Weekend Wrap Up: Live Vegas Coverage Hopkins-Calzaghe
By John Novoselac at Ringside (April 23, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)  
In what was billed as the Battle for the Planet, the battle of the egos may have been more appropriate. Both Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe carry large loads of confidence and arrogance, and despite Hopkins losing the fight, his self-esteem certainly was not negatively impacted in the least.

As I arrived Friday afternoon at the weigh in, I knew I was once again in store for a rowdy weekend. The crowd of a couple thousand was clearly drenched in alcohol, as they awaited the arrival
of the Pride of Wales. If there were Hopkins fans there, it certainly was not apparent. After both scaling at 173, the standard face off led to a verbal barrage from Hopkins that left Calzaghe smiling, somewhat sheepishly, as his camp held him back. It seemed as though the Executioner may have gotten to Calzaghe, a little at least.

As I waited in the valet afterwards, I ran into Super Joe and asked him how he would deal with the potentially slow and dirty pace of the fight that Hopkins' bouts have often turned to. He was confident that referee Joe Cortez would take care of things and that his pace of 1,000 punches a fight would be too much for Hopkins to slow down. I asked whom he would like to fight next, and he mentioned Kelly Pavlik and Roy Jones. I suggested he should take Roy, both for the money, as well as the opportunity to face another old man. This garnered a chuckle from the Welshman, and he jumped in his SUV and drove off.

The crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center waited until the very last minute to arrive, and rightfully so. I watched bits and pieces of one of the worst
undercards I've ever seen for such a significant main attraction. Apparently Audley Harrison won in the co-main event. There were maybe 5,000 people there for that fight, and minutes later there were 14,213. Oddly enough, Jay Z was in attendance despite the fact that he was scheduled for a concert down the street at the MGM, to which he was obviously late in arriving. Hey, that's a boxing fan, blowing off work to see a fight.

The crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of Calzaghe, and the chants were in full effect. It was interesting to hear the difference as compared to the Hatton chants. As I mentioned this to the Welshman next to me, he said 'damn Mancunians, always causing trouble'. Okay, and away we go.

The first round saw Hopkins come out blitzing with straight rights to the body, and about a minute in, he caught Calzaghe with a flush straight right to the face that sent him down. Calzaghe rose and recovered quickly, but it appeared that it was going a very rough night for Super Joe.

Hopkins dictated a slower pace through the next few rounds behind some nice counter punching, holding, and hitting. The fight continued down the road that appeared to favor Hopkins, as the veteran’s moves led Joe Cortez to warn both fighters to abide by the rules in the 4th. It was around the 5th round that Calzaghe appeared to have made an adjustment, and he was also dealing well with the savvy tactics of the wily veteran Hopkins.

Calzaghe was making the Executioner work harder than anyone had in some time, and Hopkins looked to have been feeling the effects. Calzaghe had landed a couple of low shots earlier in the fight, but the one in the 10th was severe enough for Cortez to offer Hopkins a five-minute break. I felt that Cortez should have deducted a point at this time, but I think he was working as hard as he could not to take any points away, for what reason I have no clue. Hopkins recovered, and I felt he won the round.

The championship rounds were closely contested, and they were split with Hopkins winning the 11th and Calzaghe the 12th on all three judges' scorecards. I thought it was a very close fight and it could have gone either way, but a 5-point win was absurd. This writer scored it a draw.

CompuBox saw Calzaghe land 232 of 707, with 45 of 224 jabs, and 187 of 483 power shots. Hopkins landed 127 out of 468 thrown, with only 11 of 93 jabs, but 116 of 375 power shots, that were certainly far more powerful than Calzaghe's heaviest shots. CompuBox pointed out that out of 21 Hopkins fights that have been tracked, this was the most punches ever landed on Hopkins.

Post Fight Presser Notes

Calzaghe said he took nothing personal from Hopkins in his pre-fight antics, and said he had a difficult time with Hopkins’ style. Roy Jones was in attendance, and said that he didn't want to take any glory away from Calzaghe that night, but if he wanted to, they could get it on later. I asked whether Calzaghe would consider giving Hopkins a rematch, and he said, “Why?” “Well, it was a close fight,” I responded. Calzaghe wants to move on and I can't say I blame him for not wanting to get back in the ring with Hopkins.

Hopkins was late in arriving and Richard Schaeffer explained he was doing a photo shoot. Hopkins finally came in and was expectedly in disagreement with the decision. After he expressed this, he was in a hurry to leave. As the conversation veered towards anger, he wisely chose to exit.

Questions or comments,
John at: jnovoselac@yahoo.com

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