Last night saw a real-life Rocky story at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, albeit without the ending. Peter Manfredo Jr, runner-up on the American reality TV show the Contender, challenged Joe Calzaghe, the undefeated Welsh Super-Middleweight WBO and IBF champion.
The Americans widely predicted the fairytale would happen, but were incensed when Brummie referee Terry O'Connor stopped the fight in the third round. Most commentators believed it had been stopped too early for a title fight without a punch really hurting the young pretender, but most agreed it would only have been a matter of time before Calzaghe won the match. Supporters of the decision noted that Manfredo was not throwing any punches back, so the referee had no option.
It is difficult to understand why the Americans thought Manfredo had a chance against Calzaghe. After the match Manfredo himself implied this was perhaps a step too far. Many in Britain regard Calzaghe as pound-for-pound the best boxer in the world today. He has seen off tougher, more experienced opponents than Manfredo who has lost a couple of bouts against lesser opposition. Either the Americans have a deep-rooted belief in the American Dream, or they do not give Calzaghe the respect he deserves. Barry Mcguigan asked the question: when are they going to realise just how good Calzaghe is?
Probably only if he takes US citizenship.