Is America blind to the talent of Calzaghe? Is Britain underestimating Hopkins?
By Andrew Walker: Unless you have been living under a rock or have no interest in the sport of boxing you will be aware that there is a big boxing match up taking place this weekend in Las Vegas. The fight in question is between the American Bernard Hopkins 48-4-1-(32) defending his Ring magazine light heavyweight title against Wales Joe Calzaghe 44-0-(32) the reigning undisputed super middleweight champion who holds the WBA/WBC/WBO/Ring magazine belts..
Calzaghe also held and then relinquished the IBF super middleweight belt which he took from American Jeff Lacy in 2006 handing the undefeated Lacy his first (and only) loss as well as a boxing lesson. As for longevity Joe Calzaghe has held the WBO version of the super middle weight title for over ten years making twenty two successful defences of it since 11th October 1997.
Hopkins himself is a former long reigning middleweight champion who also reigned for ten plus years finally losing two debatable decision and his title to Jermain Taylor. The first of these losses came on the 16th of July 2005. After the second questionable loss to Taylor Hopkins moved up to light heavyweight f to take impressive victories over first Antonio Tarver and then Ronald (winky) Wright to earn himself the Ring magazine title in the light heavyweight division. Both are at the end of their careers, with Joe Calzaghe aged thirty six and Bernard Hopkins even older aged forty three.
Calzaghe is still in his prime but has stated himself he only has a couple of fights left in him (including this one) whilst Hopkins is not quite the fighter he was in his prime but is still operating at 95% of his ability even at this advanced age. On paper it’s a good, close, match up but if you talk to boxing fans in Britain or America you will get wildly different opinions on how the fight will pan out.
Your casual British boxing fan believes that all Joe Calzaghe has to do is turn up and he will dismantle the trash talking, ignorant, American Hopkins inside the twelve scheduled rounds with ease. Hopkins is seen as another “mouthy” American full of talk who sees himself as a legend whilst the public over here have hardly even heard of him until he started mentioning Joe as an opponent. On the other side of the pond the casual American boxing fans does not even know who Joe Calzaghe is? The term “Euro bum” and “slapper” is banded around a lot and Calzaghe’s record is called into question as to who he has thought.
The truth is that Bernard Hopkins is a great fighter. He is not a legend, but rightfully deserves his place in the boxing hall of fame as one of the great middleweights of modern times. The fact that he is forty three years old/young and still a top ten P4P fighter speaks volumes for the discipline of the man. Joe Calzaghe is without doubt the greatest fighter to come out of the United Kingdom in the last fifty years and Wales and the rest of the countries that make up this little island are rightly proud of him. Neither fighter deserves the lack of respect that has been displayed to them in the build up to this fight by the media and the “fans” of the sport.
Sure Bernard Hopkins comments about never losing to a white boy (you’re fighting a white man Bernard not a boy) deserves contempt but remember Hopkins is not an educated man, he is a product of the street and therefore his outspoken trash talk should be treated with the derision it deserves. It is one of his many tactics in destroying the will of his opponents before they even get into the ring. Unfortunately for Bernard Hopkins it will have no effect on Joe Calzaghe as he has no interest in mind games. He does his talking in the ring. My prediction for this fight is a split decision in favour of Joe Calzaghe.