Glenn Reynolds once noted that he has a great wife; I do too, as evidenced most recently by her willingness to spend part of her birthday evening watching a light-heavyweight title bout. We previewed the fight between undefeated Welshman Joe Calzaghe and the ageless and indestructible Bernard Hopkins here.
The fight turned out to be a good one, with too much clutching and grabbing to be considered great. But there was plenty of drama. A minute into the first round, Hopkins, the underdog, decked Calzaghe with a right for the bout’s only knockdown. So Calzaghe was playing catch-up against a champion who, although 43 years old, was in great condition and used every trick in the book.
Calzaghe controlled the action throughout with his relentless style, and eventually wore Hopkins down. In the tenth, Hopkins took advantage of an inadvertent, not-particularly-low blow to get a breather that lasted for several minutes, as he limped around the ring in well-simulated pain. Hopkins, who needed the rest badly, tried the same trick in the eleventh, but the referee didn’t bite.
In the end, Calzaghe won a split decision that shouldn’t have been as close as two of the judges had it. Hopkins deserves great credit for his savvy, tough performance, but it’s hard to see how a judge can vote to award the fight to a boxer who is outpunched 232-127, as measured by CompuPunch.
The fight’s aftermath was marred by Hopkins’ rather graceless insistence that he won the fight easily and made Calzaghe look like an “amateur,” but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the many Wales natives in attendance, including Tom Jones, who sang the Welsh national anthem, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. This account in a Welsh paper is a partisan but fair account of the fight.
PAUL adds: With this victory plus Cardiff’s City participation in the FA Cup final, this may turn out to be the year of the Welsh.