The crowd said, 'Yes he can' when Roy Jones knocked Joe Calzaghe to the mat in the first.
The crowd said, 'Maybe he can’t' when Calzaghe got into gear, and started pecking away at Jones, while taking care to avoid the former four division champion’s counter rights.
And by the sixth round, just about everyone in the building at MSG said, 'There’s no way in Hell Roy Jones can pull an Obama-rama,' and hand The Prince of Wales his first loss as a pro.
After twelve rounds of stellar pugilism on Saturday evening in NYC, Joe Calzaghe took hold of, if not the top of the pound for pound rankings, at least No. 1A, with a master class in pugilism. His victim-student was Jones, and that was a sad irony, as Jones had done the schooling throughout his professional career, which began in 1989, and may have ended in New York. The judges didn't have to work hard, as Calzaghe made their call an easy one: the scores were 118-109, times three.
The grapevine is saying that some folks thought the fight could've been scored maybe 115-112. Not if you were in the building, it couldn't. And the stats speak loudly too: Calzaghe landed 344-985, while Jones landed 159-475. Even if you think Calzaghe should punch in a straight line more often, that volume disparity cannot be explained away.
Calzaghe entered the MSG ring with a 45-0 record. Jones’ mark was 52-4. Both men weighed 174 ½ pounds at the weigh in the day before the bout.
The vast, vast majority of the fans at MSG were pro Joe, but we got through the anthems with only a pocket of worry; some yahoos chanted “USA, USA” during the Wales anthem. The US anthem was well rendered and it sounded like there was an extra zest in the lungs of many who were still pleased by the election of Barack Obama. The pro Joe fanatics drowned out Michael Buffer’s intro of the Prince of Wales, and Jones himself added to the din as he clapped his gloved fists together.
ROUND BY ROUND
In the 12th, Joe was still busy. He stayed focus, danced some, and coasted to the win.
In the 11th, the blood stained Jones’ face, but he persevered, to the best of his diminished ability. Joe’s jabs kept the slice flowing, and his cardio reservoir kept his legs and hands in high gear.
In the 10th, Joe was on cruise control. He stayed smart, and goofed some but kept his eyes peeled for a Jones sneaky quick hit. The doctor looked real hard at Jones’ eye, which didn’t stop bleeding.
In the ninth, we weren’t sure if Jones would come out as that cut was lurid. He did. The blood still trickled as the coagulant didn’t work. Where’s Stitch Duran?? Joe played it smart in this round, doing enough to win it, but not getting so close that he might eat a Hail Mary.
In the eighth, the blood still trickled on Jones’ eye. He made Jones look like a Golden Glover at times, as he rained shots, Slappy Joe specials, on the Floridian.
In the seventh, Joe’s ring generalship was the story. He didn’t get close enough for Roy to spring a trap on him. Roy had a cut on his left eyelid, and the possibility of a stoppage became real. Calzaghe was still spry, still moving his head and hands in effective fashion. It was from a butt, it looked like.
In the sixth, Joe used that jab to maintain a safe distance. He smelled whenever Jones was readying a counter and stepped back, smartly. Jones wanted to land that quick lead right, but Joe was wise to it. A Jones right uppercut was his best punch of the round, but it would not be enough to steal it.
In the fifth, we wondered if Jones would go for a Plan B. He got more aggressive in fact, and landed some lead rights. Joe dropped his hands and hammered away, and Jones ate far too many shots to win the round.
In the fourth, Joe grinned as he postured. He got Jones with a flurry on the ropes and played the predator. He stalked patiently, and Jones hit him with two shots that had Joe mock-wobble, indicating that he wasn’t hurt. Joe was as confident as could be; would he get overconfident?
In the third, we wondered if Joe would defend against counter rights better. It was a special round. Joe pecked away, as Roy took time off, basically engaging in a center ring rope-a-dope. Calzaghe was in command, fully, and probably took a two point round.
In the second, Joe windmilled. Then he got Roy on the ropes, and paused to leer at him. Joe ate another right, and his nose again trickled. Joe probably won the round, with volume.
In the first, Joe poked with a jab to the body. But Jones won the round with a knockdown, via a right uppercut. Joe had a cut on his nose that didn’t look horrible. Joe’s handspeed looked on.
Zab Judah got it done, in a fashion, in the main undercard attraction. He beat Ernest Johnson in a welterweight beef. In the first round, both fighters sniffed each other out. In round two, Judah got busier and then busier still in the third. It was clear he wanted this to go awhile, to shed some rust. Judah wore cuts over both eyes, from butts; they were attended to after the third, but both trickled immediately in the fourth. Johnson looked to land lead rights, while Judah put him off with jabs in the fifth. Johnson was a pretty slick character, not easy to tag. Was he the right guy to choose if you want to showcase Judah at 140? By the eighth most anybody in the building had to be hoping real hard that the main event was a barnburner, because this undercard was putrid if, say, you paid $1500 to sit ringside. Heck, even if you paid $150 to sit a quarter mile away. Judah sat down on his shots in the ninth, and the crowd reacted. Why wasn’t he doing more of this? He didn’t follow through in the tenth, so we went to the cards: 98-92, 98-92, 98-91, Judah. Looking on the bright side, he got some work in. But again, if I’d paid for this sparring sesh….c’mon, promoters, when are you going to start giving value for the money!!!
