In-Depth Preview: Joe Calzaghe vs. Roy Jones Jr.

Joe Calzaghe

Birthplace: Hammersmith, England
Height: 5' 11"
Reach: 73"
Current Titles Held: Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight (175 lbs.)
Former Titles Held: WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO Super Middleweight (168 lbs.)
Professional Record: 45-0, 32 KO's.
Record in World Title Fights: 23-0, 11 KO's
Record at 175 lbs.: 1-0
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 12-0

Notable Wins: SD12 Bernard Hopkins, UD12 Mikkel Kessler, UD12 Jeff Lacy
Notable Losses: None

Roy Jones Jr.

Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida
Height: 5' 11"
Reach: 74"
Current Ttiles Held: None
Former Titles Held: IBF Middleweight (160 lbs.), IBF Super Middleweight (168 lbs.), WBC, WBA, IBF, IBO Light Heavyweight (175 lbs.), WBA Heavyweight
Professional Record: 52-4, 38 KO's
Record in World Title Fights: 23-4, 14 KO's
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 12-1

Notable Wins: UD12 John Ruiz, KO1 Montell Griffin, UD12 Bernard Hopkins
Notable Losses: KO9 Glen Johnson, TKO2 Antonio Tarver, DQ9 Montell Griffin


Add this to the list of "dream fights" for boxing fans which would be just a little bit more interesting if both participants were in their respective primes.

The undefeated Calzaghe seems closer to his, coming off a razor thin yet no less impressive decision over Bernard Hopkins. He got up off the canvas in that bout and also shook off some difficult moments in his previous fight against Mikkel Kessler, both times showing a rare ability to adapt on the fly.

Jones clearly isn't the same boxer in 2008 as he was prior to 2004, when his air of invincibility was shattered by consecutive starchings at the hands of Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. His last three outings have been better though, and he's sporting a new, more carefree attitude that could serve him well.

If Jones can summon up enough of his old magic at age 39, there's no reason this couldn't be a barnburner. Despite his obvious skill, Calzaghe has really only stepped up his level of competition in the last two or three years, and Saturday will be just his second fight in the United States. Neither man should be short on motivation, with Calzaghe wishing to leave the sport with an unblemished record and Jones eyeing a very lucrative rematch with old rival Hopkins.

The hand speed of both boxers allows for fast flurries that dazzle even if they don't land clean. And since neither fighter has shown an abundance of KO power as of late - Calzaghe, especially, has been derided as a slapper - this has the look of a crowd-pleasing contest with an excellent chance to go the distance.

Calzaghe's Winning Strategy: Keep Up the Pressure

Anyone who saw Calzaghe fight Jeff Lacy probably remembers that it looked like a really solid shot from his opponent that night might destroy him. Lacy never got a chance though, as Calzaghe pummeled him by continually getting off first and keeping the volume of punches flowing for 12 rounds.

The Pride of Wales has since shown that he doesn't necessarily have to fight that way to win, but it still might be his best bet against Jones. Roy's difficulties with Antonio Tarver and, to a lesser extent, Glen Johnson showed that at this stage of the game, he doesn't deal well with boxers who will keep leather in his face all night.

Calzaghe got caught and dropped by Hopkins early on, and Jones is more than capable of doing the same. The best way to avoid that is to beat Jones to the punch whenever possible.

If constant pressure isn't the way to go, Calzaghe should know within three or four rounds. Fortunately for him, few current fighters are better at identifying what's not working and coming up with a Plan B should the need arise.

Jones' Winning Strategy: Don't Live in the Past

Once upon a time, Jones was so physically gifted that he didn't need to fight with solid fundamentals to win. Some of his most spectacular KO's have come from sequences you'd never find taught at a gym.

If Jones forgets that he's no longer that fighter, he's in for a long night. Calzaghe has very fast hands, and inconceivable as it may have seemed back in the day, Roy's probably slower to the punch than his opponent.

What Jones does have is a lot more experience against championship-caliber foes. He has to have learned a lot from all of those rounds, and while he's not going to suddenly morph into a master technician, he'll need to employ all the lessons he's learned to hang the first 'L' on Calzaghe.

Also, while the stats say both men are built about the same, Jones' extended time at light heavyweight and above suggests he will be bigger and stronger than Calzaghe and may get the best of things in close.

Roy the bully? Now that would be something different than we're used to seeing from him, and in this case, different is better.

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