Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard added his heavyweight support to the 35,000 fight fans who watched Joe Calzaghe defeat Peter Manfredo at the Millennium Stadium.

Leonard, describing Saturday’s event as ‘a great night of boxing’, was one of the 35,018 who made up Europe’s largest ever indoor boxing crowd and they witnessed Calzaghe extend his unbeaten run to 43 bouts with his successful defence of the WBO Super-middleweight title.

The Newbridge born fighter dispatched American contender Manfredo in three rounds in front of the largest indoor boxing crowd since Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks at the New Orleans Superdome in 1978.

The atmosphere in Cardiff rivalled that famous night with a choir of more than 35,000 belting out the Welsh national anthem with as much passion as a full capacity stadium for an international rugby match. Calzaghe was inspired in his twentieth title defence and was a proud man in the post fight press conference.

"I’m delighted with the win," he said. "There was a fantastic atmosphere and you have to really force yourself to focus when there are 35,000 people cheering you on in such a massive arena but once I’m in that ring I can’t see any of them, my mind is on the job and that’s what I focus on.

"It was great to be able to fight in front of my home crowd, especially as I didn’t get the chance to last year."

Boxing promoter Frank Warren was delighted by the evening’s entertainment and once again praised the Millennium Stadium as a boxing venue: "Fans of Joe’s got to see their champ on home turf! The atmosphere was second to none and the record crowd of 35,018 is very pleasing for everyone."

WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said, "This was a display of how the Millennium Stadium can be adapted for almost any event, and it demonstrated the incredible ‘wow’ factor the venue has for any spectator.

"The drape system enables us to stage smaller scale events such as these but tonight proved that even with only half the capacity in the stadium, a crowd of over 35,000 passionate fans can create an atmosphere that is reminiscent of a full stadium event.

"The design of the ring and seating area in the South stand created an intimate but breathtaking ambience, combined with world class boxing; tonight was a huge success for all involved.

"It was the perfect end to a spectacular day of top class boxing and what a stage to showcase the gladiator art."