Jones-Calzaghe Fight Report

November 10, 2008

Saturday night provided some interesting fights for fans. The undercard featured a convincing win for Zab Judah, a mediocre victory by prospect Dmitriy Salita, and a robbery loss for the always entertaining Drunken Master of Boxing, Emanuel Augustus.

In the main event, the Roy Jones-Joe Calzaghe matchup proved one thing to boxing fans – Roy Jones is over the hill. As for Joe Calzaghe’s legacy, his win over Jones did nothing to change the stereotype that he is merely a good, but protected European fighter.

In the first round, Jones’ looked like the quicker man. He decked Calzaghe with a two-punch combination that Calzaghe later admitted he did not see. However, Jones failed to follow-up that knockdown with any barrage, and Calzaghe was able to weather the storm.

Round 2 was more even. Jones still appeared to have a slight speed edge, but toward the end of the round, he increasingly fought with his back against the ropes.

That effectively was the end of Jones’ night. In round 3, Calzaghe got in a rhythm and stayed in that rhythm throughout the fight. He was loose, relaxed, and confident, as he frequently dropped his hands to his sides and showboated. For the remainder of the fight, he peppered Jones with a high volume of accurate punches. Unlike in Calzaghe’s fight with Bernard Hopkins, these punches did not appear to be useless slaps on the arms and gloves. His shots cut and bloodied Jones, and his body attack noticeably slowed the older Jones. From the third round onward, Calzaghe was the quicker man.

Give Jones credit for playing to win. He tried to walk Calzaghe down, covering up ala Winky Wright. However, whenever he got close he could not let his hands go. Jones occasionally pot-shotted Calzaghe with right hand leads, but the punch volume was not enough. Perhaps because of limited visibility from his cut eye, Jones often missed his target. Defensively, his reactions slowed in the latter rounds, and he was hit clean when he dropped his hands. This was a clear-cut loss for Jones.

Nevertheless, Antonio Tarver and Glencoffe Johnson also can claim such a clear-cut victory over Jones. In fact, they can say that they handily defeated a younger Jones in a more impressive manner than Calzaghe. So how do we really assess what Calzaghe did Saturday night? In order to answer that question, we must first look at his opponent.

Jones’ claim of earlier struggles due to the loss of 20 pounds of muscle now appear unfounded. In retrospect, those losses years ago to Tarver and Johnson now seem to verify that Roy Jones had slipped long ago. In the Tarver trilogy he got caught with punches he used to avoid, and nothing has changed since then. His victory this year over Tito Trinidad only reveals just how truly pathetic Tito has become, rather than bolstering Jones’ status. His legacy, up to the Ruiz fight, should remain intact as the best fighter of his era bar none.

Meanwhile, Calzaghe proved nothing in taking this fight. He gets credit for showing he is an extremely well-conditioned fighter, based on his punch output alone. He also demonstrated handspeed and boxing skills. Still, the ultimate question remains, why was he not trying to make this fight 6 years ago?

The 2002 version of Roy Jones likely pounces on Calzaghe after knocking him down in the first round. There would be no attempt by Jones to conserve energy. For that matter, doesn’t a younger Bernard Hopkins also fight Calzaghe more aggressively after scoring a first round knockdown? In other words, fight fans have been cheated to a degree by not seeing these matchups while the fighters were on equal footing. And if there is one person to blame for this failure to make the fights happen earlier, it is Calzaghe, who has chosen to fight in Europe for all but TWO of his fights. His safe, calculated decision to wait until the best fighters grew old cannot be emphasized enough.

Calzaghe’s legacy is difficult to assess. Yes, he is undefeated. Yes, he is very good. But based on his thin resume he cannot be deemed an all-time great. Ironically, he cannot be placed above either a Roy Jones or a Hopkins because of the inherent asterisks in his record. For too long he was shielded and protected, and that simply cannot be overlooked.

So what can Joe do to achieve true recognition as an all-time great? First, he should stop talking about his record. His wins over Eubank and overrated Jeff Lacy mean nothing. Same for his win over a noticeably slower and older Jones. He does get credit for beating Kessler. But, his “win” over Hopkins – a fight in which he was effectively countered with right hand leads throughout – was razor-close, and left many questions unanswered.

Second, he needs to fight one to two more significant fights. A rematch with Hopkins in Wales should be one of those fights. Hopkins made Calzaghe look foolish at times, and pledged after his fight with Kelly Pavlik to be more offensive-minded. If B-Hop’s claim is true, then the rematch would be worth watching.

The other obvious opponent is Chad Dawson. This guy has all the tools, and has beaten both Tarver and Johnson. He has the resume, just not the name. Because he lacks name recognition, and because he is a true threat, Calzaghe will likely duck him. Realistically, there is one way this fight happens. Dawson would have to first become a household name by beating Bernard Hopkins.

Until these fights occur, Calzaghe should never be able to objectively claim all-time great status. All-time greats are great because they take true risks.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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