How We値l Remember Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe

By Jason Peck: Both are elite fighters who had the talent to dominate their divisions. Then both spent the majority of their careers wasting it. Their entries at Canastosa could have had exclamation points; future fans will bring question marks..

I can稚 say for sure how a fight between super-middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe and light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins would go. But I知 intrigued by the similarities in their careers: they represent two of the most talented, and least accomplished fighters of the past decade.

Wake up! There's a good reason why the boxing world spent so much time ignoring them.

Before posting the 擢*** you comments below, try the following exercise: Name their greatest victories. I値l bet that list covers less than one-tenth of their careers.

Both careers consist primarily of second-tier journeymen (many of whom already failed in multiple title shots) and former champions past their best days. Both passed on innumerable opportunities to fight men they could have beaten.

Then both finally took a risk toward the twilights of their careers, and acted as though they had been so bold the whole time.

When people talk about Joe Calzaghe痴 dominance at 168 pounds, they池e not talking about his ten years as a belt-holder. More than likely they池e just interested in the past two years a fraction of his boxing life when he beat Jeff Lacy and Mikkel Kessler.

But Lacy and Kessler were far above par for the average Calzaghe opponent. A more harmless fighter like Evans Ashira, Richie Woodhall or Mario Veit more fits the bill. The Calzaghe that calls out quality fighters has become known among the forgetful as the Calzaghe we致e always had.

Remember it wasn稚 that long ago that Calzaghe痴 notion of a dream fight was a match against Eamon Magee. The WBO earned Calzaghe痴 ire when it forced him to fight the similarly unqualified Mario Veit instead.

Turn to Bernard Hopkins, and very little concerns his decade of dominance as the IBF middleweight champ (despite some significant, but unappreciated victories such as Awtumn Echols). Instead we inevitably focus on a handful of super-fights he won following his thrashing of Felix Trinidad in 2001. But Hopkins wasted no time in squandering the momentum.

It痴 the same story with B-Hop: Trinidad, Tarver and Wright are by far the most accomplished fighters he faced. However, his average opponent looked more like Carl Daniels or Morrade Hakkar fighters who simply presented no threat.

Or they were cases like William Joppy, where Hopkins merely waited until time had pounded him to a less threatening figure. He talked about fighting Winky Wright years ago when Wright was actually fighting as his ideal weight; it too fell through.

If either beat a qualified fighter, it was usually by accident (Glen Johnson, Sakio Bika), not because they knew the risk. By and large, their careers consist of former-greats and never-greats.

Don King was right when he pointed out that Hopkins was like a man who won the lottery, then threw away the ticket. Calzaghe could sympathize.

Many fans lionized them and made heroes of their second-rate victims after the fact. I respect both fighters; both stand among the top of the sport. But there痴 no question that the both of them didn稚 use their talent to the best of their abilities.

To be fair, many things kept them from big fights: greedy promoters, cowardly boxers and a general lack of name recognition. But more often than not, they have no one to blame but themselves. They out-priced themselves, were hard to deal with, and didn't take the risk.

Article posted on 27.12.2007

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