Depite a slow start, British boxer Joe Calzaghe never gave up in his match against Bernard Hopkins at Las Vegas’ Thomas and Mack Center on Saturday night (April 19), maintaining his undefeated record with 12-round split decision.
B-Hop seemed to control the fight through the early rounds, though, beginning with a knock down of the Welsh champ midway through the first round, via a sneaky straight right on the button.
Hopkins maintained control early on by smothering Calzaghe whenever he attempted to trade blows or evaded exchanged, he never stopped working, eventually wearing down 43-year-old Hopkins.
There was two incidents during the fight when Calzaghe was warned for delivering low blows, including one in the 10th when referee Joe Cortez gave Hopkins a two-minute break to recover, which the Welshman was not happy about.
Calzaghe felt Hopkins was faking, and motioned to the crowd about his displeasure with Hopkins, resulting in boos. It didn’t faze him though. He continued his late round rally, eventually winning over the judges at the scorecards.
Judge Chuck Giampa scored it 116-111 and Ted Ginza scored it 115-112 for Calzaghe, while Judge Adelaide Byrd scored it 114-113 for Hopkins.
Hopkins recorded his fifth loss, while Calzaghe — who admitted it wasn’t the most exciting win of his career — is still undefeated.
“I knew this wouldn’t look pretty tonight,” Calzaghe said after the bout. “He’s so awkward. He gave me some good shots. It wasn’t my best night, but I won the fight. The world title in a second division and a win in America is just icing on the cake for my career.”
He also complimented Hopkins for his hard work, admitting that Hopkins was one of his toughest opponents he’s ever faced. “He was very defensive. I was only hurt one time, but he never caught me with a clean punch. It was the toughest fight of my career. He’s very clever. I’m very proud.”
Hopkins didn’t agree with the outcome. He felt he controlled the tempo, turned the fight into what he wanted, and thus won.
“I wanted him to run into my shots,” Hopkins said. “I think I made him do that, and I think I made it look pretty easy. I think I controlled the pace, and I controlled the fight. I think it was an old-school execution. He really wasn’t landing his shots. Maybe if he threw five or six, one or two landed if he was lucky.”
Hopkins didn’t reveal his immediate plans for the future, following this loss. He said he would discuss his plans with his family and promoter before he makes a decision on whether to continue fighting or retire.
Calzaghe, however, benefited from winning his first American fight and hasn’t decided who’s next on his list. He does have a lot of options — such as Roy Jones Jr., Kelly Pavlik, Antonio Tarver, or possibly a Hopkins rematch if B-Hop decides to continue.