I have been a fairly big critic of tonight's HBO pay-per-view, but I want to further make two things clear.
1. I am most vocally critical of the horrible promotional job that Calzaghe and Jones did putting together an undercard, as they were obviously underfunded and are offering us complete garbage with a smile on their faces.
2. I do think this is an interesting fight, and I am very aware of why it's happening. For Calzaghe, he's making a great payday and fighting a legend. For Jones, he's got a chance to erase a Hall of Famer's "0" as he nears 40.
Usually I'm not especially keen on simple, "What each man/woman/team has to do to win!" breakdowns, but this is a fight I see clearly going one way, and there are only a few things that can be done to stop that. So instead of prattling on with my usual nonsense, I'll just keep it simple, stupid.
What Joe Calzaghe must do to remain light heavyweight champion of the world
- This is the easy section, frankly. Calzaghe, simply, must be Joe Calzaghe. He has to let his hands go, keep his paws in Jones' face, and not allow Jones time to breathe. He's not going to knock Roy out, because he doesn't hit hard enough.
- Test Jones' conditioning. At 39, Jones is the senior in this fight, and Calzaghe, at a spritely 36, is probably in the better shape overall. Calzaghe gassed Bernard Hopkins out in April, and Hopkins is noted for his insane conditioning.
- Frustrate Roy. Jones is going to be relying on his ability to find looks against Calzaghe and make something happen in the counter game. If he can keep Jones guessing, he's going to get annoy Roy, which has been one of Calzaghe's best weapons over his career.
- Use that clinch. As our own Matt Miller has noted in the past, Calzaghe is a master of the clinch, as both an offensive and defensive weapon. If Jones begins to build any momentum whatsoever, look for Calzaghe to tie him up, essentially hitting the re-set button. He's unmatched in knowing when and where to clinch.
- Jones is going to have to hurt Calzaghe to quiet his volume punching, and the question is whether or not the 39-year old Jones still has that type of pop. He was never a one-punch power guy, but in his glory days, his punches were so sudden, and came at such angles, and in such volume, that he was nearly unstoppable once he got on a roll. We've seen Calzaghe go down before, including against Hopkins. If Roy can land a loaded up counter shot, he can do it.
- Take Calzaghe out of his element. This is hard to do. Hopkins was able to make Calzaghe fight a Hopkins fight briefly, but it did not last. If Roy Jones can slow this thing down and make Calzaghe fight more conventionally than he usually does, he's got a shot.
- Get the crowd involved. Calzaghe is still very much used to having home field for his fights, but Madison Square Garden in the past has been a Jones stronghold. Even though ticket sales are reported as very soft, if Jones can make something happen early, the atmosphere could well get into Calzaghe's head.
- Don't take Calzaghe's mental game for granted. Let me explain what I mean here, as it sort of relates to the last bullet point. Calzaghe is a fighter who says he's nearing retirement; in fact, this may be it. It is obviously very important to Joe Calzaghe that he never loses a fight. If Jones makes Calzaghe think he's in trouble early on, he might get Calzaghe to fight stupid in an effort to preserve his "0."
- It never hurts to pray.