Now that Joe Calzaghe has given his notice of retirement and I've done the impartial thing below, it's time to really reflect on what Calzaghe's career meant, who he was as a fighter, and how he'll remembered.
Keep in mind I am not a Calzaghe hater. In his latter days as an active boxer, he did annoy me greatly with all his moronic "boxing is dying" talk, as if it was the fault of the sport that no one wanted to pay to see his pathetic exhibition against a washed-up Roy Jones.
Calzaghe has credentials. 46-0 record, inarguably the greatest super middleweight of all-time to this point, great natural gifts with his speed and reflexes, and a brilliant mind. He was 100% a ring general. Six months before Bernard Hopkins wore out Kelly Pavlik and wailed on him for 12 rounds, Calzaghe had mentally pushed Hopkins around for much of their fight and sent the then-light heavyweight world champion into the reserve tanks, no easy task against infamous fitness freak Hopkins.
But the greatest question is this. Now that he's retired at just shy of 37 years of age, will boxing really miss Joe Calzaghe?
I can't help but say that the sport won't miss him at all.
It's not a knock on Calzaghe as a guy or as a fighter. He was very talented and during those years people knocked him for not fighting anyone, you can certainly say that Roy Jones or whoever certainly weren't looking actively to make a fight with Joe, either. Of course, there's always two sides to the argument. Why would they have wanted to? Calzaghe never made an attempt to become a bigger star than just British celebrity. He never meant money in the States -- not once. Not for any single fight of his career.
You can blame Frank Warren all you want, but Joe never made a real effort to become a star. Warren has said that is/was the main difference between Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton. Hatton went the extra mile for publicity. Calzaghe didn't.
Calzaghe's five "biggest" wins (Hopkins, Jones, Kessler, Lacy and Eubank) are mostly fairly easy to pick apart, though I'd give him full credit for Hopkins and Kessler. The Jones fight was a farce and the boxing public's apathy toward it sealed that belief, Lacy proved to not be what many believed of him, and Eubank was on his last legs.
Will there soon be another fighter like Calzaghe? Highly unlikely. Joe was rather one of a kind stylistically -- that might be a good or bad thing, depending on your view of Calzaghe.
But I can say with all respect to what he did accomplish in the sport, and as someone that considered him one of the best in the world pound-for-pound for the latter portion of his career, that I'm not sad or anything that I won't see Joe fight again if this retirement proves real. I almost hate to say that, but I'm not going to be dishonest. He was a hell of a boxer, he won all his fights, but I feel no regret with his retirement. It was a great career, and now it's over. The world keeps spinnin'.
He was polarizing. He had a great legion of fans that really loved him, though he was not Ricky Hatton or anything in that regard. He also had scores of people who doubted him every step of the way, and questioned his greatness no matter what he did. His career is shrouded by questions about his opposition, his desire to really fight the best the sport had to offer, and that stuff will never go away. History may not be terribly kind to Calzaghe, but he did earn what was his. He had a Hall of Fame career, and he'll be remembered. How fondly, I don't know.