Can you guys believe it’s been over a dozen years since Philadelphia’s own, Bernard ‘The Executioner” Hopkins, and Wales’ own, Joe Calzaghe, collided in their prime in Las Vegas? Their memorable bout at the Thomas and Mack Center for the Ring Magazine lineal light heavyweight championship gave us a 36-minute battle that is still debated to this day. Who do you guys think won and why?
Anyhow, lets B-Hop into the Battle MMA time machine to reminisce on that intense chess match that happened in the sport of boxing.
(Cue the angelic harp music)
First things first – that 175lbs title match was free the Saturday night it happened on television on HBO. Yes, that HBO who “did not answer the bell” in 2018 bowing out from televising boxing events. They created the amazing documentary series known as, HBO 24/7, changing the game completely thus forcing FOX and CBS/Showtime to drastically improve countdown pieces. Home Box Office gave us 1,000 some odd fights over the course of 45 years, wow, thank you. Fast-forward to today and in order to catch some live combat you need a subscription to ESPN+ , UFC Fight Pass or DAZN or whatever platform is required in order to showcase matches digitally.
Back to the fight..
More than a decade has passed since that intensely calculated battle at 175 pounds made time along with boxing fans stand still April 19th of 2008. Each corner had a boxing genius on their side; Bernard Hopkins with Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach and Calzhage with his father, Enzo Calzaghe. A fun detail in Bernard’s attire that Vegas night was his sponsorship from Affliction. The same Affliction company which went on to dress many a professional boxer and MMA fighter as well as middle-aged Dads everywhere that wanted to look cool by way of bejeweled, overpriced & scruffy jeans.
Referee Joe Cortez had his hands full for those 12 rounds because that match at times was uglier than Flavor Flave. It really started rough for Wales fighter Calzaghe who ate a mean right hand from Bernard Hopkins right down the pike in round 1 and was put on his tail. Likely a flash knockdown but the shot woke Joe up making him do what he needed to do; be constantly as well as defensively alert. Bernard Hopkins makes matched tough to watch with that clinch-heavy style however, Calzaghe’s feet won him that title ; they were brilliant as he jabbed standing just outside of range, never fully letting Bernard get off. Hopkins tried his grab-hold-punch tactics or, dip his head-launch the overhand shot but Calzaghe was always ready to offset. The Calzaghes had Hopkins’ timed knowing when to dart in and out of the pocket as needed. That nervous energy is draining so props to both men for bringing stellar conditioning into the ring. In the end the Welsh crowd went home happy as one judge saw it 114-113 for Hopkins and the other two 115-112 and 116-111 for the new linear light heavyweight titlist, Joe Calzaghe.
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Battle MMA nostalgia boys and girls. Check the fight out on Youtube or DAZN and lets compare scorecards!