Frankie Figueroa met Emanuel Augustus in a welterweight scrap. The lefty Figgy landed straight rights on Gus in the first. Augustus, who is now calling himself The Drunken Master, didn’t dip too much into his bizarre bag o’ tricks through three. He was in focused mode, but then again, this was early, and he tends to get screwy later in the fight. In the eighth, Gus landed some shots, and it was clear that he wouldn’t be deteriorating into clown mode. Bad news for Figgy (20-2, 13 KOs). Both guys did some good work from the outside in the eighth. The judges tallied their cards and called Figgy the winner, by scores of 75-77, 77-75 (F), 77-75 (F). Augustus (37-30) didn’t beef too heartily at the split decision loss. The two fighters walked hand in hand around the ring after, trying to elicit some love from the crowd. The crowd wasn’t all that into it, as the scrap lacked much in the drama department.
Dmitriy Salita took on Derrick Campos in a junior welterweight tussle. One wonders when or if Salita will step it up? Will his first legit step up bout be a title shot?
In the third, Salita got caught with a wakeup call jab/right follow. Salita knew he was in a fight then, and in the next round, when the Kansan trapped him in a corner and whaled away. Salita won some respect back with four straight left hooks to the body in the fourth. When Salita let Campos inside, he paid for it, repeatedly. When he won the distance battle, Salita was in good shape.
But in the seventh, he got caught on the ropes, and darnit, if Campos were a bigger hitter, he would’ve stopped The Star of David. Both men deserve props for expending maximum energy; neither coasted, though Campos’ mouth hung open noticeably in the 10th, and he often threw a single shot and then clutched. Campos had his mouthpiece smacked out in the 11th. Salita blasted him with clean left hooks, and Campos barely budged. In case you didn’t know, Salita’s power isn’t one of his strong suits. Both men landed left hooks in the 12th that jazzed the crowd. The fans gave both men a nice hand at the close. By the way, if Salita has a large fan base, the bulk of them stayed home. The judges weighed in and saw it 117-111, 120-108, 115-113, for Salita. That 120-108 card was submitted by Robin Taylor.
Junior middleweight Danny Jacobs looked solid as oak in taking out Jimmy Campbell at 2:59 of the third. Campbell took a mandatory eight, and then ref Danny Schiavone made a judgment call in letting him continue. That decision tipped in the direction of terrible when Jacobs smashed the loser with about 25 unanswered shots before the ref saw fit to step in. NYSAC chief Melvina Lathan, IMO, needs to have a little session with Schiavone to discuss the concept of “better too early than too late.”
Daniel Edouard got the job done against Al Williams (10-5) in a middleweight tiff. This was a well matched bout; neither man stood as being a cut above. Edouard (19-2-2) landed some hard left hooks, and impressed the judges enough to get the UD8.
Dominick Guinn (30-6) did nothing, I’m afraid, to launch himself back into contender status. He won a UD8 over a severely corpulent Gabe Brown (18-9). Brownie rolls at about 350 but doesn’t hit that hard.
Zab’s bro Joseph Judah went to 4-0, as he steamrolled Rich Heath (3-10) in the first of a junior middleweight scrap.
Pensecolan Kieyon Bussy, a FOR (friend of Roy’s) rose to 5-0 with a UD4 over Hassan Wasswa (5-8-2).
SPEEDBAG Those of you who bought the show know that Max Kellerman worked with Jim Lampley and Manny Steward. I saw Max and shook his hand. He proudly showed me his iPhone, which displayed a photo of one Esther Kellerman, who entered the world three days ago. She hit the scales at 7 ½ pounds, and Max said his missus took care of business in near record time.
—Fans were tortured by a scary rap medley by three youngsters who came out after the Bussy bout. To say the performance wasn’t a thriller would be an understatement. They are named “3D” and one ‘em was supposedly Roy’s son. Maybe he got the good genes for boxing?
—After round nine of the Judah fight someone in press row said to me, “I shoulda brought a book.”
—The Boxing Writers Association held a meeting before the big show. Looks like Jack Hirsch and Joe Santoloquito will face off to replace outgoing president Bernard Fernandez, who finished Tim Graham’s term when Graham began covering the NFL solely. I’ve figured out, after a couple of years, that administrator Gina Andriolo is the real powerbroker in the org. Figures, the woman is the one that makes the trains run on time. No, Bernie has done a tremendous job. His are not easy shoes to fill.
—Ringsider Gerry Cooney got a solid hand when hailed by the emcee.
—Newsday’s Mark LaMonica said Judah would win by KO in the fifth. He sat behind me and I said I’d write that. Really, I shouldn’t have given in, seeing as LaMonica back in 2002-2003 cruelly referred to me as “Mikey Mothballs” when I was sent down to the minors, to handle agate and such.
—NYC area fight fans, check out Jerson Ravelo in action on Nov. 19. The 18-3 hitter will fight 9-0 Alex Perez at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, NJ. Call 201-988-0008 for tix info.