Will Hopkins Beat Calzaghe?

Bernard HopkinsBy James Barlow: In just over a week Joe Calzaghe will finally meet Bernard Hopkins face to face for the first time in the ring. All the talking will be over and these two superstars over their own perspective sides of the pond will clash in the U.S to see just who the best is. This for me is an interesting fight but one that should have happened five years ago. The usual issues, that at times can seem the death of boxing, money and politics got in the way of these two in the past.

Although I donít doubt Hopkins skill I have never really been a big fan of his. He has fought other boxing superstars but they usually came out of their natural/best weight category to make these mega fights. I applaud the likes of De La Hoya and Trinidad (some of you may say that Trinidad was a middle weight champ when he fought Hopkins but he was never really comfortable at the weight) for stepping up to fight Hopkins but felt it was a shame you could never say the same about a peak Hopkins.

There were a lot of big fights out there that could have been made at super middle weight and light heavy but he always seemed unwilling to step out of his middleweight comfort zone. A rematch with Roy Jones Jr was something he seemed to avoid like the plague, and other fights with regular middle/super middle weights like Michael Nunn, James Toney, Mike McCallum, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Steve Collins and of course Joe Calzaghe never materialized. From around 2001 to 2005 a Hopkins Calzaghe fight was the boxing fans fight of choice.

Calzaghe was treading water having destroyed everyone at super middle weight and seemed keen on a match up with B Ė Hop. They even agreed terms at one point only for Hopkins to back out of the agreement. Hopkins instead elected to fight the likes of Carl Daniels, Morrade Hakkar, the just above average William Joppy, Robert Allen, a blown up De La Hoya and then another just above average fighter in Howard Eastman. Hardly career defining stuff at your pound for pound peak. For me over this period Hopkins proved he wanted no part of Calzaghe and was happy taking the regular easy cash.

Hopkins then lost twice against Jermain Taylor and lost a lot of his credibility. Wins over Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright proved he still has something to offer but it still seemed we had seen the best of Hopkins. With his record tarnished by Taylor (things got worse when Taylor proved he wasnít a superstar in the making with mediocre defenses and a battering at the hands of Kelly Pavlik) Hopkins now started calling out Calzaghe. Calzaghe had proved in fights against Jeff Lacy and Mikkel Kessler what British fans knew all along he was a world beater.

This fight was then made. Calzaghe is super confident that he will beat Hopkins, and a past his prime Hopkins does not have much to lose kudos wise at this late stage of his career. Will Hopkins beat Calzaghe? Iím going to stick my neck out a bit and you can quote me on this. Expect no surprises. Do not listen to writers telling you that Hopkins still has the tactical skills to make a fight of this one.

This fight will go the distance and a peak Joe Calzaghe will dismantle Hopkins with his superior work rate and hand speed. But it will be Hopkins who will have the last laugh when he puts his pay check in the bank. After the dust settles I hope this fight will be a spring board for Calzaghe to take on Kelly Pavlik late 2008.

Article posted on 11.04.2008

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