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Calzaghe Beats Salem, Defending Title

October 22, 2004

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) _ Joe Calzaghe successfully defended his WBO super-middleweight title for the 15th time, recovering from a fourth-round knockdown Friday night to win a unanimous decision over Egypt’s Kabary Salem.

Calzaghe (38-0) set a British record for consecutive world title defenses, moving ahead of Lennox Lewis, Naseem Hamed, Ricky Hatton and Chris Eubank.

Despite the knockdown, the 32-year-old Welshman dominated a scrappy, ugly fight before 7,000 fans at the Royal Highland Showground, the first world title contest in the Scottish capital.

The judges scored it 117-109, 118-107 and 116-109.

Salem, 36, based in New York, fell to 23-4.

``I’m disappointed with my performance,″ Calzaghe said. ``He was awkward. He succeeded in making me look bad. I know I have to get better than that.″

Fighting for the first time in eight months, Calzaghe controlled the opening three rounds before he dropped his guard and Salem floored him with a straight right hand to the chin. It was only the second time in Calzaghe’s career that he had been knocked down.

Calzaghe was tentative in the next round, but stepped up the pace in the sixth and was in command the rest of the way. He was credited with a knockdown in the 12th round when, in a delayed reaction to a straight right, Salem went down briefly on one knee.

Calzaghe has held the title since 1997, the longest world title reign by any British fighter. This was his first fight since knocking out Armenian Mger Mkrtchian in February.

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