Sharkie's Machine: Down in the First, Joe Calzaghe Beats Roy Jones Jr in Twelve
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Nov 9, 2008) Photo © Bob Kolb, DoghouseBoxing  
Saturday night in New York City, the fans got their money’s worth, as Madison Square Garden featured the long overdue Light Heavyweight battle between two of the biggest names in boxing, Roy Jones Jr. (52-5, 38 KO’s) against Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KO’s). Jones scored a knockdown late in the first round and may have won the second round after scoring some of the cleaner punches but from that point on, it was all Joe Calzaghe, who cut Jones over his left eye in the seventh en route to a dominating performance of punching, scoring and controlling the ring.

Roy Jones Jr. showed big heart early on and looked particularly dangerous after landing a crashing right that put Calzaghe down in the first. It was a classic Jones shot, almost invisible, as it was so fast. Joe got up quick enough but looked a bit in pain. No matter, he was quick to rally with forward punches until the bell. That was a ten-eight round for Jones, no doubt.

Early in the second round, there was a sense that Jones might surprise a lot of people and make Bernard Hopkins look like Nostradamus, since Hopkins predicted Jones would win because he has the better power and there’d be at least two knockdowns. Hop was partially right. Jones did have the superior power and the crisper punches—when he threw them. The problem was he couldn’t keep up.

This was very much a mental fight, as Jones thought he got into Calzaghe’s head after the knockdown in the first, but Calzaghe’s resilience and persistence proved the exact formula for beating the ‘safety first’ and not so aggressive Roy Jones Jr. When Roy ’s confidence rose Calzaghe was quick to take it right back.

By the third round, Calzaghe was mimicking Roy ’s little showboat moves and completely turned the tide regarding the mental aspect. Calzaghe was in control of the tempo and totally inside Jones’ head, as he constantly forced Jones into the ropes and taunted him by sticking his head forward for Roy to try and hit him. It was Calzaghe who did most of the punching in this fight, to the effect of scoring the most points, round after round. From the third on through the twelfth I couldn’t find a round to give Jones.

Calzaghe’s body language harassed Roy in a manner that reminded me of how Roy used to do, back ye olden days when he was fighting easy marks and putting on that little extra something to make it humiliating for his opponent. Calzaghe constantly threw punches from all kinds of angles and beat Roy to the punch all night. By the seventh round, Roy was cut over his left eye and it was swelling up badly.

Calzaghe moved forward all the time, often with his hands down and his head pointed at Jones gloves, taunting him, hitting him, and forcing him in whatever direction Calzaghe wanted. Besides beating Roy to the punch and swarming him with little pity pat shots that were winning rounds, Calzaghe almost playfully, had his way with Jones.

As the fight continued, it was more of the same, with Calzaghe dominating Roy with pressure, volume punching and in the late rounds, Jones corner seemed to have problems controlling the cut eye but Jones fought on and took his beating like a man until the final bell.

The Judges all scored it identically at 118-109, all for Calzaghe.

Though Jones lost this fight by a mile, I am impressed by his show of bravery so late in his career. Of course, this would’ve been HUGE and worthy of PPV if this was 2000 and both were in their prime, instead of just Calzaghe. Though Joe was still campaigning at Super Middle and Jones was still the top guy at Light Heavy, they could’ve met at a catch weight and given history something grand to remember. Plus, both were undefeated in 2000.

It hardly deserves an exclamation point now, but since this fight turned out better than expected for this fan, it has a somewhat retroactive importance; especially for Joe Calzaghe, who gets to add the “legendary” Roy Jones Jr. to his undefeated record.

Calzaghe likes to refer to himself as the legend killer. After beating the likes of Kessler, Hopkins and Jones convincingly, he may have one more guy to beat to make that idea more complete; Chad Dawson, the IBF LHW titlist. Like Calzaghe, Dawson has fast hands and unlike Joe , Chad has pretty good power to go with that speed. The guy who really deserves to fight Calzaghe would have to be Glen Johnson, the Road Warrior. If Calzaghe were to beat Johnson or Dawson, he will have beaten the best fighters of his era. But somehow I doubt Calzaghe overstays his welcome. He’ll probably retire soon. It’s the perfect time too.

Fighters are not like bottles of fine wine; they don’t often get better with age. Marcellus Wallace might’ve agreed that at 39, this was Old Timer’s Day for Roy Jones Jr. But regardless the outcome, 43 year old Hopkins is still waiting patiently for that very long overdue rematch.

Hopkins looked so good against Kelly Pavlik that you have to wonder how Calzaghe might fare against the new and improved Hopkins in a rematch. If the will to make it happen exists, it can happen. But a rematch with Jones is too historically important for Hopkins to bypass for a rematch with Calzaghe. Its also doubtful Joe would want a rematch. He doesn’t need one.

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Why any fight with Roy Jones Jr. at this point would be on Pay-Per-View has to be annoying for younger fans who try to follow this sport. It wasn’t like we’d be getting prime Roy Jones, slipping and sliding, popping shots from wild angles and putting on a show of athleticism to rival all athletes.

At 36, Calzaghe is still in his prime, still has fast hands and great stamina, though he’s probably very close to his peak point. For Jones, who was always an unorthodox styled fighter, he didn’t have the energy to make his point and got so far behind on the cards, only a knockout would’ve won the fight for him. During the middle rounds, there seemed the possibility that Jones might catch Joe with something big and put him to sleep, but we ain’t seen ‘RJ’ in a great many years.

This was another good win for Joe Calzaghe. What does he do next? There are still some big money fights out there for him if he wants them but there’s also the prospect of retiring undefeated, having beaten a handful of the best in the business and riding off into the sunset, health and wealth in tow.

For Jones, he still has some serious unfinished business with Bernard Hopkins. Now THAT is the fight Roy Jones Jr. should consider before he retires, only because without a Hopkins rematch, fans like me will always think he was afraid of the post 1990’s Executioner. It’s a fight fans definitely want to see, so if Roy is still up to it, Jones vs. Hopkins could make a lot of money and bring closure to what should have been a great rivalry once upon a time. Roy showed a ton of bravery Saturday night, if he thinks he can beat Hopkins , it can happen. Maybe we’ll see it on Pay Per View in about three years. Maalox and Geritol will co-promote the event.

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