Roy Jones Jr., in the midst of a career resurrection that would make Lazarus proud, takes on Joe Calzaghe of Wales on Saturday night in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, the Mecca for boxing. This fight that has been almost nine years in the making.
Jones, who lost via knockout in back to back fights in 2004 to Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson, has taken a measured, deliberate trail back to this position. He beat two lesser opponents in Prince Badi Ajamu Anthony Hanshaw before stepping back onto the big stage with a relatively easy victory over Felix Trinidad.
Joe Calzaghe is undefeated at 45-0 and is looking to add another Hall of Fame name to his already impressive list of victories.
Calzaghe, who earlier in the year was recognized by many pundits as the Super Middle Weight Champion of the World and the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World, is coming off of a victory in April over Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins.
On a somewhat related note, Hopkins schooled reigning Middle Weight Champion Kelly Pavlik three weeks ago this Saturday in Atlantic City. Pavlik had been mentioned as a possible opponent for Calzaghe this fall.
The fight on Saturday is being billed as the "Battle of the Superpowers." While this may be a bit of promotion hyperbole, it’s actually not far off the mark. Roy Jones was the mythical pound-for-pound champion for years; Joe Calzaghe currently ranks in the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world. This fight is a battle of two boxing legends.
As for the fight itself, I expect to see them feel each other out in the early rounds, like a tactical chess match. As in his fight with Trinidad, I believe Roy Jones will start cautiously until he gets a real sense of Joe Calzaghe’s power. If and when Jones deems it insufficient, he’ll pick up his punch output and start putting together combinations.
However, Calzaghe should not be underestimated. He has tremendous hand speed and is a very slick boxer who can punch with both hands and comes at opponents with odd angles. Besides all of the tangibles that I just mentioned, Joe simply doesn’t know how to lose.
This fight is as close to a toss-up as they get, but I believe that it will be Roy Jones’ superior hand speed that will be the difference in the fight. Jones, who isn’t nearly as fleet-of-foot as he used to be, still possesses blazing quickness with his punches.
In the end I expect to see a masterpiece of a fight between two of boxing’s most skilled artisans. Jones vs. Calzaghe is a fight that is sure to thrill die-hard and casual boxing fans alike.