Calzaghe retires with 46-0 record

For months, light heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe has been saying he would probably retire.

On Thursday, he did.

Perhaps the greatest fighter in Welsh history, Calzaghe, a two-division world champion and one of the best fighters pound-for-pound in the world, announced his retirement from boxing, saying he had nothing left to accomplish.

"It was a difficult decision but I have achieved everything I wanted to achieve in boxing. I've been world champion for 11 years. I've got no other goals to go for. That's why I am calling it a day," Calzaghe, 36, told BBC. "I had a long think with my family. My children wanted me to give up, plus my mum. That's why I called it a day and will go on to do something else. My decision is to retire. I've been boxing for 25 years and, like I said, I've achieved everything I want to achieve."

Calzaghe is walking away as one of the rare fighters in history to retire undefeated. At 46-0 with 32 knockouts, Calzaghe dominated the 168-pound super middleweight division. He won a vacant belt by outpointing former champion Chris Eubank on Oct. 11, 1997, and made 21 title defenses during an 11-year reign until moving up to light heavyweight, where he outpointed Bernard Hopkins to win the title in April in his first fight in the United States.

Calzaghe, trained for his entire career by his father, Enzo Calzaghe, made one defense of the 175-pound crown, easily outpointing the faded Roy Jones Jr. on Nov. 8 at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Throughout the promotion of the fight with Jones, Calzaghe talked about retiring after the fight. Now that he's done it, Calzaghe said he thought his retirement would be permanent.

"You can never say never in this game, but I can't see myself boxing again," he told BBC. "There's loads of things I want to do. I'm proud to be one of only a few fighters in history to retire undefeated."

As Calzaghe racked up super middleweight defense after defense, he still hadn't received much acclaim outside of the United Kingdom, where Frank Warren, his former promoter, helped build him into a star. However, in March 2006, Calzaghe faced heralded American Jeff Lacy in a unification fight in Manchester, England. Lacy was the favorite, but Calzaghe took him apart, punishing Lacy throughout the fight, scoring a 12th-round knockdown and winning a landslide decision to gain worldwide acclaim.

In November 2007, Calzaghe scored another important victory as he soundly outpointed Denmark's Mikkel Kessler to further unify the division in front of partisan crowd of 50,150 at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

It was Calzaghe's final fight in his home country.

After the decisive victory against Kessler, and having cleaned out the super middleweight division, Calzaghe stepped up to light heavyweight, where despite getting knocked down in the opening round, he narrowly outpointed Hopkins in Las Vegas to win the title.

That set the stage for his bout against former champion Jones, who also dropped Calzaghe in the first round. But that was Jones' biggest moment. Calzaghe dominated the rest of the fight, as he had done against most opponents in his career.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.