Millennium Stadium Wants Joe Calzaghe To Come 'home'
30 June 2003 13:10pm
Millennium Stadium manager Paul Sergeant is to seek urgent talks with fight promotor Frank Warren to see if the home of Welsh sport can host a special 10th anniversary fight for world champion Joe Calzaghe.
Hot on the heels of the Welsh warrior's sensational second round knock-out of American Byron Mitchell in Cardiff last weekend, all the talk is of the 31-year-old Newbridge super-middleweight facing another American, the hard hitting Bernard Hopkins, at the Millennium Stadium in September.
"It was another remarkable performance by Joe Calzaghe last weekend which marks him out as one of the greatest Welsh sportsmen of all-time," said Sergeant.
"I've read a lot of headlines linking Joe with a unification fight against Bernard Hopkins at the Millennium Stadium later in the year and, from our point of view, we would love to try to arrange such a prestigious event.
"It will be 10 years on 1 October this year that Joe made his professional debut at the old Cardiff Arms Park on the undercard of the Lennox Lewis v Frank Bruno World heavyweight title fight bill. He started as he meant to go on with a first round knock-out of Paul Hanlon.
"Wouldn't it be great if he came home to the Millennium Stadium to be roared on by a huge Welsh crowd in his biggest fight to date.
"Since 1993, the Arms Park has been replaced by the Millennium Stadium and we can now guarantee a dry arena thanks to the closing roof. The 20,000 fans who turned up to watch Lewis beat Bruno got very wet as the heavens opened 10 years ago, but times have changed over the years.
"Now the Millennium Stadium is a world renowned, multi-sport venue that would be the natural choice for Joe, his promoters and American TV. We could easily double the numbers that turned out in 1993 and even look to top the record 40,000+ crowd that turned out to see Mexico's Vincente Saldivar
outpoint Howard Winstone over 15 rounds at Ninian Park in June,1967."
For the record, the first title fight to be staged at the Arms Park was a British Lightweight battle between Eric Boon and Swansea's Ronnie James on 12 August, 1944. James took the title away from Boon when the referee stopped the contest in the 10th round. Having won the title James promptly retired.
The Lewis-Bruno showdown is generated more than Â£5m in trade to the various outlets surrounding the city centre venue in addition to the near Â£1m gate receipts. That fight was televised to an audience of 18 million views in the United States and went live to 180 countries around the world.
Porthcawl recently received a WRU facilities grant and funding from Natwest RugbyForce in order to give their changing rooms a facelift. This came after receiving £10,000 in a WRU facilities grant last year to tarmac their car park. The improvements have already helped to make the club more accessible, not only for their own members and players but for the whole community.
The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a new, accredited Safeguarding and Protecting Children course - funded by the WRU and delivered in partnership with Sport Wales and the NSPCC - fo rugby club volunteers around Wales.
The SWALEC semi-final draws threw up some mouth-watering clashes in the Cup, Plate and Bowl as the 12 teams aim for the Millennium Stadium Finals Day. All the semi-finals are to be played on the weekend of April 12.
Welsh whistler Rhys Thomas continues to scale the heights of the game as he prepares to be an official in this weekend's Hong Kong Sevens tournament, undoubtedly the showpiece event on the World Series calendar.
Wales International Ian Evans and Wales and Lions legend Scott Quinnell swapped rugby balls for paint pots at Tonna during the RBS 6 Nations. They surprised club players with a special clubhouse makeover to launch NatWest RugbyForce 2014 - a programme developed in partnership with the WRU to make rugby clubs stronger businesses by improving and renovating their facilities with the support of volunteers and the local community.
Fresh from claiming the Bowl honours in Tokyo last Sunday, the Wales Sevens squad have settled into their routine as they prepare for this weekend's Hong Kong tournament where Iolo Evans is aiming high, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
The Welsh Rugby Union has recently teamed up with Prostate Cymru to help the charity launch its latest campaign to raise awareness of the disease. Members of the Wales squad helped produce a short video and promotional material for the campaign titled 'The Best Defence - is to know the FACTS'.