Calzaghe furious as fight bites the dust

JOE CALZAGHE has been forced out of tomorrow night’s WBO super-middleweight title defence against Brian Magee in Belfast – because of an impending rematch against a man he has already beaten inside one round.

Calzaghe's promoter Frank Warren withdrew the Welshman from tonight's contest because of complications concerning his enforced mandatory defence against Mario Veit in Germany on May 7.

The finalised date for that contest meant the Magee clash fell within the 60-day period during which voluntary WBO title defences are not permitted without the agreement of all parties.

Under late pressure from German broadcasters ZDF, the WBO decided not to sanction tonight's fight and existing contractual obligations made it impossible for Calzaghe to continue in a non-title contest.

Calzaghe, who blew away Veit in just 112 seconds in their meeting in Cardiff in April 2001, vowed to take his frustration out on the German in their rematch in Hamburg.

Calzaghe said: "I'm just gutted at the moment. I'm very frustrated I'm in my best shape for years and maybe ever. I've got to have a week off, so as not get stale, and get back in training and make sure I make him pay by going out there and destroying him which I will do.

"The problem is the Germans and Mario Veit. They're paying me for the pleasure of going out there to destroy him. And believe me after messing me about I will go there and be in the best shape ever and destroy him," Calzaghe said.

Warren was already fuming at the WBO's insistence on sanctioning a return match against Veit for which the German promoters Universum made a massive winning purse offer two weeks' ago. But he believed he had secured the agreement of Universum boss Klaus-Peter Kohl to press ahead with the Magee title fight even though it fell within the 60-day limit.

However, Kohl's hand was forced last night by ZDF who were apparently concerned that their investment would be in doubt if Calzaghe were to lose his WBO title to the Ulsterman.

Warren said: "I am bitterly disappointed for Joe, Brian and the public who were looking forward to this fight.

"As Joe has reigned as world champion for nearly eight years with 15 title defences, it is a sad situation that he has not been able to take part in this fight."

Universum said they were surprised by news of the fight's cancellation and insisted the final decision had nothing to do with them.

They maintain they would have been happy for a non-title fight to go ahead but are relieved Calzaghe has elected not to put the Veit fight in doubt.

Veit, who has won 15 straight fights since his early loss to Calzaghe, said: "It looks like Joe will have to pay Germany a visit. Clearly he couldn't avoid the rematch against me forever.

"I earned the right to challenge him one more time. I can't stay interim champion for years."

The news is the latest blow for Calzaghe, who had hoped to get his career back on track after a frustrating period which raised questions over his ability to continue at the highest level.

He was knocked down in his last fight against Egyptian Kabary Salem in Glasgow in October before winning unimpressively on points.

And, as well as going through messy divorce proceedings, Calzaghe subsequently withdrew from a projected February 11 title defence citing the need for more time to prepare.

Magee's trainer Pat Magee said that his fighter was devastated by the news despite the promise that he will get another crack at the champion if and when he has disposed of Veit.

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