20.04.08 - By Paul Strauss: In the first round, it looked like Bernard Hopkins, the crafty old veteran, was once more going to prove his critics wrong, and pull off an upset. His plan was to first win the psychological warfare, and then out think and out tough Joe Calzaghe. Hopkins wanted to make Calzaghe mad, and thereby upset his game plan. Calzaghe's game plan was to use his greater speed to overwhelm and constantly pressure Hopkins. He understood it was going to be one of his toughest fights, and when Hopkins dropped him with a short right counter in the first round, that thought quickly became a reality.
Article posted on 20.04.2008
Hopkins was able to land the blow by giving the impression he was bending in to clinch, but instead he fired the short right. Calzaghe didn't see it coming, and it dropped him straight back on the seat of his pants. When he got up, he seemed more embarrassed than hurt, but the punch definitely stung him, and left him with a minor abrasion on the bridge of his nose, and maybe a trickle or two of blood.
Much of the first and second rounds had Hopkins continuing with his side to side movement and occasionally jumping in with a right hand, followed by his head. Then he would clinch, getting a tight grip on Calzaghe's right arm, keeping his own right free to beat on Calzaghe's left side and the back of his head. Calzaghe tried to return the favor with his own rabbit punches.
In the final seconds of the third round, Calzaghe seemed to get a little bit of rhythm going. Then he landed an accidental low blow, which was caused when Hopkins pulled Joe’s head down. It wasn't much of a blow, and I swear Hopkins "winked" at referee Joe Cortez, when asked if he was alright. In between rounds, Trainer Freddie Roach cautioned Hopkins that throwing one punch at a time wasn't going to win the fight. He advised, "This guy is a sucker for a right hand, so throw the right and follow it with a left hook, okay?" Hopkins' deadpan expression remained intact, so it's hard to make out whether he actually heard the advice, or if he did, did he agree?
Regardless, his pattern didn't change. It appeared that Calzaghe was pulling away slightly on points by the seventh round, but Freddie Roach told Hopkins, "This guy is ready to go. You're stronger, and you need to walk this guy down.". Maybe Freddie was a bit confused, because at the end of the previous round, referee Joe Cortez pulled so hard on the two fighters after the bell that he caused Joe to fall.
At this point in the fight, it appeared Joe Cortez and Enzio Calzaghe might be tiring more than either fighter. Cortez was getting quite a work out, when after what seemed to be every few seconds, he would yell "break" and jump in between the two combatants. Several times, he pleaded with the fighters to keep it clean, because he didn't want to take away points. Enzio was yelling himself hoarse, trying to get his son to step up the pressure, and to keep his punches inside of Hopkins gloves. He must have dehydrated himself, because in between curses, he took a hit from the water bottle!
In the tenth round, Calzaghe started a left, but Hopkins used his own left to pull Calzaghe's head down. As a result, the blow strayed low, but before making contact with the palm side of the glove, it hit Hopkins' right glove. Hence, it didn't appear to be a hard blow. But, Hopkins wasn't going to let the opportunity slip by, so he did his best imitation of a method actor, resting up for much of the allotted five minute penalty time. It seemed to temporarily rejuvenate him, and he appeared stronger for the remainder of the round.
Enzo Calzaghe continued berating his son to do more. He gave his son the impression he was behind in the fight, and needed a knock out. In the other corner, Freddie Roach and team were giving Hopkins the impression he was ahead in the fight. Regardless, the same pattern continued, which was pressure by Calzaghe and an occasional counter by Hopkins.
In the twelfth round, Calzaghe continued with pressure, and it was obvious Hopkins was tired, but still dangerous. At one point Hopkins grabbed on to Calzaghe's right arm, and when Cortez ordered them to break, Hopkins maintained his grip, and forced Calzaghe to keep moving away from Cortez, so he couldn't step between them to force a break.
After the fight, both fighters tried to garner agreement from the crowd that they had won the fight. It seemed as though Calzaghe was their choice. Michael Buffer announced the official scores: 114-113 for Hopkins, and 115-112 & 116-111 for Calzaghe. Calzaghe remains unbeaten, and Hopkins’ options dwindled considerably.
Calzaghe was a gracious winner, praising Hopkins' abilities, and agreeing with post fight interviewer Max Kellerman that this had been one of his toughest fights. He said, "It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win." When Kellerman ask him about the first round knockdown, Calzaghe jokingly said he slipped, but then quickly admitted he got caught. He added that he was stung, but not in any real danger, and that that was the only time Hopkins hurt him. Kellerman asked, "What's next for you? Will it be Pavlik or Roy Jones, Jr. Calzaghe said that he seemed to be a legend destroyer, so maybe it will be Jones.
When Kellerman switched to Hopkins, Hopkins claimed he had taken Calzaghe to school, and that his performance was a throw back to the old days. He said, "I busted him up. Look at me, I am not marked up." Kellerman pointed out the punch totals, which heavily favored Calzaghe, adding Calzaghe set a record for number of punches landed against Hopkins. Hopkins remained unfazed, repeating that he thought he won the fight, because he set the pace. Kellerman countered, explaining it appeared Calzaghe was the aggressor for much of the fight.
What's in store for Hopkins now? He certainly remains a good fighter, and one who is capable of giving just about anyone in the super middle and light heavy weight classes trouble, but is just making a creditable showing all that important at this point in his life?. Maybe it's time to hang them up for good this time Bernard.