I fought Joe Calzaghe and he told me I’d be a world champion… now I’m working as a firefighter

AFTER former British super middleweight champion David Starie challenged Joe Calzaghe for the WBO title in 2000, he was told he would be a future world champion.

However, Starie’s career did not follow that script and he soon found himself working as a full-time firefighter.

Starie, now 49, entered the world stage against Calzaghe in 2000, but only three years later he would hang up his gloves.

The fight was the chief support for Mike Tyson‘s heavyweight bout against Julius Francis in Manchester.

But the undercard fight – Calzaghe’s fifth WBO super middleweight title defence – was underwhelming as the ex-two weight champion won on a unanimous points victory.

Calzaghe blasted Starie on Sky Sports after the fight, saying: “This guy didn’t want to fight, he just came to hold and survive.”

This is contrary to what Starie says Calzaghe told him following the fight, admitting the criticism of his performance was “disappointing” to hear.

Though Starie remains adamant his strategy was right on the night, less he go aggressive and get knocked out.

Speaking to Boxing News in 2021, Starie said: “Calzaghe came up to me at the end of the fight and he said, ‘You’ve got power, you’re awkward and you’re going to be a world champion,’ but a few days later he slated me in the press.

“I have never got into the ring and not tried to win. I’m aware it was a stinker of a fight – but I did what I thought was right.

“If I had fought aggressively I would have been knocked out. Calzaghe is the best fighter this country has produced but he felt my power and that’s why he didn’t walk through me.

“He had a lot to lose that night because it was his first fight on American TV and if he could have got rid of me that night he would have.”

Starie would win his next six fights before pencilling in a date for the WBC interim title three years later.

However, when Markus Beyer was forced to pull out at the last minute through injury, Starie then entered the ring to defend his Commonwealth title against Andre Thysse.

Starie would go on to lose his belt on a points decision in the June 2003 bout, despite having a “perfect” training camp in the build-up.

The aftermath would see Starie head to the hospital when back in England with a suspected bleed on the brain.

Starie said: “I never experienced pain like it in my life. I thought I was going to die, it was like someone was shoving knives into my head.”

Fortunately the pain was attributed to an infection.

Throughout his boxing career Starie had kept up a part-time gig as a firefighter, revealing he had put out a caravan fire at 4am immediately after a British title fight.

Starie would eventually go into the profession full-time after hanging up his gloves later in 2003.

His final fight came against undefeated WBA and IBF champion Sven Ottke in June.

Starie said: “I had already accepted a full-time post with the fire service. It wasn’t about the money it was about the title. It didn’t happen though, I came home and that was it.”

Reflecting on his career, he admitted a world title was the one thing he was missing.

He added: “When I look back on my boxing career I imagine it was a house that I had built from the foundations up since I was 11 years old.

“Every fight was a brick in that house and I only had one brick to add, my world title, everything else I was happy with, but I had to walk away without putting that brick in.

“It was a difficult but I knew it was time to walk away.”

As well as his job as a firefighter, Starie also has a role as a Fire Liaison Officer at West Suffolk College.

He has flirted with the idea of a comeback but it did not materialise.

I fought Joe Calzaghe and he told me I’d be a world champion… now I’m working as a firefighter | The Sun

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