By Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
November 6, 2007
Joe Calzaghe may not be the best fighter in the world – in my humble opinion, that has been Floyd Mayweather Jr. for about the last seven years – but the Welshman isn't far from the top.
He was ranked No. 3 in the most recent Yahoo! Sports poll of the Top 10 fighters in the world and I suppose there's a chance that his performance against Mikkel Kessler on Saturday at a raucous Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, will bump him up a notch to No. 2 on that list.
I know he's going up on my list, replacing Manny Pacquiao in the second spot. Calzaghe is now 44-0 and has been dominant in his biggest fights.
One of the things that may get lost in Calzaghe's victory over Kessler in their super middleweight title unification bout on Saturday is how good Kessler is. Kessler is a superb boxer and I suppose you had to be sitting at ringside to appreciate how hard he was hitting.
That makes Calzaghe's performance that much more impressive.
I've gotten a lot of reaction to Calzaghe, plus plenty of anticipation for Saturday's WBA welterweight title fight on HBO Pay-Per-View between champion Miguel Cotto and challenger Shane Mosley at Madison Square Garden, so let's get to it.
As always, my answers are in italics below the questions.
GOOD CHIN ( "Calzaghe unifies super middleweight belts," Nov. 3.)
What fights has Joe Calzaghe shown a weak chin in? He's 44-0! Also, Calzaghe fighting Bernard Hopkins will be like when Lennox Lewis faced Mike Tyson – it will be one-way traffic.
I don't think it's fair to say he's shown a weak chin, but he's shown a vulnerable chin. He's been knocked down several times, but the point that needs to be made is that he's always gotten back up. Most impressively, he was knocked down by Byron Mitchell in the second round of their fight in 2003, but got up and stopped Mitchell in the same round. I'm very, very impressed by Calzaghe.
Having said that, it's naïve to believe a fight between Calzaghe and Hopkins would be anything close to the rout that Lewis-Tyson was. Calzaghe may win, but Hopkins will make it torture.
I simply hope the fight happens.
MORE CHIN MUSIC
Kevin, after the Kessler fight you wrote: “The quality of Calzaghe's chin had been questioned in the past because of several trips to the canvas. … " In your pre-fight breakdown, you rated his chin a 6. But isn't “chin” about your ability to take a clubbing and come back strong? Calzaghe has been down twice, to be exact. I'm not sure of the circumstances of the second time, when Kabry Salem decked him, but have you seen what happened to Byron Mitchell when he became the first to do it? Calzaghe shook it off, returned the favor, and then finished the fight – all within the same round. That's “chin!” As Kessler said after the fight: “When I put him under pressure I thought I would be OK. But he has such a good chin. I have got to give him that.”
Going into the fight, there was little doubt that Kessler was the hardest puncher he faced. And given that Calzaghe had been put down by Salem, who is not regarded as a hard puncher, it had to be a question.
But any questions were answered when Calzaghe took those vicious uppercuts and kept coming forward. I don't know how they came across on television, but sitting at ringside, you could feel the force of those blows.
To me, that answered any question about his chin forever. He'll get a much higher rating from me in that category next time, but I don't apologize for the rating pre-Kessler, because it was the one area he needed to prove.
NO KO OF PAVLIK
Calzaghe fought a great fight against Kessler, but as far as him saying he would knock out Kelly Pavlik, I doubt it. I'm sure you saw Pavlik's fight with Jermain Taylor and how he got up, survived and went on to win that fight after Taylor put him down early. I wouldn't bet either way on that fight. Pavlik is young, tough as they come and talented. Too bad boxing wasn't more like the NFL where every year each top team has to face the other top team in the playoffs and then moving on to the final showdown to declare the last one standing, champion.
