Joe Calzaghe’s Slim Pickings

Joe Calzaghe11.11.08 - By Max Lom - With his feet firmly planted atop the boxing world after his dominant win over Roy Jones Jr, many have called for Joe Calzaghe to step away from the sport while he is at his peak. Although that may appear to be an easy decision for the 36-year-old Pride of Wales, he does have some decent options if he does choose to continue his career. Below, I’ve listed the options for Calzaghe’s next fight, ranked from best to worst.

Chad Dawson: At only 26, Dawson might be the fastest rising American boxer at any weight. His recent domination of Antonio Tarver raised a lot of eyebrows and even prompted Floyd Mayweather Jr, a fighter always short on compliments, to call him the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. A bout with Dawson would not be as lucrative as a UK return with Jones or Hopkins, but a decisive win for Calzaghe would cement his place as the best of the era in many people’s minds. Dawson would also probably be willing to head overseas for this fight; if that is what the Welshman wants, and the British public can never get enough of their fighters facing off against highly-rated Americans. It may well be deemed too risky a fight for the modest pay-date, but if Calzaghe is still hungry to improve his legacy then Dawson is his natural next opponent.

Bernard Hopkins: The first fight was both a sporting mediocrity and a commercial failure, but after Hopkins destroyed Kelly Pavlik in Atlantic City, a rematch between the two is much more plausible. “The Executioner” even stated that he’d be willing to “fly to England”, an offer that may be too good to pass up for Calzaghe, even if Hopkins does have some trouble identifying his home nation. The downside is that it is another risky fight, and beating Hopkins in another close, boring contest would do little for Calzaghe other than adding to his wallet.

Mikkel Kessler: The Dane is a great fighter, but Calzaghe had his number in the last fight, and although Kessler was never dominated, the fight was a clear decision, and Calzaghe never looked like he was in any serious danger throughout the 12 rounds. They could probably fill a stadium again, but I doubt the media attention would be as great as the first fight.

Roy Jones Jr: Some observers have claimed that a return with Jones might be a possibility, but I honestly don’t see it as realistic. Saturday’s fight was so one-sided after the first 3 rounds that you’d have to say Calzaghe would beat Jones 10 out of 10 times if they were to fight again. It wasn’t a bad performance by an ageing Jones, but he has clearly slowed down much more than Calzaghe, and simply cannot handle the Welshman’s onslaught any more.

Jermain Taylor: He isn’t on the radar right now, but if Taylor is able to launch his comeback with an impressive performance against Jeff Lacy this Saturday, then he may move himself back toward boxing’s elite. It is entirely possible that Kelly Pavlik was simply a bad matchup for Taylor, and that his two wins over Hopkins were no flukes, although his post-Hopkins resume is far from impressive.

Arthur Abraham: Though he is largely unproven outside of Germany, Abraham might be one of the most dangerous fighters in the sport today. He possesses great strength without any major height advantage, and could be a threat if he were to move up weight classes. This fight would be very big in Europe, but the Abraham camp has been mostly unwilling to leave their friendly confines so far, and that could be the case for any Calzaghe fight down the road as well.

Kelly Pavlik: This looked like an obvious matchup until Hopkins blew those plans up last month in Atlantic City. Pavlik’s loss was so comprehensive that it will likely take him two or three impressive comeback fights before he could get himself back in the discussion with the Calzaghe team.

Assuming he wants to fight on, Calzaghe’s best option for now is probably to take some time off and let the 160 to 175 divisions set themselves before choosing the most worthy challenger. He has now earned the right to fight on his terms against anyone in the sport, so he will have the luxury of being able to pick whatever match up he feels is right for him. To this observer, he doesn’t seem like a boxer that is ready to retire. There isn’t much unfinished business left for him now, but if he wants to keep winning he certainly looks more than capable.

Article posted on 11.11.2008

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