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Calzaghe vs. Hagler: Fantasy Match

Image: Calzaghe vs. Hagler: Fantasy Match

By Adam Foy: Articles such as this one tend to be no more than incredibly self-indulgent, opinionated twaddle, and this will be no different, so the most I can hope for is that it sparks some debate and that I don’t get too blasted in the comments.

Also, Calzaghe Vs. Hagler probably seems like a very strange choice for a fantasy fight, and I’ll agree that it does verge on being an almost unnatural matchup. Hagler is a bona fide, worldwide legend of the sport that spent his entire career at middleweight, whereas Calzaghe was a super-middleweight whose credentials are often questioned.

However, if styles do indeed make fights, this would be a fascinating clash.

Now, as this is happening in my head and not yours, and as God knows, I need to justify the next few paragraphs of drivel somehow, this fight will take place at Super-middleweight and over twelve rounds.

To be fair … to me … Calzaghe would struggle to come down in weight, but I don’t think it’s insane to imagine that if he were a modern fighter, Hagler would’ve taken that step-up and taken it well, so for our purposes, we’re going to assume that he has the same punch resistance and carries the same punching power as he did at middleweight.

CAREERS –

Aesthetically, these couldn’t be two different fighters and that definitely leaked into their early perceptions.

Calzaghe, whilst seen as worryingly unorthodox, was viewed as a potential talent, even as a relatively young fighter, and though his progress would be slow and steady, he would always be seen by the British press as a fairly sure-fire bet for a world title.

Hagler, on the other hand, had two losses on his record by the age of twenty-three, and his brand was worth so little at one point that press, commentators, and ring announcers alike, all refused to address him by his chosen moniker, ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Hagler. In the end, he changed his name by deed poll, forcing his detractors to submit with a bloody-mindedness that would encapsulate his career from that moment on.

Image: Calzaghe vs. Hagler: Fantasy Match

Both fighters would mature well and find most of their success later in their careers, but it also must be said when comparing these two men that Hagler kept infinitely better company, beating fighters such as Duran, Hearns, and Mugabe in an incredible era of middleweight boxers, and though Calzaghe’s victories against Kessler, Lacey, and Hopkins are certainly not to be dismissed, they are not quite on the same extraordinary level as the 80’s collection.

PHYSICALITY –

With the setup being as loaded as it is, you would expect Calzaghe to have most of the physical advantages, and he is definitely the bigger, stronger man, yet Hagler still has the better reach by two inches, not to mention an incredibly vicious streak that can turn any contest.

THE FIGHT –

ROUNDS 1 – 3 …

Both fighters come forward aggressively in their southpaw stances and try to take the middle ground, but Calzaghe has the speed to land quickly, change the angle and get out before Hagler can respond, and though this doesn’t hurt the Marvellous one or even force him to take a step back, it does stop him coming forward with the momentum he’d like and it keeps him off balance, which provides a stationary target for Joe to land point scoring shots with both hands.

In the second and third rounds, Hagler’s defenses improve, and he begins to time his head movement, making it a slightly messier match. However, he is only landing to the chest and shoulders, and Calzaghe still seems to be in control of the space with his manic footwork and constant punch output.

ROUNDS 4-6 …

The more astute observers are beginning to notice the bruises as they start to mottle on Calzaghe’s body and chest, and he is forced to work harder and harder, yet he is still landing punches, and the judges would be forgiven for having the Welshman way ahead at this point.

Image: Calzaghe vs. Hagler: Fantasy Match

Joe continues the 5th and 6th round in much the same style. It is the same style that has brought him much success over the years, keeping his opponents occupied with a square-shouldered, blistering, two-handed attack while reverting to a side-on situation as the first line of defense.

This is a tactic that has allowed him to stay in a good position and counter his victims for almost a decade, but Hagler is starting to find his rhythm, and late in the 6th round, he forces Calzaghe to dip back from an overhand left before skipping on to a straight right that catches him flush, leaving him exposed to a heavy punch that ends the round.

Calzaghe is visibly shaken by this and goes back to his corner on unsteady legs.

ROUNDS 7-9 …

Round seven starts with a monstrous effort from Hagler, who swings for the hills with many of his punches. Calzaghe, knowing only one form of defense, uses this as an opportunity to make Marvin miss and establish his own attack.

The ensuing war seems to be as even as they come, though it’s obvious that Calzaghe has less room at his back and that Hagler is slowly beginning to squeeze the space.

Calzaghe tries to square up his opponent and land a left, but Hagler smothers him and lands three solid shots to the temple, sending him stumbling to the ground.

Using his experience, he stands on six and takes an eight-count, leaving him only seconds to survive in the round, which he does by leaning into Hagler until the bell.

Despite his condition, Calzaghe starts the ninth round on the front foot, and not just in terms of dominating the space by landing pitter-patter, slap-happy nonsense. He’s really sitting on his shots now, and any normal human being might start to slow down in the face of such speed and aggression, yet ‘Marvellous’ Marvin is a once in a century warrior and he won’t stop coming forward with hard, effective punches that are consistently catching Joe in a terrible position and sending him off balance.

Twenty seconds before the end of the 9th round, Calzaghe hits the floor whilst trying to escape a wild left hook which glances off his temple and leaves him open to a square right hook on the jaw.

After another eight-count, Calzaghe somehow regains his feet and makes his way back to his corner at the end of the round, but he’s clearly done, and his trainer/father makes the only decision available to him, he throws in the towel and saves his fighter, he saves his son from three more rounds of unnecessary punishment, ending the night with Marvin Hagler as the unsurprising victor.

*NOTE –
I genuinely enjoy reviewing these kinds of fights, especially when the outcome seems obvious, but the real fight, or at least the fight in my brain, would have to be hard-won.

In truth, I’ve written both Ali vs. Fury and Calzaghe vs. Hagler off the top of my head, as I know all the fighters involved pretty well. However, if you want to start suggesting Fantasy Matches, then I would be happy to fully research the fighters and come up with (what I hope is) a solid, considered opinion on the outcome.

Thanks for reading.




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