Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Joe's Set for His Biggest Bash; Champion's Resolve: Joe Calzaghe Celebrates but He Suffered an Early Knockdown against Hopkins, Who Made the Most of a Low Blow

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Joe's Set for His Biggest Bash; Champion's Resolve: Joe Calzaghe Celebrates but He Suffered an Early Knockdown against Hopkins, Who Made the Most of a Low Blow

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

IT could have been the news that Messrs Schwarzenegger, Stallone andWillis swarmed round to congratulate him, or the vision of an entire Las Vegascasino seemingly coming to a halt to salute him, or that of a mere boxing mediaconference being interrupted with a message of congratulations from DowningStreet.

Yet, somehow, what best offered the sensation that Joe Calzaghe really hadpropelled himself on to a new tier of celebrity was to watch a boxing legendfollowing and fawning around the Welshman at the Thomas and Mack Arena as ifrecognising both the scent of a superstar and one last seriously expensive mealticket.

Roy Jones Jnr wants to be part of Calzaghe's projected farewell bash in frontof 60,000 at the Millennium Stadium in November and he won't be the only one.

How it made Frank Warren chuckle.

"We chased him for six years and he never wanted to know Joe," the promotersaid. "Now they're all chasing but Joe's in the driving seat. He's brokenAmerica. He's the man now." America only saw 'The Man' working at 75 per centof his ability.

They saw him under-perform in a fight which he could easily have lost and, tosome eyes, did. Yet, ultimately, even in an ugly but never less than engrossingscrap, how could they not acclaim a man who picked himself off the canvas aftera minute, endured confusing early lessons and was simply damned if he was goingend up a loser?

In the debate over Calzaghe's legacy, there will be those churls protestingthat a split decision points win over a 43-year-old in no way embellishes itand that the evidence was that a younger version of Bernard Hopkins would havecomfortably prevailed.

Yet boxing is sometimes about stomach as well as skill and, again, this iswhere Calzaghe won. Spirit is what beat Hopkins.

"I took him to school," boasted Hopkins.

The Drogba School for the Performing Arts presumably, such were the theatricswhen the weary American, craving respite from Calzaghe's relentless pursual,spun his time-out break to more than three minutes in the 10th round after alow blow.

Calzaghe believes he may have stopped Hopkins then if referee Joe Cortez hadnot ruined his momentum by letting the American get away with ham acting whichcould only have impressed the booming Governor of California at ringside. …

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