Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Calzaghe
2008-04-19 : Bernard Hopkins 173 lbs lost to Joe Calzaghe 173 lbs by SD in round 12 of 12
- Location: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Joe Cortez
- Judge: Ted Gimza 112-115
- Judge: Chuck Giampa 111-116
- Judge: Adalaide Byrd 114-113
- The Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Title (2nd defense by Hopkins)
- Aired on: HBO, Setanta
- Promoters: Golden Boy Promotions & Frank Warren
- Ring announcer: Michael Buffer
- This was Calzaghe's first fight outside of Europe.
- Calzaghe was a 3-1 favorite.
- The fight was billed as "Battle of the Planet."
- Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino served as the host for the fight, its first big venture into professional boxing.
- Ticket prices were $1500, $1200, $450, $350, and $250.
- There was a crowd of 14,213 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
- The fight aired on HBO World Championship Boxing and attracted 1.8 million viewers.
- According to CompuBox, Calzaghe landed more punches on Hopkins than any of his previous opponents.
- HBO's Harold Lederman scored the bout 116-111 for Calzaghe.
- The Associated Press, Yahoo, and ESPN scored the bout 114-113 for Hopkins.
- Calzaghe: "He was so awkward. It wasn't pretty, but I won the fight"
- Hopkins: "I just really feel like I took the guy to school. I feel like I made him fight my fight, not his."
- Calzaghe: "It was the toughest fight of my career."
- Hopkins: "We have judges, we have officials. In the end, it's the fans who know who won the fight."
Could Calzaghe cross the pond and beat a top opponent? And could he do it in a new weight class? He answered both questions like so: Yes. After 21 super middleweight defenses during an 11-year reign, Calzaghe left behind the 168-pound division and came to America along with several thousand of his Welsh countryman, and delivered a huge victory against Hopkins, who couldn't back up his prefight racist boast that he would never let a white boy beat him.
The white boy did beat him, though, in a close fight that early on looked like it might be a Hopkins wipeout the same way Floyd Mayweather so easily handled Ricky Hatton in December in the last instance of a big-name fighter from the United Kingdom coming to the U.S. to test himself against an elite opponent.
Calzaghe, 36, suffered a first-round knockdown and took several rounds to get into the flow. But by the last third of the fight, he was in control and the 43-year-old Hopkins' punch output had slowed to a trickle while his grabbing, clutching style began to resemble a John Ruiz fight at times. Hopkins was tired and when he got hit with a blow slightly below the belt in the 10th round, he put on a fabulous acting job that helped him buy some rest time. But he failed in an obvious attempt to persuade referee Joe Cortez to take a point from Calzaghe. Cortez, incidentally, did a marvelous job in a fight that everyone knew going in was going to be difficult to officiate.
Hopkins, who reigned as middleweight champ for a record 20 defenses and was making his second light heavyweight defense, is still an excellent fighter but it seems as though he's now out of opponents, and there doesn't seem to be much reason for him to continue other than to cash checks. But Hopkins loves to brag about how much money he has in the bank so what's the point of another fight, especially if it's going to be yet another ugly one?
Hopkins, of course, heavily disputed the outcome and could not bring himself to give Calzaghe any credit for his performance after the fight, which is unfortunate. Even if you think Hopkins won, and plenty of us at ringside thought he eked out a one-point decision, Calzaghe should still be commended for his excellent performance. For anyone who doubted his greatness in the wake of his victory last fall against Mikkel Kessler, this should finally convince you.
Now Calzaghe, a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer (as is Hopkins) will move on to even more big business. The obvious match is against Roy Jones, who was ringside. There is already talk that that they will meet Nov. 15, most likely in the United States, where the money can be maximized on HBO PPV.