Pavlik has a little business with Taylor to take care of before he thinks about facing Calzaghe. Pavlik will give Taylor, whom he knocked out in the seventh round of a great fight on Sept. 29 in Atlantic City, his contractually obligated rematch on Feb. 16 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View. That bout won't be for a title and will be contested at a catch weight of 166. If Pavlik gets past that, he can then move into the Calzaghe mix. My initial reaction to a Calzaghe-Pavlik match would be that Calzaghe has too many tools and would win a decision, but that's far from a slam dunk. It would be a great fight and, like you say, Carl, would be equivalent to boxing's version of an NFL playoff game.
One of the many reasons boxing has dropped in popularity is that too often the best fighters don't face each other, or they face each other on pay-per-view where they're seen by the smallest possible audience.
If someone put the money up for them to fight on free television, they'd do it. But the fighters generally believe they can make more money fighting on PPV than they can elsewhere.
The business model needs to change to lift the sport to the heights it used to enjoy, when it was one of the big three sports in the U.S., along with baseball and horse racing.
QUIT HIDING ( "Is Calzaghe-Hopkins up next?" Nov. 3.)
Now that punk Calzaghe wants to stop hiding in Europe and come to the U.S. to fight a (nearly) 43-year old Hopkins? Let me guess, he is hoping Hopkins gets old in the ring. You are too forgiving! This punk was hiding out in Europe all the time when Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney were in their primes and now they are washed up and he is suddenly brave.
Trevor, whatever you may think of Calzaghe's business decisions, he's no punk. He's a great guy and an excellent fighter. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but not all of the world's best fighters are either from the U.S. or exclusively fight in the U.S. It's hard to argue with his decisions much when you consider that in his last two fights, he's drawn 85,000 fans.
And it's hardly chasing an old man to want to fight Hopkins. He's the guy who routed Winky Wright and Antonio Tarver in his last two outings. Hopkins, who is ranked No. 4 in the most recent Yahoo! Sports poll, is plenty good.
Hey Kevin, great job as always covering boxing, but special thanks for covering Juan Manuel Marquez. I've been boxing as an amateur and to see the kinds of things that he can do in the ring technically is just jaw-dropping. In my opinion, he is the perfect fighter and he also showed a ton of heart in the Manny Pacquiao fight. I hope he can fulfill his potential in the last year or two he has left in his prime and can raise his profile to the levels of where Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales were, where I feel he deserves to be. Keep up the great work.
Marquez is no doubt one of the elite fighters in the world. He can brawl, when necessary, but he's a superb boxer, which is a rarity for fighters from his country (although a trend may be starting, because WBC super flyweight champion Cristian Mijares is also a wonderful boxer).
It's no slam dunk that Marquez will be offered the fight with Pacquiao. If he is, though, he must jump on it. He was offered a rematch in 2004 and declined, which put his career into a tailspin.
The big fights only come along so often. It's up to Marquez to make certain the fight happens.
TOO MUCH PRESSURE ( "Cotto is Mosley's last, best chance" Nov. 5.)
Everyone keeps talking about the body punches that Miguel Cotto may hit Shane Mosley with, but has anyone watched Mosley attack the body? He has broken down just as many, if not more, fighters with body work than Cotto. I don't think Cotto has ever faced anyone who hits as hard or as often to the body as Mosley. I predict Mosley will stop Cotto inside of eight.
Mosley is also a fine body puncher, but I think Cotto's biggest concern has to be Mosley's straight right. Mosley has fast hands and that's a punch that has landed on Cotto's chin with some regularity.
But not everyone sees the body attack the same way. Read on for another opinion.
COTTO THE BEST
I have watched the fight game longer than I care to admit and I can't remember anyone who worked the body as well as Miguel Cotto. Mosley can talk all he wants about speed, but when he takes a few of Cotto's hooks to the ribs, he's going to be ready to go home to California.
One of the things that makes this fight so intriguing is that the outcome is so unpredictable. Cotto's body punching and constant pressure could decide it. Mosley's hand and foot speed could turn out to be the difference. There are a number of ways to look at it and none are necessarily wrong. Check out my fight breakdown that will be posted on Friday for my pick.
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Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.
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Updated on Tuesday, Nov 6, 2007 3:05 pm, EST
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