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What goes around...

Light heavy
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Calzaghe v Hopkins, Las Vegas, Nevada

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.

But the news this week that MGM-Mirage, the largest casino operator on the Vegas Strip, is to terminate 400 management positions, saving the company $75m annually, was proof that nothing in Sin City is indestructible.

Except, it would seem, Wales’s Joe Calzaghe, who extended his undefeated record to 45 fights with a tooth and nail victory over Bernard Hopkins in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A quick scan of 606 reveals that some people would like me to resign on the back of my belief that Hopkins nicked the fight.

All I would say to that is, if every journalist who picked him to win it handed in their notice tomorrow, the press row would be reduced by about a third come the next big fight.

Indeed, the BBC boxing team would cease to exist, the Five Live trio of Mike Costello, Duke McKenzie and Ron McIntosh all calling the fight for the American.

And consider the words of the reporter from The Associated Press: “Judge Adalaide Byrd gave it 114-113 to Hopkins, as did many reporters at ringside – including The Associated Press, despite Calzaghe’s dominance in the final five rounds.”

Sly Stallone, as he had done at the weigh-in, raised his arms as the chants of “Rocky!” rained down upon him
Dan 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.

Latest 10 comments

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comment by tgizza (U5600269)

posted Last Week

I was at the fight & thought on the night Calzaghe "nicked" the fight by a point, whereas watching it when I got home, could only come up with "draw" Calzaghe hit Hopkins with Punches but not cleanly (because of the style of Hopkins more than anything) & Hopkins did hit Calzaghe with clean punches, but not enough...oh I am jetlagged by the way...

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posted 6 Days Ago

I thought Calzaghe getting the decision in Vegas, without a body as evidence, was less likely than winning sports personality of the year. The american TV must have been looking forward to another superfight payday. BH is old news. He should have fought Calzaghe years ago instead of skipping Super Middle.

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posted 6 Days Ago

I thought that hopkins fought a very good fight. He always looks bad, but very affective. styles make fights and hopkins is a southpaw specialist. for all things things he has lost, he has gained in the art of winning fight with rough tactics.

If he was in his prime he would have fought the type of fight that joe prefers and that is straight up boxing.

All this rubbish about an over the hill 43 year old is just an excuse from the jc haters.

Hopkins is p4p no. 2-6 in every major ranking before the fight and came off 2 big wins at light-heavy.

joe went to his backyard, first time at light heavy and beat him. it didn't look preety but the class showed in the end.

you can't give hopkins a round just for throwing 1 straight right.

i gave it 115-112 calzaghe as you have to give him the close rounds because he landing more punches.

he out punched hopkins in every round, so the only rounds a gave to hopkins were the ones where i thought he hurt joe.

he landed more punches on this legend then any other fighter hopkins has faced, which is a great achievment.

Pavlik would be a great fight, but sorry he would get out boxed by joe all day.

calzaghe can make adjustments during a fight to beat his opponents. pavliks fights with one style. it would go the same way as kessler.

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posted 6 Days Ago

With one judge giving it 116-111 - thats nine to three rounds - its pretty conclusive. Hopkins lost, and lost comfortably in my book. He didn't come to win the fight.
At 43 it was an outstanding performance, but Calzaghe is a not an ordinary fighter, especially with 11 years unbeaten at the top. He outpunched and outfought Hopkins.
But Hopkins came out with his dignity intact, which is all he deserved, and a lucrative retirement ahead with Golden Boy Promotions.
Calzaghe came away with the Ring title, the plaudits, and his unbeaten record intact.
Everyone's a winner!

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posted 5 Days Ago

What fight were you watching Ben? What nonsense, Hopkins looked all of his 43 and if I understand African American fighters, he looked more like 45, his real age.
Replay round 10, at the end Hopkins looks weathered, he tries to smile but it is half hearted. Joe beat him , reminiscent of the Sugar Ray Leonard v Marvin Hagler. No respecting boxing fan will deny Hopkins' ability to put Joe on his ass. Joe was smart, deservedly boxing his way to victory. As for you Ben, start writing about synchronized swimming or some other non contact sport. Your take on the fight reflects ignorance, arrogance and some sublime Welsh hatred.

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posted 5 Days Ago

ian... in what way reminiscent of hagler leonard?

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posted 2 Days Ago

comment by MuteAssassin (U5674668)
posted 6 Days Ago

Couldn't see the fight so perhaps I shouldn't comment.

But on past experience, if an American fights a foreigner, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, with an American referee and three American judges, and the foreigner wins on points... then he must have won it pretty damn convincingly.

Well done, that white boy........................................................................

You've hit the nail on the head mate. applause

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posted 2 Days Ago

If people don`t like Ben Dirs stuff, nothing is stopping them writing their own articles freelance and selling them to websites.

I prefer his work on the test matches to on the boxing but it is all entertaining enough.

I disagree with his analysis personally, but would probably go to www.secondsout.com for my serious boxing news and opinion anyway.

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posted 15 Hours Ago

I watched BBC 2's re-run of the fight on Sunday and I want to change my scorecard.

In my drunken state I had Joe winning by 115-113 but having watched it with a clear head I realised that it was nowhere near as close as that, Joe won it by at least was at least 4 points, 116-112...ok

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