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"Since 1993, the Arms Park has been replaced by the Millennium Stadium and we can now guarantee a dry arena thanks to the closing roof.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.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.