Wed, Nov 29, 2006 - Page 20 News List

IBF champ Calzaghe gives up belt to fight TV contender


Joe Calzaghe, right, swings a punch at Cameroon's Sakio Bika during their WBO super middleweight fight in Manchester, England, on Oct. 14.


Joe Calzaghe has given up the IBF super middleweight title he won impressively from Jeff Lacy, and his March 3 fight against TV boxing reality show star Peter Manfredo Jr will be his 20th defense of the WBO crown.

Unbeaten in 42 fights, Calzaghe said on Monday he had decided to fight Manfredo of the US rather than opt for a defense against IBF mandatory challenger Robert Stieglitz.

"It's disappointing to give up the IBF but Stieglitz doesn't mean anything out of Germany," said the Welshman, who has been a world champion for nine years since taking the WBO crown from the long retired Chris Eubank.

Calzaghe will fight Manfredo at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Although Calzaghe outboxed Lacy for 12 rounds to capture the IBF crown in March, he struggled in his last defense of both titles, surviving a cut and failing to unload his big shots before gaining a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika on Oct. 14.

Now he takes on Manfredo, the runner-up in the first series of The Contender, who has lost three of his 29 professional fights.

"If you thought of him as just a reality TV show fighter it should be a walkover, inside a couple of rounds. But I've watched his last few fights and he does look a good contender," Calzaghe said.

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