The Roy Jones vs. Joe Calzaghe Forecast

By Evan Young, Both of these guys have had storied careers although Jones has appears to have seen his better days while Calzaghe has reached the pinnacle over the past year when he scored excellent point wins over superb Mikkel Kessler and living legend Bernard Hopkins.Jones, when he was in his prime, may have been the most dominant boxer we have ever seen. He was virtuoso performer that was virtually untouchable and could paint his ring canvas in any manner he desired. Jones, circa 1995 -2002, just made everything look too easy. Jones had unparalleled talent and speed and made solid fighters look like they were fighting in quicksand with a 100 pound backpack on..

Calzaghe, over time, has finally earned begrudging respect for his ring accomplishments. He is unbeaten in 45 fights but for many years took a lot of heat for fighting in his home of Wales and picking on modest competition. It seemed that only his countrymen were able to appreciate Calzaghe’s unique abilities and recognize his underrated toughness.

Many thought Calzaghe was going to get his comeuppance when he met burly American puncher Jeff “left Hook” Lacy. Lacy was the 2-1 favorite fighting in Calazghe’s backyard and most thought Lacy would roll through Calzaghe. But Calzaghe had other ideas and once the bell rang, Calzaghe took Lacy to school, administering one of the most painful boxing lessons ever witnessed. Calzaghe not only out boxed Lacy but outfought and out gritted him at every turn. Lacy was thoroughly destroyed only gaining the moral victory of hobbling to the final bell. I believe this fight absolutely ruined Jeff Lacy.

But many quickly dismissed the win over Lacy because Lacy was deemed crude and slow. Let’s see how Calzaghe would do against the strong, hard hitting and talented Dane Mikkel Kessler, who was considered by many as the very best in the world at 168. Well, Calzaghe handled him, too, not as easily as Lacy but clear just the same. And in Calzaghe’s last fight against legend Bernard Hopkins, Calzaghe shook off a first round knockdown to outhustle and bamboozle the master strategist. Hopkins simply couldn’t keep pace with the ultra conditioned Calzaghe.

What happened to Jones some of you may ask? Why did he suffer one of the most shocking falls in the sports history? Well, I have a few ideas on that. In early 2003, Jones moved up to heavyweight to challenge John Ruiz for his title. Jones engaged in a fantastic conditioning regime with fitness guru Mackie Shilstone. Shilstone helped Jones gain 25 pounds of functional muscle mass in which Jones utilized in whipping Ruiz. Jones, to his great detriment, decided to return to 175. That was a major mistake.

And not only did he lose all that properly gained muscle mass, he did it the wrong way. The results were a shaky decision over Antonio Tarver and then 3 consecutive losses, 2 by KO. Tarver KO’d Jones in their rematch and 4 months later Glen Johnson knocked Jones unconscious for about 10 minutes in a very scary scene. Jones had a 3rd fight with Tarver where he was repeatedly hurt en route to a wide decision loss.

In my view, Jones compromised his reflexes and neurology by jumping back down in weight. (Just look at what happened to Chris Byrd recently , who was a longtime heavyweight that took the punches of men like Wladimir Klitschko et al but when he dropped down to a skinny 175 pounds he was hurt and knocked out by not very special Shaun George. That’s a glaring example of what a drastic weight loss can do to a 30 something fighter)

Anyway, Jones just couldn’t “go out that way” so he has embarked on a comeback that has resulted in 3 consecutive decision wins against decent but not great competition. Those wins were against Prince Badi Ajamu, Anthony Hanshaw and Felix Trinidad, respectively.

Calzaghe is a southpaw boxer with a very difficult style to deal with. He’s quick; he can move and throw punches from any angle. In addition, he’s in great condition and can bring a tremendous work rate to his fights. He’s got top notch skills and to top it off he is a very tough guy with a very solid beard. He’s 36 but still seems to be at the top of his game. And I think moving up to 175 is good for Calzaghe. He was at 168 for years and it was becoming a grind to make that weight over the past few years. And now that has an excursion at 175 behind him (Hopkins) he should be strong for his sophomore outing at this weight.

Jones still brings good speed and athleticism to his fights. But while he’s still quick, he is still not near the virtuoso superman he once was. He’s faster than most but his talents have slipped into the upper echelons of mere mortals. He’s more hittable than he ever has been before. Even blown up Felix Trinidad, who was out of boxing for 3 years and thrashed by Hopkins and Winky Wright before that was able to repeatedly find Jones. Jones won widely but Trinidad was able to rake Jones’ body and land some decent head shots from time to time. I do think Jones has a suspect chin and if he’s caught cleanly can be wobbled. Jones is someone that likes to fight at his own tempo and does not to be pressed or pushed.

With Calzaghe, Jones is fighting a guy with comparable speed, but one who brings a more consistent and workman like effort. Jones may have better one punch power but I think Calzaghe is the tougher guy, the busier guy and even the stronger guy. If this was the Jones of 1997 against today’s’ Calzaghe, I’d pick Jones. He was simply light speed above everyone else at that time. But I think those days are gone and based on how Jones has looked in his last 3 wins, while he’s still a legitimate contender, I don’t think he has recaptured glory days of old – and I don’t think he will. And I think he will have a problem against a guy like Calzaghe, who is dogged, tough and skilled.

I think Jones will try to lay traps for Calzaghe and shoot counter punches but I don’t think Jones has what it takes to do that successfully for a complete fight. Calzaghe, don’t forget, is more than a slow plodder. He’s got speed and his own unique abilities to accompany his southpaw stance. I think Calzaghe will get rough with Jones at times, go to the body and basically let his hands go – a lot. I think it will be enough to get Calzaghe another win and allow him to stay undefeated. I’m a bit confounded about how Calzaghe will win. I see either a decision or KO as possible. The logical outcome is a decision win for Calzaghe but I think Calzaghe is capable of hurting Jones and wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of a KO win for Calzaghe. I’ll go for the Calzaghe win inside the distance, perhaps somewhere around the 10th round.

Article posted on 08.11.2008

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