Is Calzaghe Cheating Boxing Fans?
By Scott Gilfoid: In the past year, Joe Calzaghe has been in fights where his dominance, as well as unbeaten record, has been in serious doubt. For example, in his last two fights, Calzaghe has been taken to the limit and has barely scraped by with victories over Mikkel Kessler and Bernard Hopkins. Both fighters were a huge leap upward in competition for the 36 year-old Calzaghe, who has faced much softer opponents for most of his 11-year reign as the WBO super middleweight champion. His lack of what many boxing fans as worthy opponents during his career has made him seem more like a good regional fighter rather than an international champion in the super middleweight division.
It’s unfortunate that now that Calzaghe has finally started to break out and fight better fighters from the U.S and around the world, he’s saying that this will be his last fight. That, I feel, is leaving Calzaghe with an incomplete legacy considering that he’s still not really proven himself as being the better fighter than Hopkins, whom he beat by a questionable 12-round split decision in April. Calzaghe points to the fact that he beat Hopkins, and therefore doesn’t need to prove it again by giving him a rematch. The downside of the matter is that many people, including this writer, feel that Hopkins won the fight by at least a round or two, and was given a bad deal.
Even if Calzaghe doesn’t want a rematch with Hopkins, he has plenty of other opponents left out there who appear to be much more worthy than Roy Jones Jr., who Calzaghe faces this Saturday in a fight that appears to have little meaning given Jones’ faded ability and the lack of a title being on the line. Jones would have been a decent opponent for an exhibition bout, but not now that he’s a mere shadow of his once great self.
Many experts feel that Jones would have given Calzaghe a boxing lesson if this fight had taken place years ago, since his skills then appeared to be much superior to Calzaghe’s. By choosing to fight him now, it seems to some people that Calzaghe is doing it to take advantage of him now that he’s in his old age and can no longer fight in his top form. Calzaghe would have been much better served if he had looked elsewhere for an opponent. Lucian Bute, a rematch with Kessler, Jean Pascal, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Kelly Pavlik, Denis Inkin, or Librado Andrade, all would have been better opponents than Jones in my mind.
Of course, none of them are as popular as Jones is, but I’d venture to guess without exception that all of them would be a huge challenge for Calzaghe, and hence a much better option for him if he was concerned with entertaining fans and improving his so-called legacy. Saying that a fight against Jones, now 39, is the perfect way of ending his career seems almost laughable when you think about.
I don’t know if Calzaghe believes that or now, but if he does, he really seems to be out of touch with the general mainstream consensus for boxing fans, who see this fight as not worthy of him. Calzaghe has said that he’s worried about getting out of the sport with his looks intact, something that has probably occurred to him after being forced to eat a lot of hard punches in his last two fights against Kessler and Hopkins.
However, that’s the nature of the sport, and he likely would have taken many more hits if he had fought against quality opponents like them his entire career instead of softer ones like Mario Veit and Branko Sobot, to name just a couple of his title defenses during his career.
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