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01 JUNE 2016


Enzo's boys set to shine in Cardiff

Proud father Enzo parades Joe around on his shoulders after a recent title defence.
Proud father Enzo parades Joe around on his shoulders after a recent title defence.

By Clive Bernath: WBO/IBF champion Joe Calzaghe may not be headlining the biggest fight night in Welsh boxing history at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on July 8 but his father and trainer Enzo will still be kept busy on the night taking care of his talented stable of established boxers and upcoming prospects.

To the casual boxing fan Enzo is seen as the trainer who has masterminded the ring success of his undefeated son Joe, the world's No.1 super-middleweight. And of course that is true but as I found out when I visited his gym in Newbridge, 15 miles outside of Cardiff recently, he is also nurturing some fine young talent and with the recent addition of WBU cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli, one could argue Calzaghe Snr has the finest stable of fighters in the UK.

When I called Enzo to make arrangements to come to his gym and do some filming for he was very accommodating but said 'come up by all means but you'll have to take us as you find us'

I had met Enzo briefly on a couple of occasions but this was the first time I'd spent some time in his company and my first visit to his gym. I arrived with my camerman at about 11.30am as agreed on a gloriously hot Monday morning. The gym door was open and as we walked through I shouted to Enzo to see if he was there. 'A voice in the distance replied 'I wouldn't come any further if I was you'. Too late we had already turned the corner and saw Enzo sweeping out the entrance to the gym. 'Whats up' I replied, to which Enzo countered: 'It's a bit smelly around here at the moment', implying he had just passed some very bad wind and that the quality of air in his vicinity was not very good at the moment. Anyway, that's Enzo Calzaghe for you. What you see is what you get.

It was a somewhat surreal start to the day but Enzo and the rest of the lads made us feel very welcome. One by one the boxers started to arrive for a 12pm start. Young middleweight Nathan Cleverley was first through the door with his father. I had read some good things about the 19 year-old, who has won all five of his starts so far but I had never set eyes on him. Nathan stands well over 6ft tall and I questioned how he could ever make 11st 6lbs. But he does and judging by watching him spar later that day, looked strong at the weight. I mentioned to Nathan's father that his son looks like a natural athlete and seems to have a good engine (no stamina problems). I was dually informed that my observation was correct as the young lanky kid from Blackwood is a former Welsh cross country and athletics champion.

Another young unbeaten middleweight who trains out of Calzaghe Snr's Newbridge gym is Kerry Hope from Merthyr Tydfil. Kerry's currently 6-0 and is also coming along nicely. Incidentally, Kerry makes a grand cup of tea.

Next to arrive was unbeaten lightweight Gavin Rees and Commonwealth light-middleweight champion Bradley Pryce. Rees faces Martin Watson for the Celtic lightweight title on July 8. Pryce is also on the card defending his Commonwealth title but no opponent has yet been confirmed for him. Gavin is unbeaten in 23 starts and has been a pro for eight years. I was dying to interview him about his lack of progression and inactivity but both he and Pryce were immediately packed off to Cardiff for a check weigh-in at the British Boxing Board of Control's offices in the Town Centre.

Shortly after Bradley and Gavin disappeared big punching middleweight Gary Lockett arrived for his first day of sparring in preparation for his WBU middleweight title defence against Sheffield's Ryan Rhodes. The 29 year-old sparred eight rounds straight off with Cleverley and Hope and looked pretty sharp for his first spar.

As I mentioned earlier, with Calzaghe Snr what you see is what you get, and when he speaks everyone listens. There is no doubt Enzo knows his boxing, you only have to watch the Italian born trainer put Lockett through his paces on the pads to work that out.

It was indeed a very enjoyable day at the Calzaghe run gym on the site adjacent to the Abercarn RFC. Enzo was good value and a real character, and he knows how to get the best out of his boxers.

The July 8 live ITV1 televised card from the Millennium Stadium may be headlined by the British heavyweight title rematch between bitter rivals Danny Williams and Matt Skelton, and hot lightweight prospect Amir Khan but the Welsh boys are ready to impress and looking to steal the show on the most famous boxing extravaganza ever seen in Wales.

Editors note
Enzo and some of the boys at the gym have recorded a single about the England football team called England oh England .I think the song is pretty good myself and has a real catchy tune. But don't take my word for it, you can listen to it yourself by subscribing to and clicking onto the archive section.

To listen to Enzo's England song as well as interviews with Gary Lockett, Nathan Cleverley and Kerry Hope about their upcoming bouts on July 8 log onto Click here - subscription required

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