|Belfast's Brian Magee gets the fight of his dreams on Friday night when he meets WBO super middleweight kingpin Joe Calzaghe on Sport's Network's big Northern Ireland card from the King's Hall in Magee's hometown. This will the twenty-eight year-old southpaw's second truly big fight, as he came|
up short against former WBC titlist Robin Reid last year, losing his long held IBO crown in the process. While Magee has no shortage of skill, heart and power, there are a few other factors involved that may give him much more of a chance to win this much anticipated contest then he has generally been given by the British media.
Make no mistake; this is truly the most dangerous fight in Joe Calzaghe's career. As the Cardiff area Welshman looks forward to hoped-for high-profile bouts against the likes of IBF titlist Jeff Lacy or even a move up to light heavyweight to face the titlists there, the possibility of his overlooking Magee certainly exists. In fact, the WBO champion's next match has already been determined, a trip to Germany to face Mario Veit, a lanky puncher who Joe already knocked out in one brutal round four years ago. Given Germany's reputation for producing somewhat dodgy decisions (to be fair, the same could be said for most countries and visiting foreign fighters know they must knock out the hometown hero to ensure a victory) one couldn't blame the Calzaghe camp if they were a bit preoccupied with that excursion.
There is also the issue of weight. The Welshman has been a super middleweight his entire professional career and it's no secret that he seeks to move up a division where he may better utilize his true strength without having to make the energy sapping 168-pound restriction. Magee is one of Europe's top super middleweights, no question, but against Calzaghe, he'll be in with one of the game's best boxers who also packs a good punch. The Belfast native found himself outclassed against Reid last year and will have to raise his game if he is to trouble Calzaghe, who despite the distractions and weight problems is a class above.
It certainly is in the realm of possibility that Magee could pull off a huge upset on Friday night. As his sixteen stoppages in twenty-four bouts attest, he can punch, and not just a little. Experienced hard men such as Hassine Cherifi, Andre Thysse, Mpush Makembi and most recently, English journeyman light heavyweight Neil Linford have all fallen to the power of the Northern Irish former IBO belt-holder, and if Magee can bide his time until later in the fight before launching an assault, who knows if Calzaghe won't be caught?
Boxing captures the imagination of so many fans because it is in a word unpredictable, at times wildly so and many in the stands at the King's Hall will be putting their hopes into that aspect of the sport to which both Brian Magee and Joe Calzaghe have devoted their lives.
Richard Eberline can be reached at email@example.com