Reign Of The Supermen - Boxing
By Coyote Duran, (Nov 8, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Logo © DC Comics)  
In June of 1993, after a three-month hiatus for all of its Superman titles, DC Comics launched a storyline that introduced the world to four different ‘Supermen”. They coined it ‘Reign of the Supermen’ and raked in the money.

Hey, they did what they had to do and created a whole lot of media hoopla in the build-up of ‘Reign’s’ four-color place of birth, ‘The Death of Superman’. The company not only profited from the death of their flagship character; they rejuvenated him and, basically, took a brave step
walking into a storyline originally concocted to hold off a relatively (it can’t be truly and totally happy. It’s Superman. There’d be no more stories to tell) happy ending in Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s wedding.

‘Reign’ was cool because it introduced four replacements in the wake of ‘Death’; and every one of them believed himself to be the real embodiment of a moral ideal (if not believing himself to actually be Superman).

Meanwhile, with the help of ‘The Man of Tomorrow’ (The Eradicator), Superman eventually recovered and returned to the responsibility of being the best in his class.

Roy Jones Jr., Our Sport’s version of Superman, suffered his own ‘death’ in 2005; losing a rubbermatch to former World Light Heavyweight Champion Antonio Tarver. It can be reasonably argued that Tarver (in their second fight in May 2004) or Glen Johnson (four months later) acted as Jones’ ‘Doomsday’ and if so, the last loss proved to be the nail in the coffin. But truth has more effectively proven to be stranger than fiction.

Although obviously more methodical than Superman’s return to the skies, Jones, 52-4 (38), return to the top comparatively holds just as much water as Kal-El’s. But the fictional ‘Man of Steel’ also ultimately prevailed where Jones has yet to find if he’s regenerated adequately. Facing the New (but oh-so-been-around-a-while) Jack of the light heavyweights, Joe Calzaghe, 45-0 (32), has become Jones' personal mission in finding out who the real Superman is; even if he's not.

Calzaghe typically doesn't carry a nickname; or one that sticks, for that matter. Half-assedly, Calzaghe has been known as 'The Welsh Dragon' or 'Super Joe' but through the height of his career, the here and now, simply being 'Joe Calzaghe' has done just fine. So, logic surrealistically dictates that as Calzaghe is now, a dual world champion (at super middle and light heavy), there will always be some sort of comparison to the original modern-day Superman in boxing, Jones Jr. As long as Jones (interestingly enough, another nickname-less fighter) still wants to open his shirt to reveal his 'S', Calzaghe won't truly be considered the 175-pound Kal-El. And it's doubtful that Calzaghe even cares. It's Calzaghe's personal mission have his own happy ending in The Big Apple on Saturday; walking away from the adventure altogether, post-Jones.

Jones, just like the Superman of comics, didn't just come right back after his 'death.' He considered his own age and losses; after his own most recent, and built himself back up against less experienced opponents, Prince Badi Ajamu and Anthony Hanshaw. Ajamu and Hanshaw, with youth on their side, carried in winning records and probably could have been perceived as better 'gimmes' than average. Of the two, Hanshaw has the better chance at cultivating a prosperous future at 168 and/or 175 once Calzaghe abdicates and Jones, Tarver, Johnson and Bernard Hopkins go away. By this time, Hanshaw might honestly be an alphabet player concurrently ruling the light heavies with IBF titlist Chad Dawson, WBC titlist Adrian Diaconu and World Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik. Maybe not. Losing to a slower-but-wiser Jones isn't exactly a slight on a young fighter's record.

Jones, who toyed with the idea of facing Felix Trinidad prior to 'Tito's' maiden loss to Hopkins back in 2001, got his wish and got it done; albeit seven years too late. Trinidad, a boxing god in the eyes of his people, suffered a softening loss to ex-Undisputed Junior Middleweight Champ Winky Wright at 160; no longer the formidable wrecking machine he was at 147-154 by the time he faced Jones in January. Still, the pairing made us nostalgic; if not desperately in need for entertainment. To some, however, Jones' win over Trinidad was a perfect step in the right direction; comeback-wise. Both fighters' losses didn't matter. Each was past his best and an even fight was the least of expectations. In Jones' mind, the ladder to success was almost fully climbed. Jones was on a streak. But one thing was still missing. The haughty self-recognition of Roy Jones past.

Like Superman in the regeneration matrix, for the most part, Jones was at peace. Peace tends to be followed closely by rejuvenation, clear thought and strategy. But if Roy Jones Jr. is the real Superman, then Joe Calzaghe must be on the level of Captain Marvel ‘cause he sure as hell ain’t no Hank Henshaw and Roy Jones isn’t just going to bust Calzaghe up into a thousand pieces. There’s your reality check, kids.

Since beating Chris Eubank in 1997 for the WBO super middleweight title, Joe Calzaghe has laid his claim to a version of the 168-pound title and toiled geographically to convince the masses that he was the best in his class. Meanwhile Jones was toiling geographically to convince the masses that he was the best in the 175-pound class. Both, with varied acceptance, were never really universally accepted until Calzaghe took the first step toward total dominance of the super middleweight division; beating Jeff Lacy in March 2006 for the IBF title and The Ring Magazine's distinction as World Champion. Calzaghe would cement his name in the books with a win over Mikkel Kessler a year ago; taking the Dane’s WBA and WBC belts in the process. By this time, realistically, there were no more real, solid challenges at 168.

So Joe did what a future Hall-of Famer with less time (in his personal view) on his hands would do. He made the most of it and made the logical jump seven pounds north; not only challenging then-champ Bernard Hopkins, but beating him for his belt and becoming a boxing anomaly by holding two world championships, at two different weights, simultaneously. And that’s something John Henry Irons, Hank Henshaw, The Eradicator and Conner Kent couldn’t even do when the real Superman was taking a temporary dirt nap. Then again, they weren’t fighters…well, boxers…and I guess it would help if they were real too.

But Calzaghe and Jones are. And both see themselves as Superman; though with Jones, it’s more of a conscious mental effort. ‘Super Joe’ is merely rolling with the distinction; should he defeat Jones.

And if so (and the possibility is very good), maybe Calzaghe will fully embrace his ‘Super’ title; knowing he defeated Superman at long last. Maybe not the same Superman he used to be, historically; perhaps a little worn out and lightly dusted with Kryptonite. Not enough to kill him of course, but enough to slow him down a little bit. Make him tired. You know, ready him for a nice long, deserved retirement on the farm back in Smallville. Or Pensacola. Moo cows. Game cocks. What’s the diff? It all smells like horsesh*t anyhow.

The farm. Not the fight.

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