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Calzaghe Makes 19th Successful Title Defense

MANCHESTER, England — Joe Calzaghe survived a cut in the fourth round Saturday night to capture a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika and keep his IBF and WBO super middleweight titles.

The victory extended Calzaghe`s unbeaten record to 42-0 with his 19th successful defense of his WBO title, which he has held for nine years, and the first defense of the IBF crown he took from Jeff Lacy in March.

MANCHESTER, England — Joe Calzaghe survived a cut in the fourth round Saturday night to capture a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika and keep his IBF and WBO super middleweight titles.

The victory extended Calzaghe`s unbeaten record to 42-0 with his 19th successful defense of his WBO title, which he has held for nine years, and the first defense of the IBF crown he took from Jeff Lacy in March.

The Welshman, who was impressive against Lacy, was ragged against Bika (20-2-2) and had blood streaming from above his left eye at the end of the fourth round after a clash of heads. Bika, a Cameroonian based in Australia, also had a point taken away for his use of the head in round five and was warned twice more for similar tactics by referee Mickey Vann.

British judge Phil Edwards scored the fight 116-111, while American official John Lawson and Puerto Rica`s Jose Rivera each had it 117-110.

“I`m disappointed with the performance,” said the champion, who hoped to put on a show for a U.S. audience watching on HBO. “I wanted to put on a spectacle, but he was a dirty fighter and I got caught a lot with the head. I wasn`t 100 percent tonight, and it showed.”

Calzaghe is hoping to unify the super middleweight titles and set up a contest with Denmark`s Mikkel Kessler (38-0, 29 KOs), who knocked out Germany`s Markus Beyer (34-3-1) in the third round Saturday to add the WBC title to his WBA crown.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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