Boxing


Calzaghe/Jones Countdown: Great Ring Triumphs In Moments Of Adversity

By Vivek Wallace, Calzaghe-Lacy photo by Tom Casino -- On Saturday night in the 'Mecca' - New York City's Madison Square Garden - fight fans will get a chance to see the latest chapter in two very storied careers. As individuals, both men are widely celebrated for their offensive prowess and blinding speed among other things, but when analyzing the effort it took to get them to this point in their respective career's, it's easy to note that one other intangible probably had more to do with their success than all others. That intangible is sheer will power - which has allowed them both to find a way to answer challenges that few could overcome. Today, as the clock and the countdown both continue to unwind, we take a look back at some of the major triumph's on the resume of the two men in an effort to see the same heroics that will undoubtedly rear during the fight. As we take this quick trip down memory lane we start this journey across the pond as we first look at the biggest initial test in the career of Joe Calzaghe.....

OCTOBER 11, 1997 - CALZAGHE VS EUBANK:

To this day, this is the fight that Joe Calzaghe still refers to as the toughest one of his career. Leading up to the fight, Joe Calzaghe had originally been scheduled to face WBO Champion Steve Collins, but in a huge surprise, Collins decided to retire rather than follow through with the fight against the young and dangerous Calzaghe, leaving Calzaghe with a date set and no opponent. Never one to shy away from a challenge and despite the fact that he had recently come off the first two losses of his own career - (both to Collins) - Eubanks decided to step in as Calzaghe's opponent. Eubanks had been in camp preparing to fight as a light heavyweight, but was perfectly fine with the task of dropping the extra pounds to accommodate his 168 pound opponent and having to strategize for him all in a 2 week window. Eubanks entered the ring a dangerous 45-2-2, while Calzaghe was 22-0 with 21KO's, with none of his victories taking longer than 8 rounds to accomplish. Many viewed Calzaghe as the future of the division, but widely untested, and felt the ruggedness and awkwardness of Eubanks would ruin his perfection. From the first bell, Calzaghe showed everyone in attendance and viewing from that there would be no denying him. Calzaghe swarmed Eubanks early and even scored a first round knockdown which was a feat that few thought could possibly happen. Calzaghe would later find out why Eubanks had been so successful in the past as the salty veteran made the fight a tough outing, but in the end, Calzaghe would not only answer the call by registering two official knockdowns of Eubanks, but also go on to win a unanimous decision in a startling fashion. This victory started the championship tenure streak that to this day remains unbroken and it was all a testament to the will of a fighter who stated immediately following the fight that "he hopes to never go through that type of pain again because his body just wasn't used to it".

MARCH 4, 2006 - CALZAGHE VS LACY:

The tale of this fight was very similar in the sense that Calzaghe entered the fight as a man considered somewhat untested. Only this time it wasn't his supporters that wondered whether or not he would live up to expectations, but rather the American crowd who still had known relatively little about him, and often questioned whether or not he was as good as advertised. His opponent, Jeff Lacy, was considered by many to be a smaller rendition of Mike Tyson, waiting for that one career defining moment that had now arrived. With so much at stake, shortly after 2am local time - (to accommodate a U.S. viewing audience) - Calzaghe and Lacy entered the ring and once again a career defining moment was at hand. Most fight fans outside of the U.K. thought that Lacy's power and brute strength would allow him to startle and eventually knock out the man they viewed as 'slap-happy', but in another compelling case made for himself, Calzaghe set out to prove the exact opposite.....and that he did! From the very beginning to the bitter end, Calzaghe dominated the fight, even knocking Lacy down for the first time in his career in the 12th round. It was a total landslide on the cards, and a total embarrassment for Lacy who managed to win a round as a result of a deducted point where Calzaghe punched during a break. This would mark another dominating performance from Calzaghe on a night when the odds and the fans who help create them felt there was little he could do to change his perceived fate. Overall, this was only two examples in a long sequence of events where Calzaghe proved his mettle to any and everyone who dared to watch. His never-say-die attitude has carried him to the top of the sport, but how long he stays there could very well come down to the man he's scheduled to face next. For a glimpse into that mans own will and determination, we now turn the page......

