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Calzaghe And Hopkins Flirted For Years

BY Michael Woods ON January 22, 2008
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So Calzaghe and Hopkins is gonna happen, huh?

I must admit, I am not overly enthused.

No offense to the combatants, I just think Hopkins cannot muster the energy needed to fend off the ultra-bust Welshman. And c’mon, this thing should have happened about five years ago.

You recall leading up to the Jones/Trinidad scrap, many fightwriters dismissed the scrap, stating that if anything, it should have taken place about a decade ago.

Never mind that the two men’s weight classes weren’t within spitting distance until now. Remember? Let’s refresh…Tito fought at 147 from 1993-1999. He fought at 154 in 2000, at 160 from 2001 to 2005. Yes, Jones has fought as low as 153 pounds (in 1991), but Tito was a neophyte pro at that time. From there Jones fought at 160 from late ’91 to ’93; at 168 until 1996; at 175, save for one heavyweight/cruiserweight outing in 2003, until this Saturday. When, exactly did people want Jones and Trinidad to get it on? Back in what day?

You may be hearing the same argument from fightwriters moving forward. There may be some sqwuawking to the effect of “Why didn’t the Calzaghe/Hopkins fight happen when both men were closer to their prime?”

Well, it’s hard to make a compelling argument that the soon-to-be 36-year-old Calzaghe is not still in the prime of his athletic life, judging from the bulk of his work the last two years.

It’s easier to swallow the notion that Hopkins, at 43, is not in his prime as a boxer. He is 43, fer chrissakes, so there’s no shame in some slippage. His work rate has slipped noticeably from his most fertile period, from 1997-2001.

It made some sense for Calzaghe to meet Hopkins, purely from a common sense perspective, from around the time Calzaghe beat Chris Eubank, in 1997. Both unbeaten, a mere eight pounds separating them in class. And it’s not like the 160 pound class at that time was chock full of Hall of Famers for Hopkins to tangle with.

The fight almost went down in 2004, and there was a $2.5 million offer on the table to Hopkins, who rejected it. Calzaghe and Warren scrambled to plug in a foe for the date saved for Hopkins, and Calzaghe wound up downing Armenian Mger Mrktchian (TKO7) and giving the Hopkins romance a rest. Calzaghe and Hopkins had been flirting for much of 2002, and 2003 too, so this ‘all flirt-no eff farce has been unfolding for a looong spell.

Calzaghe was still not a true household name in the States, though, save for the hardcore fight fan, until he beat Jeff Lacy in 2006. From that point on, it made sense for the Welshman to meet Hopkins, who by that point was showing a true willingness to move up in weight to widen the scope of his choices of foes. He jumped up from his familiar 160 pound neighborhood to 175 when he took on Antonio Tarver in June 2006.

The flirting resumed in earnest last year, after Calzaghe target Jermain Taylor crashed and burned, and now it looks like we will see the act. It’s booked for April 19, at the Thomas and Mack Center, outside of Calzaghe’s home turf, as Hopkins has always wanted. I will not see this as a done deal until the fighters are in the ring, the Anthem has been played, and a descendent of Fan Man hasn’t parachuted into the ring.

Bottom line is, this fight would have made more sense when they first started flirting, in 2002. But in boxing, as in romance, things often don’t go as planned.

SPEEDBAG You guys mad pumped for the April 12th Showtime card? Chad Dawson versus Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver against Clinton (No Relation) Woods, pretty solid doubleheader. Top Rank won’t put Cotto in with Alfonso Gomez the same night in AC, will they?

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