What goes around...
by Ben Dirs - BBC Sport (U1657561) 20 April 2008
The accepted wisdom is that Las Vegas is immune to economic downturns: when the economy booms, people come to Vegas to splash their cash. When the economy dips, people still come to Vegas to try to recoup their losses.
Sly Stallone, as he had done at the weigh-in, raised his arms as the chants of “Rocky!” rained down upon himDan Rafael of ESPN simply wrote: “It was very close, a difficult fight to score.”
But that’s what boxing’s all about, opinions, and it was mine that Hopkins, although throwing significantly fewer punches, landed the cleaner shots throughout and did enough in the first half of the fight to squeak a narrow decision.
Not that Calzaghe will care one jot about the views of an army of breathless hacks. He rallied superbly well from a stunning early knockdown and never stopped punching all the way to the finish line, and it’s that that won him the fight.
I’m not sure who Simon Cowell thought had won it, but has there ever been a more surreal sight than the prim pop impresario and Andrew Lloyd-Webber sat ringside at a Vegas fight? Think Hinge and Bracket crowd-surfing at an Anthrax gig and you’re getting somewhere close.
Jay-Z was also there, as were Beyonce, Whitney, Chris Tucker, Peter Sampras, Sugar Ray, Bruce and big Arnie Schwarzenegger, proving, up close, to not be as big as I thought he’d be.
Sly Stallone, as he had done at the weigh-in, raised his arms as the chants of “Rocky!” rained down from the crowd, and he must be in good nick to do that - it looked like he was wearing a couple of diamond-encrusted tiaras round each wrist.
As most had predicted, it wasn’t the prettiest of fights
Catherine Zeta-Jones, meanwhile, came draped in a Welsh flag, and it was the two Welsh icons, Tom and Zeta-Jones, who drew the biggest cheers of the night. Cowell, on the other hand, was showered with boos, and probably a fair bit of phlegm, when his entrance was announced.
Cat Deeley was also there, and by God was she holding the Brit end up, while I was sat next to Brandy’s mum for the duration of the fight, which might have been exciting for me, if I had known beforehand that Brandy is a Grammy Award-winning R&B star.
Tom Jones was given the job of belting out Mae Hen Wlad Nhadau, and at one point I thought Brandy’s mum was going to cry, before the Calzaghe fans proved themselves to be a lot less naughty than Ricky Hatton’s were before his fight with Floyd Mayweather last December by giving maximum respect to the Star Spangled Banner.
There must have been a 70-30 split in favour of Calzaghe fans at the Thomas & Mack, and I thought that Brandy's skirt - not the biggest - might come off when Calzaghe made his entrance, such was the blood-curdling reception.
Hopkins was greeted much like Cowell, except with perhaps slightly less venom, before the bell for the first round sounded and Calzaghe started making history.
Audley Harrison provided the chief support, and his fight was a microcosm of his entire career
As most had predicted, it wasn’t the prettiest of fights - Hopkins doesn’t do ‘pretty’ fights - and observers had to make the call when the final bell rang: the cleaner, crisper punches of Hopkins, or the sheer work-rate of Calzaghe.
The judges went for Calzaghe and, with that, Ordinary Joe had cemented his place in boxing history: one of the boxing greats, perhaps Britain’s finest fighter of the modern era and a decent claim to being Wales’s greatest ever sportsman.
At the post-fight news conference, Hopkins, still maintaining he had won the fight as he exited stage left, had to suffer Calzaghe barking behind him: “You lost to a white man, man! You lost to a white man…” What goes around very often comes around in the brutal world of boxing.
PS. Audley Harrison provided the chief support, and his fight was a microcosm of his entire career. Audley, fighting for the first time since being knocked out by Michael Sprott last February, was cheered into the ring by the British contingent and booed throughout the rest of the fight.
For all the pre-fight chat, nothing seems to have changed much for Audley, who needed five rounds to get rid of American journeyman Jason Barnett, who looked to be about half the Londoner’s size.
When the ringcard girls are getting bigger cheers than you between the rounds, you surely know you must be doing something wrong.
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