MAY 22, 1993 - ROY JONES JR. VS BERNARD HOPKINS:

Few in the history of the sport have ever come equipped with the pure assemblage of skills that are found in Roy Jones Jr. Power, speed, and all other necessary trimmings involved, displayed in a way that only he could architect. Despite his greatness at the time, his 21-0 record would be soon tested at the hands of a very dangerous 22-1 Philly fighter named Bernard Hopkins. In the eyes of most, Hopkins was a comparable fighter to Jones, only his way of handling business in the ring was more of a brutal delivery, using powerful combinations and a very stalking style. Both had totally annihilated nearly everyone who had ever stepped in the ring across from them, so naturally, at this point it was only fitting for them to square off. Many predicted a close, grueling affair, and felt that neither man would be able to run away with the fight after being thoroughly tested to this depth for the first time. In appearance for a while it would appear that they were right, but when the score cards were read, it only reinforced what some already knew......Which was that Roy Jones Jr. had finally arrived on the global scale and that his very innate ability to basically dissect an opponent from top to bottom was no fluke. Jones went on to win by 116-112 on each of the three score cards. To this day, Bernard Hopkins still maintains that Jones Jr. is the only boxer he has ever faced that truly defeated him in a way that was unquestionable. Few thought that would be possible at the time, but that same select few probably had no idea of the true talent that Roy Jones Jr. possessed. Needless to say, but after this fight, there were no more doubters for a good while to come.

MARCH 1, 2003 - ROY JONES JR. VS JOHN RUIZ:

Roy Jones Jr.'s dominance continued after the Hopkins victory, and after causing pure havoc and destruction for years, there seemed to be no challenge great enough to slow him, and a precious few could even begin to generate the type of motivation needed to compete. Roy Jones' dominance had gotten so regular to the point where most began to feel that he was boring, due to the fact that no one could even come close to slowing him in the ring. Anxious to motivate himself like never before, Jones Jr. set out to do something that not man in the sport had done in well over a century. That feat was to become the first fighter in that period to move from being the middleweight ranks as a champ to the heavyweight ranks as a champ. His choice in opponent was the very unorthodox, wild and rugged John Ruiz who didn't have the greatest of skills, but was well proven after defeating Evander Holyfield in a trilogy that saw both men get a victory, and one draw. On fight night, many wanted to believe that Jones could get the job done, but this was a man that outweighed him by 23 pounds and also enjoyed other ring advantages such as 4 inches in height, as well as 4 inches in reach. Once the bell rang, Ruiz would have his name added to the ranks of those who had tried but came up miserably short, as Jones went on to win the WBA portion of the heavyweight strap and join Bob Fitzsimmons as the only middleweight to accomplish something so grand since 1897. Jones would later admit that he "had no idea what to expect against such a larger opponent" but that he "knew his skills would eventually bring the strap home". It would appear that no one would ever be able to compete with Jones on any level and that he would indeed untouchable. Or so we all thought.......

For the years to follow, both Jones and Calzaghe would have a few other career defining moments. For Calzaghe, he would successfully defend against Danish fighter Mikkel Kessler, and a host of others, yet prevail each time. For Jones, he wasn't so fortunate. He would eventually suffer stunning KO losses to both Glen Johnson as well as Antonio Tarver, going through a stretch where he had loss 3 fights in a row. Recently, Jones has gone on to build a 3 fight winning streak, which included a fight at a catch weight of 170 lbs with Puerto Rican Felix Trinidad. The test that awaits both men is huge in the sense that neither has ever had a reason to motivate themselves to this level. For Calzaghe, it's the mere thought of going undefeated in 45 fights and losing the one that was set up to allow him to walk into retirement immediately after, unblemished. For Jones, it's the mere thought of cementing a somewhat blemished, but still stellar career. When the bell rings, both men will step up, but as we all know, only one can win. The time is near........

(Day 2 of the countdown is now in the books. 1 Day left to expire before we reach our final destination - fight day. Tune in for tomorrows 'CALL EM OUT FRIDAYS' segment to see: "Jones/Calzaghe - Two Countries, Two Men, One Legacy Standing In The End").

(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com and 954-292-7346, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)

Article posted on 06.11.2008



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