Hatton and Calzaghe fight to top of Awards list

Joe Calzaghe or Ricky Hatton? It could be a split decision between Britain’s great boxing world champions when it comes to SJA members’ votes for the 2006 Sportsman of the Year awards

Lennox Lewis is the only boxer in the last 20 years to have won the Sportsman of the Year Award. But in 2006, with Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe, the noble art has two prime candidates for the prize, to be determined by the votes of SJA members and to be presented at a glitzy ceremony in London on December 13.

Hatton became that rarest of things, a boxer who had won world titles at two different weights, when he beat Luis Collazo in a thrilling welterweight contest last May. Hatton plans to drop back to the 140lb category to fight Juan Urango for the IBF junior welterweight belt on January 13.

Hatton’s last contest in the light-welter category was the memorable TKO defeat of Kostya Tszyu more than a year ago to launch the Manchester fighter on to the world stage as a major draw card. But following his WA title victory last Friday, Junior Witter, Britain’s other boxing world champ, offers a tempting big fight.

Undefeated in his nine-year professional career, 27-year-old Hatton, pictured above dishing out punishment in typical style, is in the midst of a promotional visit to America, covering the country from Atlanta to Las Vegas. On his itinerary is a visit to New York as a guest of honour at the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Calzaghe meanwhile still owns two versions of the super-middleweight world title, his 41 wins from 41 pro fights, 31 of them inside the distance, seeing the Welshman, like Hatton, ranked among the world’s top 10 pound-for-pound boxers by no less an authority than Ring Magazine.

Calzaghe won the IBF title with a massive unanimous points decision over pre-fight favourite Jeff Lacy, the American failing to win a single round in their bout last March. Calzaghe is scheduled to defend his super-middleweight titles against Sakio Bika in Manchester on October 14.

You can vote for Calzaghe or Hatton as the Sportsman of the Year by clicking here. Of course, under our voting system, in which you choose your top three sportsmen of the year in order, you may even cast votes for both men.

Click here to review some of the other candidates for the Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year awards.

And click here to fill in a membership form and put yourself forward to join the SJA.