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Roy Jones Jr. could win fight, but not likely

Nov 4, 2008 5:04 PM

Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz |

Having thoroughly kicked myself for underestimating Bernard Hopkins, but at the same time having survived the Breeders’ Cup, it is time to move forward.

For next week’s main event, I wish the clocks had been set back more than one hour. Roy Jones Jr., who beat Hopkins 15 years ago, will attempt to reach back and upset unbeaten Joe Calzaghe, no spring chicken either, at shorter odds than B-Hop’s magnificent upset of Kelly Pavlik.

It’s possible, though I wouldn’t bet on it.

Calzaghe is about a 3-1 favorite. By the time the bell rings for the pay-per-view bout at Madison Square Garden, my guess is he’ll be closer to 5-2. That’s from nostalgic money coming in on the pound-for-pound king of the decade between 1994 or so and 2003.

Jones, whose buyback rate is now about 12-5, lost three straight fights – knockouts by Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson and a decision to Tarver, before coming back with three straight almost meaningless victories.

He is not the brilliant artist with the fastest brushes this side of Sugar Ray Leonard. His fists used to be blurs. Now his talent is.

So he beat the remnants of Felix Trinidad Jr. last Jan. 19. Big deal. That was in between victories by the Prince of Wales against the previously undefeated Mikkel Kessler and the indomitable Bernard Hopkins.

Jones may be 36 and talking up this is his last fight, but Calzaghe seems very much at his peak. I was unimpressed with his victory over Hopkins – even many of the Brits thought B-Hop deserved the verdict. However, that was modified greatly by the Hopkins performance in virtually shutting out Pavlik.

"I don’t want to fight again after this fight," Calzaghe has said, which is usually a warning sign that a boxer has one foot out of the ring already.

But I believe him when he says how important it is to go out undefeated and "it all comes down to who wants it most and I don’t believe anyone wants to win as much as I want to win."

Jones knows what he’s in for against the nonstop light-heavyweight champion. A lot of punches will be coming his way. Okay, most are like slaps, but they come incessantly and in great volume. Jones acknowledges that Calzaghe "throws more punches than anyone I have ever seen."

At 39, Roy will be unable to rest. And his style is more suitable for Calzaghe than was Hopkins’ counter-punching defensive shell. B-Hop dropped Calzaghe for only the second knockdown in the Welshman’s career. The first was the 2003 upending by Byron Mitchell when he got up to score a knockout that same round.

Jones will probably be moving forward – he’s the bigger guy with the greater punch and will try to make this a brawl.

"I’m not really concerned with what Roy Jones brings to the table," said Calzaghe. "If I bring my ‘A’ game, then it’s game over."

I seriously doubt if Jones has an "A" game left. Ten years ago, this would have been a tremendous match. Now it is at the top of a mediocre card. Just more main event fighters being their own co-promoters and obviously keeping all the money for themselves.

This Calzaghe-Jones fight is in an era when a matchup of an ancient Oscar de la Hoya and a former flyweight champion like Manny Pacquiao passes for "Match of the Year."

Yes, Jones has a chance here. Calzaghe is not one of the all-time greats. Before Kessler and Hopkins, his biggest victory was over the limited Jeff Lacy. Most of his long reign at 168 pounds was against the likes of Peter Manfredo Jr., Sakio Bika, Evans Ashira and Mario Veit, and those were the most recent opposition.

But I’m afraid Jones now fits in that hopeless category.

There is another "title" fight on some kind of pay-per-view next Saturday, this one from Bamburg in Bavaria, where the Armenian-born Arthur Abraham defends his slice of the middleweight championship against Raul Marquez, who like Jones and Calzaghe began his career in the previous century.

Marquez is one of the most popular fighters around – and a talented TV commentator who, now 37, could not stay away.

Marquez qualified for a challenge of the unbeateN Abraham – the only 160-pounder left for Kelly Pavlik to confront – by winning an eliminator last June against the previously undefeated Giovanni Lorenzo by three cards of 114-113.

I’m afraid it’s just going to get Marquez a bad beating from the guy who is coming off a four-round destruction of Edison Miranda, which is why Abraham is about a 14-1 favorite.