By: Phil Santos
Joe Calzaghe survived a first round knockdown and boxed his way to a split decision win over Bernard Hopkins to become the Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Campion. Hopkins floored Calzaghe with a stiff right hand in the first but lost some steam as the fight progressed.
Calzaghe is credited with landing more punches against Bernard Hopkins than any other fighter during a comp-u-box fight. After rising off the canvas Calzaghe steadily increased his work rate throughout the fight. While the heavier punches were clearly coming from the Executioner it was Calzaghe that landed the higher volume and showed steady aggression.
To say that Hopkins vs. Calzaghe was an amazing fight would be a slight exaggeration, it was entertaining however, which is more that can be said for many Hopkins fights. I had no idea how this fight could be crowd pleasing. With Calzagheâ€™s slap happy lack of knockout power and Hopkins 1-2 then hold on, mugging style of fighting how could this make for a fan friendly event?
Well somehow they made it happen. They exchanged blows in numerous exchanges with Calzaghe getting the better, however slightly, over Hopkins. The seemingly ageless Hopkins had begun to look every one of his 43 years. Bernard fought through two low blows, which he took his time to recover from, and gave Calzaghe problems early but as the fight entered the later stages it became obvious that his reflexes were no longer as quick as the 35 year old Pride of Wales.
With the win Joe Calzaghe remains flawless improving to 45-0 (32). He now lays claim to the Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Championship and Super Middleweight Championship. More importantly Calzaghe now has the signature victory, over a Hall of Fame fighter, on US soil. This fight secures Calzaghe’s spot a one of the best fighters of this generation and perhaps, depending on his fighting future, lands him in the conversation of best pound for pound fighters of all-time.
For Hopkins the future is his to decide. His resume is stacked with marquee wins including Trinidad, De La Hoya and Winky and if he walked away from boxing now he would surely be remembered as a great champion. If his decision is to fight on there would be plenty of offers and eager opponents lining up for a crack at B-Hop. A Tarver or Roy Jones rematch would certainly sell and even another meeting between Hopkins and Jermain Taylor would be interesting. With no lack of options it is probably in his best interest to walk away now before his age catches up to him in the form of an ugly defeat. The loss drops Hopkins to 48-5-1 (32).