Should Calzaghe Skip Hopkins And Fight Jones vs. Trinidad Winner?
As super middleweight Joe Calzaghe (44-0, 32 KOs) appears locked into a fight with former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, I can’t help think that the 35 year-old Calzaghe will be better off canceling the bout with Hopkins and instead focus on fighting the winner of this Saturday’s bout between Felix Trinidad vs. Roy Jones Jr. The reasons are simple: Both Trinidad and Jones were much more popular than Hopkins was during their prime, and even though they’re both well past that stage now, they still remain very popular with large fan bases behind both of them.
Even more important, is that after Saturday’s bout, if it turns out to be an interesting fight, the winner will be even more in the forefront of the media, and will be able to pick and choose their next opponent. In contrast, if Calzahge he faces the 43- year-old Hopkins, the fight will almost surely be a boring, grappling-type fight in which Hopkins grabs and wrestles Calzaghe constantly to prevent him from drilling him with his fast hands. It will be the type of fight where Calzaghe will lose popularity because he’ll look bad against Hopkins, who turn the fight into a long stalling pattern, and stink up the joint in the process.
Calzaghe will win, no doubt about it, but it won’t be impressive, nor will it be the type of victory that will enable him to sign on for another mega-fight because of his disappointing fight against Hopkins. I don’t see any up side at all to his bout with Hopkins, as it is a bout that would have been boring to watch even when Hopkins was in his prime. Though Hopkins has been winning as of late, with victories over Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright, the fights were incredibly boring to watch, filled with a lot of wrestling on the part of Hopkins. It seems that now that he’d gotten old, and lost whatever speed he ever have, Hopkins has adopted the punch & grab style made famous by heavyweight John Ruiz.
It’s style that suits fighters without much handspeed or power, giving them a method to compete against the younger, faster, harder-punching fighters that they normally wouldn’t be able to compete with. To be sure, it’s hard to beat a fighter that throws one punch and then grabs use because you have to move quickly to prevent being grabbed, and have only a fraction of a second to get your own punches off before they grab you. Once in close, wrestling type fighters like Hopkins, are experts and holding and hitting, and other inside fighting techniques. It’s boxing, true, but it sure isn’t interesting to watch. Even more important, it’s a style that Calzaghe isn’t good at, as he showed in his fight against Sakio Bika in October 2006.
Calzaghe ended up winning the fight, but it was hard fight for him, and very ugly to watch due to the rabbit punches, headbutts, and wrestling done by Bika on the inside. Clearly, Hopkins has seen the fight, and probably feels confident that he can do even better than Bika with the rough house inside fighting stuff. It’s not something that will make Calzaghe look, as he won’t be able to use his speed and will look very average even in winning. However, against someone like Jones or Trinidad, Calzaghe would be able to use his speed, as neither of them like to fight in close.
Both of them prefer to stay at a comfortable distance, throwing shots and setting traps for their opponent. Calzaghe would like get just as much money for facing either of them, but without having the headache of looking bad in the process of winning. If I was Calzaghe, I would immediately cancel my bout with Hopkins, telling him, “no thanks,” and I’d move on to what would ultimately be a more exciting bout with either Jones or Trinidad.