On this day in 1999: Joe Calzaghe defends WBO title against Rick Thornberry

·1-min read

Joe Calzaghe retained his WBO super-middleweight title with a unanimous points verdict over Australia’s Rick Thornberry in Cardiff on this day in 1999.

Calzaghe still had plenty to prove when he stepped into the ring to face little-known Thornberry in the fourth defence of his title.

Boxing/WBO Super-mid 2
Joe Calzaghe put Rick Thornberry on the canvas in the second round (Huw Evans/PA)

The unbeaten Calzaghe had secured a contentious verdict over former WBC champion Robin Reid in his previous bout in Newcastle, and was banking on a conclusive finish against his latest opponent.

Thornberry was on the canvas in the second round but only briefly, and a cut on his right eyebrow never seriously worsened.

BOXING Calzaghe/arms raised
Calzaghe got the verdict (Huw Evans/PA)

Instead a hand injury negated Calzaghe’s power from the third round onwards, allowing Thornberry to survive to the final bell where the Welshman gained the verdict.

It was a difficult time in Calzaghe’s career, and questions would continue to be asked after another points win over David Starie in his next bout, as he struggled to gain the plaudits his skills deserved.

Arguably they did not arrive until his stunning win over highly-fancied American Jeff Lacy in 2006 – setting Calzaghe on his way to true boxing superstardom and ultimately retirement with his unbeaten record intact.

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