An Early Preview

By Tom Donelson
Updated: October 21, 2008

IOWA CITY — Joe Calzaghe faces Roy Jones in a Madison Square main event coming in November and while both fighters are past 35 and Jones is close to 40; this is an intriguing fight.

Calzaghe is closer to his peak and not far removed from his masterpiece against Mikkel Kessler. While he beat Hopkins, it could easily be said that he outlasted Hopkins and out worked him but it was not a masterpiece.

Hopkins’ right sent Calzaghe down in the first round and the younger Calzaghe had more energy in the later rounds to pull out the bout.

As for Jones, he was at his peak when he defeated John Ruiz for the Heavyweight division but since 2004, he has not been the fighter that dominated the light heavyweight division in the 90’s and the early part of this decade.

The magic started to disappear when he barely eked out a victory over Tarver and a subsequent second round knockout by Tarver ended the legacy. After that, Glen Johnson roughed Jones over and one more lost to Tarver in their rubber match sent him back to the fighting lower ranked fighters before one big money fight with Felix Trinidad.

The light heavyweight division is full of young stars like Chad Dawson and old veterans like Hopkins but for the moment, Joe Calzaghe is the king of the Light heavyweight hill due to his victory over Bernard Hopkins.

Calzaghe has combined power and speed; a classic boxer puncher. Fighting behind a classic one two right jab, left cross from a southpaw stance, he often overwhelm opponents with volume of punches with occasional power punch.

At his peak, Jones could be unorthodox in his own way as he often eschewed the left jab for a straight right or left hook, much like Ali did in his peak. He depended upon speed and skills but as age removed the speed; his unorthodoxy proved to be his undoing.

Whereas fighters like Hopkins and Toney proved competitive against elite fighters at later part of their career, Jones found himself knock out victims to Tarver and Johnson.

So what does this all portend for their bout?

Good question and on paper, Calzaghe should be the favorite but after last week upset by Hopkins, this is not a certainty. His advantage is that he will be taller and has enough speed to compete with the older Jones.

Jones looked impressive against Trinidad, but Felix is a natural middleweight if not a better junior middleweight. While Jones’ power looked impressive; but this was against a smaller fighter.

As a southpaw, Calzaghe could be vulnerable to the quick straight right hand, which Jones threw with nasty efficiency at his peak. In the 90’s, Jones ate southpaws up with his straight right often thrown in place of a jab as his first punch but Antonio Tarver proved the antidote to a more older Jones.

For Jones, the right is the key as this punch can neutralized Calzaghe. As for Calzaghe, he can repeat what Tarver did. Tarver used his height and jab to set up his own straight left.

When Tarver knocked Jones out, his left hit Jones before he could counter the southpaw with a left hook. Calzaghe is quicker than Tarver and this is his major advantage.

Calzaghe spent much of his time fighting in Wales and many pundits failed to appreciate his professionalism or skills. He was the best Super Middleweight no one knew about.

He got his due recognition when he splattered Lacy and then defeated Kessler. His victory over Hopkins may not have been impressive but as Pavlik found out; Hopkins still has the talent left and can still beat elite fighters.

Hopkins often still confuses his opponent with wily skills punctuated by years in the ring. Jones has the power to beat Calzaghe, but he is closer to his peak and should win.