I may be busy lately, but there's no way I would allow myself not to say something at least on tonight's light heavyweight bout between Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe. Due to the time constraints, I'll make this brief and concise to the point:
As I've said before, this is not a fight that I see Hopkins having a good chance of winning. Though I hold his prowess in esteem, he didn't look too energized in his July 2007 bout with Winky Wright and, well, he's just plain getting older (...finally). I'm sure the move to light heavyweight is part of him not having the type of energy at the end of bouts (or as a whole) than usual, but the overall truth is that he is not as tightly sharp as he once was.
Now enter Calzaghe, someone I have long said is vastly overrated. In my own opinion, he is not very skillful and most of his success has been reliant on both his hand-speed and his opponent's unwillingness/inability to adapt to the situation in front of them. I don't see him as a "master fighter" and I think that he is very much beatable, as his, at times, ungainly style leaves him open and off-balance. Despite my reservations, he does have at least one thing going for him: he has speedy hands and Hopkins has always had some difficulty handling those sort of boxers. Now that Father Time has managed to catch the man that kept outpacing him, it should prove very interesting to see how much that aspect will playout. Equally as interesting is the prospect of Calzaghe dealing with someone that actually has a decent amount of skill and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty. I would also take heed of the fact that the fight is taking place at light heavyweight--Calzaghe's 1st, Hopkins' 3rd...
Prediction: Calzaghe, TKO 8 (more by punching volume than an actual near-knockout) (if totally on his game, Hopkins, Majority Decision) I'm not any fan of his, that's for certain, and the higher weight class may slow him down and affect his pretty good stamina, but I think that he will be the fresher of the two and will insist on using his hand speed to keep Hopkins at bay. Good strategy for the most part, but Hopkins, even with all of the disadvantages, can make many a fighter's best plans work against them, especially one-dimensional types like Calzaghe. Though the mind is willing, is the body so, too?
Outcome: Calzaghe, Split Decision. No TKO, but the fight played out pretty much how I expected it to--Calzaghe outslinging Hopkins while the later tried to match him up. The latter, though, did much better than I thought he would (even scoring a knockdown in the first round), but as eager as he was to go at it, he couldn't output like Calzaghe when it came to slugging it out. However, Calzaghe got through it and two questionable moments of Old Man Hopkins reaching into his bag of tricks and playing the "I got hit too low and need the full breather...even though I really don't" card and won the fight. It wasn't domination, but it was more of a case of one fighter being more physically able than the other, despite the better skill level of the other (though it didn't do Hopkins much good by waiting so often and allowing Calzaghe to get in some of those attacks before countering). Still a good fight, though.
Now that he has Hopkins' light heavyweight titles, amoung an undefeated record and a win over the veteran, there are a slew of opponents that are waiting in the wing, such as Roy Jones, Jr., Kelly Pavlik, Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver, Edison Miranda, and Jermain Taylor. Jones would have the best chance of the bunch, as he has both speed and reasonable power, as well as that elusive style, that could prove to be meddlesome. Personally, though, I think that Mayweather would have have his way with someone like Calzaghe, but the weight difference is too great...and Mayweather rarely wants an even mildly challenging fight, anyway.