As Calzaghe Scrapes Points Win Over Hopkins, Should The Question Be Asked - Don't The Judges Appreciate The Subtleties Any More?

20.04.08 - by James Slater: Let me start right off the bat by telling you I predicted a split decision win for Joe Calzaghe last night. Let me also tell you that I do not believe he deserved this winning result he actually got from the judges after his 12 rounds with Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas last night. No, the result was far from an outrageous one, but at the same time it made me ask the question, what do judges look at as their priority when scoring a boxing contest these days?

Yes, Joe was the man coming forward, and he was the man with more aggression on his mind. But what about the masterful Hopkins' ability to control both the pace and the majority of the movement in the ring, his superbly delivered counter-punches - with the right hand mostly - and his superb defensive moves? As Hopkins said after the fight, he made Calzaghe look like an amateur at times. Are the subtleties of ring craft being disregarded by today's scoring officials? I think they were last night. Hopkins fought a near masterpiece. And the 43-year-old is not getting this praise simply due to his advanced age.

Hopkins made Calzaghe look a completely different fighter than normal. Joe looked frustrated, clumsy, quite easy to hit and, as Hopkins said, amateurish. Even those who feel Joe won would surely have to admit this was the least impressive he's looked for many a year. Hopkins, once again proving he is an absolute master at shutting a guy down, took the Welshman to school at times. Enzo Calzaghe, Joe's dad and trainer, could see this and was implored to scream at his son a number of times as he tended to him between rounds. The trainer knew his son was not looking his old self, and he also knew it was because Hopkins had made it his kind of fight.

"Do you want to stop him, or do you want him to stop you!?, Enzo bellowed between rounds 6 and 7. "Because that's the way it's going." The concern was all too real and Enzo knew his son was in serious danger of losing. "If you don't win this last round, it's over!," the trainer screamed at Joe before the 12th and final round. "You've got to stop him!" Did Enzo feel the points win was in the bag? Like hell he did. The fact that it actually was must have come as a huge relief to him, as it came as quite a shock to this writer - especially the ludicrously wide margin of one judge. 116-111! That was not only plain wrong, it was also an insult not only to Hopkins to but all the past old-school masters of the sweet science. Again, don't the subtleties of the ring masters count anymore?

I though Hopkins fought a superb and clever fight. Once again pacing him brilliantly, the older man never let Joe come anywhere close to putting on the type of "Jeff Lacy" performance some writers foolishly predicted beforehand. There were no windmill imitations from Calzaghe on this night. The knockdown Hopkins scored in the 1st round - a knockdown that was the result of a superbly delivered right hand - put paid to Joe’s desire to let it all hang out as has become his trademark. Joe knew the risks of adopting such kamikaze tactics that he’s made his own in the past. Tonight he was in with the most intelligent, dangerous and crafty opponent of his long career.

Calzgahe, to his credit, did come into the fight from the 5th round on (I gave B-Hop all of the first four), but he never really got into the groove we have all become accustomed from him. To me, Hopkins was the ring general last night, sometimes landing his counters almost at will. Apart from the two low blows, which Hopkins admittedly made too much of, the 43-year-old looked as though he was enjoying himself in the fight. I was certainly enjoying his quite magnificent showcase of the art of pugilistic skill. Two of the three judges, however, were sadly not doing the same.

Coming forward and trying to make a fight of it is an admirable thing, but when you find yourself getting counterpunched something awful by the man you’re chasing you have no right to claim a victory - something Joe Calzaghe did last night. For what it’s worth, I had the Ring magazine belt holder retaining his title by a 115-112 margin.

“The good thing about boxing,” Hopkins said after the result was announced, “is that the fans are the real judges.” I for one hope the fans saw what two of the three official judges never last night.

Article posted on 20.04.2008

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