Saturday night wasn’t just another fight for Joe Calzaghe—it may have been his last fight. It wasn’t held in just any venue—it was in Madison Square Garden. And the opponent wasn’t just any fighter—he was Roy Jones Jr. For only the second time in his 46-bout professional career, the undefeated Welshman traveled to the United States looking to add another notch on his belt.
Earlier this year, on April 29th, Calzaghe ventured across the Atlantic for the first time, winning a split decision over Bernard Hopkins to win the Ring Magazine light heavyweight title—one legend down, one to go.
Now only six months later he was back in the States, at the Garden, looking for one more career-validating victory over another boxing giant. This time his sights were set on eight-time, four-weight champion Roy Jones Jr.
The fight had been rumored for almost a decade before the two boxers finally made it happen, negotiating the terms themselves via text message exchanges. It was Roy Jones Jr. who actually wanted the fight, viewing it as a way to eradicate the speculation that he was officially washed up at 39 years old.
The fight made sense for Jones, considering a win over Calzaghe would indeed show the boxing world that the former champ could climb the mountain one final time.
Calzaghe was already on top of the mountain. As one of the most decorated boxers in British history, all Calzaghe wanted was one more boxing legend added to his ledger. One more trip to the U.S. so people wouldn’t claim the Hopkins fight was a one-time deal. One more big payday.
This was the perfect way for Joe “Pride of Wales” Calzaghe to go out. Beat Roy Jones Jr. at Madison Square Garden, and then walk off into the sunset, as so few have been able to do—as an undefeated champion—46-0.
Two great fighters coming together, for their own reasons, and making things simple: I want to fight you, you want to fight me…ok let’s fight! What a refreshing thing to see in a Don King and Bob Arum crazed boxing world.
The beginning and end of the Hopkins and Jones fights were eerily similar. Both times Calzaghe was knocked down in the first round, and both times Calzaghe regrouped to win on points. Though he was more dominant in the Jones fight, winning by unanimous decision, compared to his split decision in the Hopkins fight, the result was all the same. His record remained perfect.
So now what? Where does Joe Calzaghe go from here?
Enter: Chad Dawson.
Boxing purists see one final option, and it does not include riding off into the sunset, at least not yet. The clamoring has already begun for Calzaghe to fight Chad Dawson, the current IBO and IBF light heavyweight champion. Dawson is 26 years old, a perfect 27-0, and is climbing up the best pound-for-pound-fighter-in-the-world list with every fight.
Aside from being the only worthy fighter remaining in Calzaghe’s era, he also happens to be the mandatory challenger for his Ring Magazine light heavyweight title.
To his credit, Max Kellerman didn’t let Calzaghe leave the ring Saturday night without asking about a potential showdown with Dawson. As is usual in post-fight interviews, Calzaghe was noncommittal.
“There’s always someone young coming through,” Calzaghe said. “It was the same with Kessler.”
At the post-fight press conference it was once again an unavoidable issue.
"I just stepped out of the ring about 15 minutes ago, man," Calzaghe said. "Let me enjoy this fight before I think about fighting anybody else. What do you think I am? A sadist? Let me chill for a week or so. But Chad Dawson is a good fighter, a good fighter."
So why should Calzaghe fight Dawson? Hasn’t his legacy already been confirmed by cleaning out the super middleweight division? Winning the light heavyweight belt? By beating Hopkins and Jones? Hasn’t he done enough?
I guess the answer is Yes, if Calzaghe is at peace with knowing that he didn’t beat everybody. If he is OK leaving the sport with unfinished business. If he wants to answer the following question for the rest of his life: Why didn’t you fight Chad Dawson?
It certainly wouldn’t be a case of the old man getting thrown to the young wolf. In fact, the majority of people would probably say that Calzaghe would beat Dawson. All you need to do is think back to Saturday night, with Calzaghe as terrific as ever. Many would argue that there’s nobody in his class, including Chad Dawson.
Of course, Chad Dawson would argue that point. In a statement released directly following Saturday night’s fight, Dawson has his own idea on how Calzaghe should end his career.
"If Joe wants to have his grand farewell in Wales, I am ready to accommodate. My passport and world title belts are ready to travel across the pond. I'm ready to give Joe the opportunity to draw the curtain on his great career in front of his family and friends and 70,000 fans. It's the best fight in the light heavyweight division between two undefeated champions."
Everybody agrees that Joe Calzaghe is a great fighter. The reason he should fight Chad Dawson is simple—to cement his status as a legendary fighter, and to cement his legacy as a champion who fought every legitimate adversary of his time.
All he needs to do now is whip out his cell phone, shoot Dawson a text and let the negotiations begin.