Folks, I’m not going to lie, I have VERY little interest in this Saturday night’s PPV battle between Joe Calzaghe and Roy Jones Jr. In fact I can think of roughly 300 things I would rather spend my hard earned $50 on. One such attractive alternative would be to pay a homeless man to rip my back hair out with duct tape. So to reiterate, I am not a fan of this fight, just in case I had not made that clear.
It’s nothing personal. Individually I respect Calzaghe and Jones, both are fighters with Hall of Fame careers and a level of stature in the sport, but to see them fight each other now holds little interest to me. This is a fight that would have been interesting maybe 10 years ago, back when Jones was the hottest thing on the planet and Calzaghe was building his fan base as the newly crowned WBO super middleweight title holder. But today, these two fighters are on two totally different levels.
Jones, at 39, is a solid shell of his former awe inspiring self. After being brutally KO’d by Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson in back to back fights, Jones has been on a tour of mediocrity, dropping a decision to Tarver, then rebounding with victories over Prince Badi Ajamu, Anthony Hanshaw, and a severely faded Felix Trinidad. Jones maintains the assertion that his latest fights were designed to get him in the proper mindset to tackle a fighter of Calzaghe’s ilk. If anything, in his last fight with Trinidad, a successfully lucrative promotion, a result of each fighter’s rabid fan base more so than the importance of the fight, Jones proved that he was still a ticket seller.
After feasting on out-matched opponents and building a huge following of loyal supporters in his native Wales, Calzaghe had a breakout year 2006. It was then that Calzaghe put forth a virtuoso beat down of highly touted Jeff Lacy, unifying the WBO and IBF super middleweight titles and exploding into the consciousness of American fight fans that dismissed his as nothing more than a protected European title holder. Lackluster performances in high profile fights featuring Sakio Bika (pre-Contender fame) and Peter Manfredo (post-Contender fame), left many here in America scratching our heads and asking what happened to the Calzaghe we saw dismantle Lacy. Since then, Calzaghe has gone on an impressive run, beating Mikkel Kessler to capture the undisputed super middleweight title before jumping 7 pounds north to capture the undisputed light heavyweight title in a visually grating split decision victory against Bernard Hopkins.
All of which brings us to Saturday nights promotion in Madison Square Garden. Though billed as “Battle of the Superpowers” all reports indicate that ticket sales are abysmal. Steve Kim over at Maxboxing wrote a great piece on the state of boxing and the global economic woes. The promotion seems to be suffering greatly from a decrease in people’s disposable incomes not to mention the fact that this fight offers little to all but the most diehard Jones and Calzaghe fan. You couple that with an undercard that can be kindly described as “unwatchable”, and well friends, things don’t look good for this promotion in terms of live spectators and PPV buys.
Apathy, thy name is Calzaghe-Jones
Prediction: I’m picking Calzaghe by unanimous decision. Contrary to what HBO’s ’24/7′ will have you believe at 39, Jones has lost more than a few miles off his fastball. If you calculate the extensive amateur career and lengthy professional career, and well, Jones odometer has rolled more than once. Sure he looked good against a Trinidad who was fighting at a career high 170 lb and returning to the ring after years in retirement but even then, Jones fought mostly in spurts. This will not be effective against Calzaghe, who at 36 is not spring chicken but a lot closer to his prime than Jones.
Here is how I see the fight playing out: first couple of rounds will see two tentative boxers feinting and posing more than punching. Jones will try to take advantage first, leaping in with quick salvos that may draw a rise from the partisan crowd. Eventually Calzaghe will settle into his rhythm and begin to score more with his punches in bunches. As Jones takes his foot of the gas in the later rounds Calzaghe will press the issues more, letting his flurries rack up a lead on the scorecards that will secure his victory.
My Confidence: 65%. While I simply cannot see Jones out working Calzaghe, Bernard Hopkins recent domination of Kelly Pavlik have me second guessing any pick against a faded star. Still, I simply believe that at this stage in his career, Jones cannot fight for three full minutes of every round. On the other hand, all Calzaghe does is finds way to win. While not always the most beautiful display of the sweet science, Calzaghe none the less keeps on winning. If Jones can turn back the clock for one night, well then all bets are off as Calzaghe will be in a hell of a predicament. I just don’t see that happening so I am rolling with the Pride of Wales.
My Allegiance: To my wallet, which is the very reason why I won’t be purchasing this atrocity. I like both fighters, but both come off as a bit pretentious at times. I greatly respect Jones career and ability, and as a fight fan loved what he brought to the sport. So I guess if push comes to shove, I would roll with RJ…just not Saturday night.