points victory to retain the Ring light-heavyweight title and end his career on a high. His record reads 46 fights, 46 victories, 32 by knockout and he is only the third European boxer ever to retire as an undefeated world champion.