Joe Calzaghe Deserves Credit For Coming To The U.S. - Hopkins/Calzaghe

Joe CalzagheBy Geoffrey Ciani: Roy Jones Jr. and Dariusz Michalczewski both simultaneously held portions of the light heavyweight championship for more than six years. A showdown between these two seemed inevitable, but for various reasons, the fight never came to fruition. As a result, boxing fans were deprived an opportunity to see the division’s two best fighters proving who was the better man. This is something which shall forever taint the legacies of both champions, as well it should. After all, could you imagine the implications had Muhammad Ali had never squared off against Joe Frazier?

Why these two never fought and who was to blame is a matter of debate. Some say the timing was never right, others claim the potential reward was not worth the risk, and some will blame one or the other for not leaving his home country to make the fight happen. Although there is probably some truth in all of this, the last reason seems to be the one most frequently cited. Michalczewski supporters will claim that since Dariusz was making bigger purses overseas, Jones should have come to him, whereas, Jones fans contend the United States is the Mecca of Boxing, and as such, that Dariusz had to come to him. Whatever your take may be, I think everyone will agree this fight should have happened.

Thankfully, such nonsense has not precluded the upcoming mega bout between Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe from becoming a reality. Like Michalczewski, Calzaghe is a national celebrity who has never left the comfortable confines of Europe. Like Dariusz, he has also made a great deal of money during his championship reign, spanning over ten years with twenty-one successful title defenses to his credit. Unlike Michalczewski, he is daring to be great by venturing over to the United States to take on a great challenge, and for this, he deserved tremendous credit.

With Jones and Michalczewski, most American boxing fans always assumed that Jones would have handily defeated the long-time WBO champion. Recent losses against Antonio Tarver, and more particularly, Glen Johnson, have led many to reevaluate this previous position, due to the fact the latter employed a similar (albeit inferior) style to Michalczewski. Since the fight never actually happened, we can only speculate on how things may have unfolded. The same cannot be said for Hopkins and Calzaghe because, at the end of the day, barring a draw or dubious circumstances, one fighter will prevail over the other proving he was the better man.

What makes the Hopkins versus Calzaghe bout even more interesting than the non-event between Jones and Michalczewski is the fact that both Joe and Bernard are both universally recognized as elite fighters amongst the best five in the world. While it may be true that Calzaghe’s resume is best defined by mediocrity, recent wins against formidable foes Jeff Lacy and Mikkel Kessler have helped propel him into the spotlight, and even though Bernard Hopkins is 43 years old, recent victories against Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright suggest he still has something left in the tank.

Whoever wins, and whatever happens, these two fighters should both be applauded for making this fight happen. That Joe Calzaghe is daring to be great by crossing the pond to take on the biggest challenge of his career is a testament to his championship heart, and he deserves credit for doing this. Even if Joe loses, as I suspect he will, at least he is trying to secure his legacy by taking on a truly great fighter, which is something he had never done previously throughout his entire fifteen year career. Kudos to Calzaghe for finally taking such a chance.

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Article posted on 11.04.2008

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