sports bettors interested in boxing, and a sense of the dramatic, will get one, and perhaps some of the other, when undefeated Joe Calzaghe, considered by some to the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, meets up with Roy Jones Jr., at one time the consensus choice for that distinction, in a 12-round bout that will take place on Saturday, November 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight will be contested in the light heavyweight division.
BetUS boxing betting odds:
November 8 -- New York City
JOE CALZAGHE -300
ROY JONES JR. +220
OVER 9.5 ROUNDS -350
UNDER 9.5 ROUNDS +250
Calzaghe by KO, TKO or Disqualification +330
Calzaghe by Decision or Technical Decision -140
Jones by KO TKO or Disqualification +800
Jones by Decision or Technical Decision +400
Draw or Technical Draw +2200
For betting purposes, let's size up the contestants:
CALZAGHE (45-0, 32 KO's), the -300 favorite in the BetUS boxing betting odds, has not been beaten as a pro, and it has been over eleven years since he has won a world title, which is remarkable. A Welshman of Italian heritage, he won three ABA titles in the U.K. as an amateur, and turned pro in October of 1993. Only one of his first eleven opponents got past the second round. he won a world title for the first time when he scored a decision over Chris Eubank for the WBO super middleweight crown in October of '97. Hasn't always fought the strongest in championship opposition, but he's been impressive in quite a few bouts along the way, beating people like Omar Sheika, Robin Reid, Charles Brewer, Byron Mitchell (where he was knocked down before scoring a TKO-2) and Mario Veit. Calzaghe captured a lot of attention in March 2006 when he completely dominated Jeff Lacy en rote to a lopsided decision. Another landmark fight was an all-action decision win over Mikkel Kessler (November 2007), which Calzaghe also won by a decisive margin. The Welshman last fought in April, as he got off the deck in the first round to register a 12-round split decision over Bernard Hopkins. Calzaghe has won 22 world title fights.
JONES (52-4, 38 KO's), the +220 underdog at BetUS, has a story that is well-known. After a fabled amateur career which culminated in him being named Outstanding Boxer in the 1988 Olympics, even though he did not win a gold medal, he has won world titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. Jones beat Bernard Hopkins for the IBF 160-pound crown in May 1993, humiliated James Toney for the IBF super middleweight title a year and a half later, decisioned Hall of Famer Mike McCallum for the WBC 175-pound belt in November 1996, and after a number of defenses, jumped to heavyweight and bested John Ruiz, with room to spare, for the WBA crown in March 2003. Jones, who lost a questionable disqualification to Montell Griffin earlier in his career (and avenged it with a one-round KO), lost three straight bouts after he turned 35; two of those were to Antonio Tarver, one of which was a second-round KO, and was also knocked out by Glen Johnson. He's had three wins in a row - over Prince Badi Ajamu, previously unbeaten Anthony Hanshaw, and his last bout, an easy decision over Felix Trinidad. Jones has defeated 18 world champions.
Since I have been involved in one way or another with boxing (over 25 years), Roy Jones Jr. may be the most talented fighter I have seen. And it was never a matter of who he was beating but instead HOW he was beating them. At one point you just couldn't touch the guy.
Well, you can touch him now.
Jones has been on his "comeback," and has won three fights in a row. But frankly, one can not take a whole lot from his win over Felix Trinidad, who is a shot fighter. Jones is kind of shot too; the image that sticks in my mind was from his third fight with Antonio Tarver, when Tarver was exhausted and looked ready for the taking, and Jones just didn't have enough - not nearly enough - to come and get him.
I will give him enough credit for bringing some speed into this fight, and that speed will certainly give Calzaghe some problems, at least at the start. Calzaghe does not have the greatest quickness in the world, and so he will sometimes be slow to counter-punch. And Calzaghe is hardly the most stylish guy in the world. Even at age 39, Jones will have the edge on pure talent. But the quality Calzaghe has, and what will make things difficult for Jones, is that he is there to fight for three minutes of every round. He is so busy that it will be almost impossible to keep up with the punch output.
Jones never threw an awful lot of punches; what he prided himself on for years was his ability to avoid being hit and then throw enough clean blows, with enough blinding speed, to overwhelm the opponent. And it happened to a lot of good fighters, the aforementioned Hopkins, Toney and McCallum among them. But Calzaghe comes with that attack which is not based on power, but on scoring points. And he will score enough of them. His stamina is also an advantage here. I don't know that he will do enough to break Jones down and take him out of the fight late, but he will not find himself being penalized for inactivity.
I would love to see Roy Jones stay as the Roy Jones I used to know. But age takes its toll, and unlike Hopkins, who has survived, and thrived, as a ring general at age 43, Jones' success never really came from that. Calzaghe will set a pace, and he will be able to sustain it longer than Jones can. I can't see w knockout, but at -140 in the BetUS Boxing sports betting odds, Calzaghe is not a bad value to take a decision win back to Wales.
JAY'S PLAY: CALZAGHE BY DECISION (-140) ***
(Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)
(Charles Jay of www.ebookies.com is a former manager, matchmaker and color commentator in professional boxing. He currently pulls no punches in the BetUS Locker Room)